SIX NATIONS — A controversial move by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) at the July Confederacy meeting on Saturday to re-instate a former Cayuga clan mother has a lot of people in the community rattled and wondering what is going on.
In wanting to know more on this story, Two Row Times reached out to Cayuga Wolf Chief Sam General to hear his perspective of what happened.
Upon going to speak with General, he was found sitting under a tree beside a house of old plywood working a piece of soapstone that was in the shape of a sleeping wolf. With large slabs of soapstone placed near his feet, perched on a make-shift table, he asked what was wanted as he dipped the wolf carving in and out of a pail of water.
This was the start of an interview that truly proved there are two sides to every story.
“So, it’s true that they’re trying to get rid of me because I’m a thorn in their side,” said General. “I’m not a ‘yes’ man, I’m the kind of guy that grew up in the old ways and I gotta question things. I’m not a guy that’s gonna sit there because they throw a paper and want me to sign it like I gotta sign it right away. Which is what you see within council,” he said.
General then explained that he wasn’t even in attendance at the council meeting due to a death on Thursday of last week.
Normally a death within the community usually calls for confederacy council, socials, and even ceremonies to be postponed out of respect for the mourning family.
“When I found out, I told the other Cayuga Chief that I was gonna leave because that’s disrespectful,” he said.
General said he was friends with the person who passed. “[He and I] used to play ball against each other, I wanted to show respect for him.”
But without General present, and against showing respect for a mourning family, HCCC proceeded and first on the agenda was a Cayuga Wolf matter.
Normally issues within a specific clan are that clan family’s business. It is unclear as to why this particular matter was brought to the entire council to have a voice on.
The council heard that titleholder beads for the Cayuga Wolf clan mother had been taken back to the clan family and away from former clan mother Gloria “Em” Skye nearly 10 years ago.
General said that Skye is originally a Wyandot and she was ‘borrowed’ to hold the title of Cayuga Wolf Clanmother for a time.
The council heard a request from Skye to have her title reinstated.
Mohawk Turtle Chief Allan McNaughton said believing the beads should return to previous Clanmother Gloria “Em” Skye.
This was agreed to by a chief on the Cayuga bench and accepted by the Onondaga bench speaker Cleveland Thomas.
HCCC Secretary Jock Hill then stood to explain saying, “It has been decided by the Chiefs that Gloria is still the Clan mother, and those horns will be with her. It was the council that placed them there,” and then Jock suggested she could change title then, effectively removing (dehorning) Sam General as a chief.
Hill said Skye could also wait until a later date.
General said the council making a top-down decision like that was against traditional protocol.
“It was wrong for them to do that, because she (Skye) was released a long time ago,” he said. “Why all of a sudden after all of these years they want her back in there? We already have a person that’s going to take that spot, because we’re trying to do it the right way.”
But following protocol or the ‘right way’ has seemed to escape various aspects of the Council lately, and General disagrees with what transpired in his absence on Saturday.
“The clan that I represent doesn’t agree with what happened,” he said. “I told some of my brothers and they didn’t agree, they said that it was wrong for them to do all of that.”
When asked by the Two Row Times if he will be dehorned he said, “It ain’t gonna happen, I didn’t do nothing wrong. My family says I did nothing wrong.”
General is, by virtue of being a traditional chief title holder, one of the fifty shareholders in all business conducted by HDI on behalf of the HCCC and the people of the Confederacy. He said many of the questions he has raised about HDI, lawyer Aaron Detlor and the business they are conducting on behalf of the people of Six Nations of the Grand River receive the equivalent of crickets.
“I’ve asked different questions about this and that, like why do they [the Haudenosaunee Development Institute or HDI] want to incorporate us? There was no answer for that. I asked Detlor that one time the same thing and there was no answer,” he said.
Some in the community voiced concerns about the action taken by the Chiefs at Council to re-instate former clan mother Skye and suggest she remove General from a position of authority in the council.
A number of additional clan families from Six Nations and Oneida have stated publicly that they do not support or endorse HDI doing business on their behalf, confirming the HCCC and HDI do not have the required full consensus of the Confederacy.
Minutes from May’s council meeting were distributed indicating that both Sam General and Shirley Hill, a Mohawk clan mother, said HDI lawyer Aaron Detlor was not to proceed with business on behalf of the Confederacy.
However, HDI requested to the Confederacy that two letters be drafted by HCCC Secretary Hohahes Jock Hill for Monday, July 4. One stating that the HCCC “still owns a 10% interest in Grand Valley 2 Limited Partnership” — and the second “verifying that HDI is still functioning and has the full support of this council.”
HCCC did not achieve consensus to write those letters and heard verbal opposition from clan mothers to writing the letters on the grounds that HDI no longer has full support of the Confederacy or the people of Six Nations of the Grand River.