By Jim Windle & Nahnda Garlow
OHSWEKEN – Last Tuesday HDI lawyer Aaron Detlor was unceremoniously removed from his office at the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) and ordered off the reserve by members of the Men’s Fire and ‘such others’. But on Wednesday morning he returned to work at his office at the G.R.E.A.T. building.
He slipped into the building before a gathering of between 80 – 100 people, at its max, mainly men, arrived to prevent his re-entry. They assembled in the parking lot across the road in a tense but peaceful stand-off which lasted most of the day.
The group of the Men’s Fire and ‘such others’ represented Haudenosaunee citizens and Six Nations community members from several different backgrounds standing together and looking for answers to longstanding questions about Detlor’s work within the community over the past 10 years.
Across the road, standing in front of the entranceway of the building a smaller gathering apparently in defence of Detlor, but there was no sign of intimidation or aggression on either side of the street. There were a few heated discussions, but in the end both remained respectful of one another even if not in agreement.
Many of those standing in defence of the HDI lawyer said they were standing in defence of jobs they now have or are about to have through the HDI.
Reports at the site suggested an emergency meeting of the chiefs and clan mothers had been called in the GREAT building for 2 p.m. that day.
Turtle Island News Publisher Lynda Powless was allowed entrance to the G.R.E.A.T. building along with a few others members of the general public. Two Row Times Publisher Jon Garlow sought entry as well as an equal member of the media, but was denied and escorted out of the building.
“I am a peaceful person,” said Garlow. “I think the negativity expressed towards me was because of erroneous and libellous statements made that I and the Two Row Times were somehow behind what happened Tuesday.”
Video footage of the incident on Tuesday show HDI Director Hazel Hill accusing TRT Publisher Jonathan Garlow of organizing and staging Detlor’s removal. She later was published in the Turtle Island News accusing the Two Row Times of collusion.
According to Wikipedia, “Collusion an agreement between two or more parties, sometimes illegal and therefore secretive, to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading, or defrauding others of their legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically by defrauding or gaining an unfair market advantage.”
“It is an agreement among firms or individuals to divide a market, set prices, limit production or limit opportunities. It can involve “wage fixing, kickbacks, or misrepresenting the independence of the relationship between the colluding parties”. In legal terms, all acts effected by collusion are considered void.”
Garlow said the accusations are not true. “We were aware of a growing concern with Detlor but didn’t know that he would be removed on Tuesday,” said Garlow. “Plus, I can’t orchestrate anything. I can’t even orchestrate my kids getting to school on time.”
Co-owner of the Two Row Times, David LaForce, also denied the accusation. “We just went there acting on a tip, just as any other newspaper would do. We did not stage anything.”
At around 7:15 p.m. a crowd of about 20 – 25 people exited the G.R.E.A.T. building, stopping at the edge of the sidewalk to the building and stood in a row facing the Social Services Building.
Copies of a written statement were distributed to the crowd. An older Haudenosaunee woman stood and read the statement aloud, saying they wished Detlor to remain in his office and asking
the Men’s Fire and such others to leaven and come to the next Confederacy Council meeting.
Members of The Men’s Fire and such others asked how many people present in the group at GREAT were clan mothers. Four women raised their hands.
The Men’s Fire and such others asked if all chiefs and clan mothers were invited to the meeting. A voice from the crowd said an email was sent out ‘at 11 or 12’. No one present could confirm if the email was sent at 11am or 11pm.
Leanna Bomberry, a Haudenosaunee woman who was standing with The Men’s Fire and such others responded with “Then this is illegal. You can take that back I don’t want it. It’s not ours.”
The remaining members of the crowd who had copies of the written statement agreed and handed their papers back to HDI Media Relations person Lynda Powless.
No one raised their voices. No one spoke harsh to one another. The mood was sombre and it was clear people on all sides were grieved that there is unrest in the community surrounding this issue.
Six Nations Police made arrangements to escort Aaron Detlor away from the building.
Bomberry again raised valid questions, asking, “I wanna know how they write a letter on behalf of all the chiefs and clan mothers. Are they speaking for them? For all the chiefs and clan mothers under the Confederacy? They can’t write letters with just a few of them. They’re not even supposed to run council with just a few of them.”
Bomberry said, “I wanna know what they did with that money from the time they started till now. And I want them to account for the documentation that goes with the audit. That’s what I want as a community member and I want to know who I request that to. I’ll put it in writing if that’s what they need.”
The crowd continued to discuss their frustrations about the situation at hand. Six Nations Police travelled down Sunrise Court in their escort, followed by Detlor driving in his vehicle.
Detlor smiled and waved at the Men’s Fire and such others as he drove away.