SIX NATIONS – Last week Six Nations lost another warrior in the passing of Arnold Douglas, commonly known around the rez as Taff. He died of leukemia at 5:15 pm, Nov. 7th at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Hamilton surrounded by family.
Douglas, with his signature black cowboy hat a big smile, was a familiar figure at many protests and actions in support of his people and his beliefs and was never afraid to get his hands a little dirty in the process.
His Mohawk Road home was overwhelmed with visitors and friends following Arnold’s passing, spilling out into the garage and a banquet tent erected outside, as his younger brother, Bobby Douglas, gave a stirring eulogy recounting his fascinating life.
The elements of his funeral were laid out well in advance of his passing by Douglas himself and co-ordinated by the family down to the smallest detail.
“One day a few weeks ago, he handed me a $50 bill and said that when he goes, he wanted to have all his friends at the restaurant have a coffee on him,” said Bobby who owns and operated the Cedar Tree Restaurant on Seneca Road – one of Arnold’s favourite places to be. “He really helped us out here at the Cedar Tree. Just a few weeks ago he chipped in and helped us buy our new Karaoke machine.”
Arnold was also an important force behind the Indian Defense League of America and the Mohawk Nation organization. Along with his brother Bob, he kept the Six Nations of the Grand River chapter alive, hosting many events.
Sister Eva remembers her brother as a kind and giving man who enjoyed trying to make a difference for his people.
Bobby feels that his big brother was sometimes misunderstood for what he tried to do for the people.
“He was a person for our rights,” says Bobby. “I think some people took him the wrong way and thought he was doing what he did for greed or money somehow. But that was never the case.”
Arnold recently spent some time in jail over his stance against the telecommunications tower erected at Third Line Road and Mohawk Road, which was put up on land he believed the Elected Band Council had no right to claim administrative ownership over.
“That land was to have been returned to the family that loaned it to the Confederacy for School #1.” says Bob. “It should have been returned after the school was closed, but it never was.”
He resisted the tower with his usual quiet, yet firm resolve and was charged with mischief for trying to block the construction.
It wasn’t the first time he had a clash with the Elected Council. He and his son Albert were charged after an altercation broke out on his Mohawk Road land when Six Nations Police came to evict him. It was later discovered in court that Band Council staff falsified papers and the land they were trying to foreclose upon was at the wrong address.
Arnold thought the $18,000 granted to Six Nations residents by Indian Affairs for new homes should not be treated like a loan with interest attached to it.
“He paid the principle of that grant but refused to pay the interest to council. It was never over money,” recalls Bob.
“He really was a man of principle,” adds Eva.
Douglas will be missed by all, but especially by family and those he stood with on the front lines with.