SIX NATIONS — On Wednesday a collective of hereditary leaders and their supporters, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC), held a press conference to address a letter recently sent to municipalities by Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Chief Mark Hill.
Hill’s letter said municipalities along the Haldimand Tract were being misinformed by provincial bureaucrats directing development talks along the Tract to include HCCC, the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation.
Elected Chief Mark Hill said that was false information and directed municipalities to only speak to the elected council. This clarification, according to the elected council, comes from what the province itself requires for accommodation and consultation on the Haldimand Tract as well as a Supreme Court ruling that says the elected council are the only entity legally permitted to do collective business for Six Nations membership.
HCCC says the letter is spreading false information and attempting to erase them from their roles as leaders of the people.
“Elected council does not in any way, shape or form represent the Haudenosaunee people on any issue,” said Roger Silversmith, one of the HCCC’s hereditary leaders for the Cayuga nation.
In a statement, the HCCC say the elected leadership are spreading false information, are not Haudenosaunee people and have been using Haudenosaunee symbols and language to project authority.
This is the latest back and forth in an ongoing battle over who represents the Haudenosaunee people who are Six Nations band members — the elected leadership or the hereditary leadership.
“You sent a statement out saying you’re the government of the Haudenosaunee, you have no right to claim that,” said the HCCC Secretary Leroy ‘Jock’ Hill. “That kind of come out of left field that they issue a statement that they’re my government. They’ve never declared that they are the government of the Haudenosaunee and I hope they never do again because everyone knows its false.”
The elected leadership asserting their authority was just one burn the HCCC addressed. The next had to do with who is on the receiving end of financial compensation when it comes to development along the Haldimand Tract.
“They’re out there trying to get people to do business on their side,” said Silversmith, and said that developers have been increasingly working with the HCCC’s development group HDI since the HCCC issued a moratorium and public relations campaign to raise awareness of the governance divide between hereditary leadership and the elected system.
To date there has been no public disclosure of who those talks are with, how much those developers have contributed to Six Nations, under what terms and what environmental considerations are being discussed in those agreements.
That is something the elected leadership continues to point to, Elected Chief Mark Hill writing in his letter that the elected council has a unique and transparent system of accountability to the Six Nations membership with open books and regularly scheduled open meetings where the HCCC has struggled to inform Six Nations membership what is being done on their end on behalf of the people and by whom.
Secretary Hill says the focus of concern for HCCC is environmental and population focused to protect the integrity of the land. “We’re not against development, we’ve said that all along. But it needs to be done responsibly,” said Hill.
He could not offer specifics on what was being done by HDI to ensure environmental concerns are being addressed and overpopulation issues are being taken into consideration when they do concede to a development deal.
Hill was also open with reporters about not having details to share about who HDI has agreements with and what the terms of those agreements include.