SIX NATIONS — Last week, local reporting claimed the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council formally dissolved the Haudenosaunee Development Institute.
The report which appeared in a local Six Nations newspaper — the Turtle Island News — claims the HCCC fired HDI Executive Director Hazel Hill and was working to dissolve HDI’s Board of Directors and review the contracts of two other employees – lawyer Aaron Detlor and Brian Doolittle.
In an exclusive interview with the Two Row Times, HDI’s Director Hazel Hill says she has not received an official statement from council releasing her of her duties, only gossip and a link to an article the Turtle Island News shared on Facebook.
“They put it up on Facebook and they were told specifically not to,” says Hill.
“They didn’t even give me the respect of telling me I’m fired, and that’s what hurts.”
Local reporting claims HDI has been imploding for some time.
However, Hill says she believes the disruption began after a wage dispute arose between herself and TIN publisher Lynda Powless, who was acting as the HDI’s media liaison.
Hill detailed that dispute in her May 2018 HDI report to the Chiefs and Clanmothers, which has since been removed from the HCCC’s website.
In her report, Hill alleges Powless was in a conflict of interest and politically interfering by pressuring ex-husband and Mohawk Chief Allan MacNaughton to end work with an Ottawa lobbying firm — The Daisy Group.
Hill says that interference was “discrediting and dishonouring the Royane and Yakoyane” who were working to build alliances in Ottawa between the federal government and the HCCC via the Daisy Group.
Hill wrote in her report part of the problems with Powless stemmed from a wage dispute. Hill would not disclose how much Powless was paid but said that of the $200,000 yearly media budget, Powless took a large share. The latest audit also shows around $18,000 spent on HDI advertising — much of it spent in the Turtle Island News. Hill also says local reporting by Powless that HDI is dissolved is untrue — and claims the narrative is being pushed in order to sully her reputation in the community.
“My question is, when they say the board has been dissolved and they want to review contracts. At a meeting, July 31st, I explained that you can’t take a personal contracts into a public forum, you just can’t do it. It is a breach of confidentiality.”
Two Row Times spoke with Onondaga Chief Arnold Jacobs and he confirmed that HDI is not dissolved — but is being restructured and, according to Jacobs, will likely have a new name.
“I made a mistake. I hired someone with a clear conflict of interest and out for personal gain. And I admit it,” said Hill. “But now the wrath is upon me because I dared to say it in public.”
Regarding that public report — Hill says that she stands by every word. That 16 page document was laden with a long and complicated conspiracy alleging several community factions were working together with foreign powers — including NASA via the US Government and the Pope — to undermine Haudenosaunee Sovereignty.
In June, one of those named in the report, lawyer Paul Williams sent a letter to HCCC Secretary Leroy “Jock” Hill demanding an apology and saying the report “attacks my actions, my intentions and my reputation.”
In his letter, obtained by TRT, Williams says members of HDI routinely slandered him during Council meetings and that no one stood up to stop it.
Williams wrote: “I require an apology from the Council and from the individual members of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute. I require more than that: you need to act to ensure that neither I nor anyone else is attacked and injured in this way, ever again. This malicious, untruthful, ugly behaviour also injures the council and its reputation. It has gone on long enough.”
Williams letter insists the comments in the Hill’s report were damaging to his reputation. “The allegation that I am willing to “compromise and jeopardize our Confederacy” is deeply insulting and untrue.”
Williams says that the assertion that he’s been removed from working with the HCCC is also untrue.
“I have never been removed from the Council, or from providing legal advice. I remain a member of the Haudenosaunee Documentation Committee; the Haudenosaunee Standing Committee on Burials and Burial Regulation; and the External Relations committee. The decision to remove me from the negotiations over the reclaimed lands in Caledonia was made only by Allan MacNaughton, and he has since expressed regret over doing so.”
Williams ended his letter by asserting that if he is not given the apologies he has requested — and if no HCCC action was taken to ensure attacks on his character were halted that he would be forced to sue.
According to local reporting one Mohawk chief verbally apologized at the August HCCC meeting to those in attendance — however that has not independently been confirmed by TRT.
Hill expressed her regrets about the current direction of HDI and reflected on what she would have done differently in hindsight.
“I think we should have started working with the Clanmothers a little sooner on rebuilding their Nation relationship with their clan families,” she reflects.
“We talked about it lots of times and it took some time to do it, but we finally did it through Gloria Thomas, with that “Strengthening the House” program. That program brought Chiefs and Clanmothers together to talk about roles and responsibilities.”
Hill says if another HDIlike entity emerges they need to find better ways of communication with the people they are to represent to keep them abreast and involved.
“Every one of us has to take some responsibility here,” she says.
“We can’t rely on the media and social media to be our voice. It has to be human-human. So the Clanmothers and the Chiefs have to learn how to talk to their clan families again. The people have to feel free and comfortable to say, ‘hey, what’s happening in council today’ and that has not been happening for a very, very, very long time now.”
“Just because I am no longer representing the Confederacy, I am not going to stop fighting for our people,” says Hill. “I wish the confederacy well. I will be supporting in ways that I do from my own understanding.”
Ed note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction to Hill’s statement about Powless’ income. A previous version said in error that Hill estimated Powless earned just under $200,000.