Brantford’s voters, who may be browsing the City’s Ward maps, are served a map cleansed of Six Nations Indian Reserve No. 40 and Glebe Farm No. 40B. These Native lands – parts which are also known as the Eagles Nest Tract – have a Federally designated total area larger than Brantford’s downtown core and have recently been stricken from the 2014 City Ward 5 map.
The recent erasure of any reference to either Six Nations, or Her Majesty The Queen, misleads the public that the City of Brantford owns this Native territory. Lonny Bomberry, the Six Nations director of Lands and Resources, stated that Band Council had asked City officials to correct a 2010 Ward 5 map inaccuracy, which had noted Native lands only as “Crown Land”, and was surprised that instead of cooperating, they have now removed any and all reference to the lands in question.
A 1983 agreement between Six Nations representatives and the City, signed by former Brantford Mayor David Neumann and Chief Wellington Staats, allowed the City certain legal rights over Mohawk Street, which passes over the territory. These rights included access restrictions and subjection to City Bylaws. However, Bomberry is unaware of any renewal of the agreement, a condition which ought to have been executed within 20 years of its signing. Bomberry suggests that, without the renewal, the agreement may be null and void.
Mohawk Street, on Six Nations, passes between Her Majesty’s Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, also known as the Mohawk Chapel, and the associated Mohawk Institute, a former Indian Residential School (the Mush Hole), officially rebranded as the Woodland Cultural Centre.
A 1920’s Department of Indian Affairs plan indicates that the street, west of the Mohawk Chapel (situated in an area once known as the Mohawk Village), was a roadway linking Brantford to the Mohawk Village, and bounded on either side by “Indian Farms”. Present records show that the street is not eased through Six Nations, and continues to run over Native lands. Part of the Reserve reaches into the Grand River, according to a 1966 survey.
The survey reveals that Mohawk Street, “as far back as 1831”, was a trail also known as Locks Road, and serviced another New England Company institution, the Oneida Mission School, now inconspicuously buried under a City subdivision development. Some online Brantford City Council committee references to the Oneida Mission School and subdivision development also appear to have been removed from the City website.
The same 1966 survey states that, “There is no document or record showing that this land was surrendered by the Six Nations Indians for a right-of-way”. Also mentioned is the lack of planning documents relating to the widening of the ‘road’, in the 1940’s, and any references to compensation for territory expropriated. In 1937, during a Brant County Council meeting, the County made clear its intent to seize portions of the road.
Even the actual boundaries of Mohawk Street itself appear to be affected by the City’s voracious appetite for real estate. A 1953 Indian Affairs survey depicts Mohawk Road (renamed to Mohawk Street by the City in 1958) inside the Reserve, from the Mohawk Chapel until almost Fifth Avenue, but a 1984 survey shows the south western Reserve boundary along Mohawk Street tapering from the Mohawk Chapel, to a point across from the south corner of Birkett Lane.
When asked, Brantford City Councillor Marguerite Ceschi-Smith wasn’t sure about the jurisdiction of her Ward, versus the borders of Six Nations Indian Reserve No. 40, even though the reserve is nestled squarely in the middle. Ceschi-Smith referred the Two Row Times to the City Solicitor for comment. Police jurisdiction over Mohawk Street on Six Nations, also seems to be unknown. Brant County Councillor Brian Coleman, agreed that the Reserve is situated on the northern boundary of his County Ward, and referred us to Brantford City Councillors for clarification on local jurisdiction.
Without signage indicating the border of Six Nations territory, as one travels westwards over Mohawk Street, passing Morrision Road, a traveller could mistakenly assume they are still within City boundaries and jurisdiction. However, the Indian Act clearly delineates the rights of the “band” and “Indian(s)”, with respect to the adverse possession and occupation of Reserve Lands, by “persons other than Indians”, under their heading: Trespass on Reserves.
Another section of the Act speaks to the responsibility of the “band” for ensuring that roads on Reserves are maintained. When asked about the possibility of a Six Nations owned and operated electronic toll system for this stretch of Mohawk Street, Bomberry pondered if such a venture would divert City traffic, instead of earning revenue. As of last year, the Mohawk Institute suffered from a chronically leaking roof, which, according to sources, threatened their book and abstract collection. The school is located just north of a “Manual Labor Farm”, as designated in archival plans relating to New England Company deeds.