SIX NATIONS – The Men’s Fire of Six Nations say they will do whatever it takes to stop the transfer of the Burtch lands into the hands of a corporation created by the Elected Council of Six Nations, as the Province wants.
Earlier, Six Nations Elected Council notified the public that they have formed a corporation to receive the lands, but according to the Men’s Fire and other traditional people, the Elected Council has no right to sell or receive land without the consent of the people.
The issue isn’t that they do not want the Burtch land back in Six Nations hands, as it is how and who.
Those opposed to the Band Council’s involvement say that by them receiving this land, as a creature of the government itself, it would once again go right back into the provinces’ hands through the Ontario Land Registry system.
The Men’s Fire held a media conference last Tuesday where they explained why it is important that this transaction does not take place in this way.
Local farmer Ed Green has already planed a crop of tobacco after receiving the go ahead from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, but he did not get the OK from the Elected Council after Ontario declared they do not want Green to plant there. After finding that the corps were already in, councillor Carl Hill declared at a meeting with the Men’s Fire that once that crop has been harvested, Green is to remove himself from the property, according to Johnson.
The Men’s Fire as well as others not affiliated with them have difficulty understanding why, when the former growers on the land, the Six Nations Agricultural Society, received a five-year-lease from both the Confederacy and Band Council, there seems to be a problem with Greens’ five-year-lease granted buy the Confederacy. Band Council did not sign such an agreement with Green.
The Farmers Association’s lease ran out but they did not formally apply to renew that lease, according to the Fire, despite a call for tender, which was put out by the Confederacy for the next five-year farming agreement. Ed and Kris Green did and they got the lease for the next five years from the HCCC.
“It is our understanding that the province has no jurisdiction over who farms it. What right does the Ontario government or the Band Council to do this. They have no authority to tell us who can and who cannot plant crops on Six Nations land,” said Bud Johnson of the Men’s Fire. “It was Allen McNaughton who negotiated to get that land back.”
Although the Men’s Fire say that in the negotiation process it was agreed that Band Council would have no say in the matter, there are no documents which have been made available that substantiates this statement.
The Fire presented another document, however, dated Dec. 30, 2011, that states that the “Wisk niyonhwentsya’ke of 50 clans of the Wisk niyonhwentsya’ke Nation of the Six Nations Territory is responsible for property herein described as: Burtch Facility Lands, Grand River.”
It goes on the say, “It is understood that the Holder of the Certificate of Responsibility will be responsible to the land described herein which is subject to the laws and obligations provided by Sonkwiontishonh and in particular the obligation to hold the land as Yetni’nihsenta.”
It is signed by Hazel Hill, per Registrar, Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, and carries the seal of the Haudenosaunee Grand River, under registry number 11-003.
But it seems, this document has been completely ignored by both the province and the Elected Council. Traditional people say the Confederacy is, in fact, the people of Six Nations as represented by the Clan Mothers and Chiefs. Meanwhile, statistics show that only a small percentage of Six Nations residents actually participate in the voting process, and therefor, they do not represent the majority of the people of Six Nations.
“By placing that land with the Elected Council, the Province is just taking it out of one hand and taking it right back through the Ontario Land Registry, a Crown Corporation.” says Bill Monture. “How stupid do they think we are?”
The Fire supports the belief that the Elected Council, and even the Chiefs endorsement itself, is no good without the input of the people through the clans and Clan Mothers.
At Kononhstaton, the Douglas Creek stand-off, David Peterson, who negotiated the removal of the blockades across Argyle Street, was asked how the Burtch land was to be transferred and was told, “any way you want it to be,” according to Johnson.
According to the Fire, there are other ways to transfer the land, which does not involve a corporation, which they would rather be perused.
“The way I look at it is, with the Ontario government dealing with the Elected Council, it is my understanding that they have no authority to do so,” insists Bill Monture. “When these treaties were negotiated back in the day, there was no such thing as an Elected Council. They should be talking to the original government of our people, which is the Confederacy Council. It should be government-to-government, Nation-to-Nation. That’s how our treaties were put in place.”
Without being specific, the Men’s Fire boldly state that this Burtch transfer will not be allowed to happen through a Crown corporation.