SIX NATIONS — The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council (HCCC) meeting came to an abrupt halt Saturday afternoon when Mohawk chief Allan McNaughton stormed out of the longhouse in frustration that the Haudenosaunee Trade Delegation update on the proposed tobacco law would not be heard.
“I apologize profusely to everyone that I am about to affect…I’m going home. I’m done.” McNaughton declared.
McNaughton, who was the lone speaker for the Elder Brother’s side of the Council Fire at Saturday’s Council meeting, walked straight across the floor and out the front doors of Onondaga longhouse while council was still in session.
A number of Mohawk women followed McNaughton out the doors in order to retrieve him and compel him to come back and deal with the rest of the day’s matters. However, when they got outside McNaughton was gone.
McNaughton’s escape move was taken by some as a disregard of Confederacy Council protocol and left the nearly 100 people gathered, including those remaining Mohawks he represents, bewildered.
It also left the Confederacy Council, for the second time in a row, unable to proceed with the rest of the day’s agenda due to sudden shut downs, both initiated by McNaughton.
Letter From Province of Ontario Regarding Burtch Land Transfer Left in Limbo for Three Months
HCCC Secretary Leroy “Jock” Hill presented a letter at the beginning of Saturday’s meeting from the Province of Ontario regarding the transfer of Burtch lands.
Hill said that letter was originally on the Council agenda for the month of May but was unable to be addressed at that time due to the sudden closure of the last council.
The HCCC subsequently did not meet in June after notice went out from HDI Director Hazel Hill via the Haudenosaunee Confederacy’s Facebook page that the meeting was cancelled.
“We have just been informed by Clanmother Mina Keye there has been a death in the Cayuga Snipe clan family and therefore there will be no council this Saturday. I will advise further when I have details on the dates for funeral and condolence.” No further details on the funeral or condolence were posted to the page.
These matters left the letter from Ontario until July 4th to be presented to the Confederacy. In it the province of Ontario indicated they’d asked Six Nations Elected Council to set up a corporation to receive the Burtch lands on behalf of the people of Six Nations.
The letter also requested a response by June 16th from the HCCC. However because the letter was not shared until July that date was missed.
McNaughton Abruptly Shut Down the Last Two Confederacy Council Meetings in a Row
McNaughton’s frustrations and exit this time was prompted after the Younger Brothers side of the Council Fire reminded the Mohawk chief he ended discussions regarding the proposed “Haudenosaunee Tobacco Law at Oswege” by “pulling the matter up off the floor” at the last meeting in May and immediately closed the Council meeting – leaving no resolution to the rest of the agenda.
According to Confederacy protocols, matters which appear to have no evident resolution at the end of a Council meeting are normally “placed under the pillow” to be temporarily put on hold for discussion at the next meeting.
However at the last HCCC meeting held in May, McNaughton shocked many by choosing instead to pull the draft tobacco law completely from discussion at Council after serious concerns about the draft law, the HDI and HCCC lawyer Aaron Detlor were raised by three Clan families.
McNaughton “pulling the matter up off the floor” at the last meeting meant he ended the first turn of discussions on the draft tobacco law – and put the onus back on the trade delegation to re-introduce the draft law for a second turn of discussions at Council.
According to Confederacy protocol, matters can go through three turns of consideration and if consensus can not be reached in those turns, it is abandoned.
Current Draft of Proposed Tobacco Law Replicates Western Governance Model
The proposed tobacco regulation was supposed to be the Six Nation’s solution to Bill C-10, which implemented changes to the Criminal Code of Canada – making any tobacco product that does not comply with Canadian federal regulations – contraband.
These changes to the Criminal Code, which received royal assent earlier this year, leaves anyone currently holding more than 10,000 unstamped cigarettes susceptible to fines; potentially facing minimum mandatory jail time of at least six months.
Very valid concerns were raised about the last draft tobacco law the trade delegation presented to the HCCC. These included restricting the tobacco trade at Six Nations to those who can prove Haudenosaunee maternal lineage, charging tobacco trades people licensing fees and establishing an enforcement crew who will shut down those who refuse to comply with the tobacco law.
However one of the most controversial and confusing items in the draft law is asking the HCCC to delegate authority to an independent board and approve a “banishment” clause; which could permanently expel anyone from Six Nations of the Grand River territory not complying with the tobacco law.
This is an ironic answer for the trade delegation to propose to Bill C-10. Earlier in 2015 McNaughton, along with HDI lawyer Aaron Detlor and members of the trade delegation travelled to Ottawa to protest the criminalization of the Haudenosaunee Tobacco Trade.
Yet now, just a few months later, the trade delegation is asking the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs and Clanmothers, under the authority of the Great Law, to approve an internal criminalization of that same trade for those who engage in non-compliance with the proposed “Haudenosaunee Tobacco Law at Oswege”.
Speaker for the Onondaga Beaver Clan raised the point at May’s Confederacy Council meeting that imposing such a ‘top-down’ law upon the Haudenosaunee people was not possible under the Great Law for any Chief or Clanmother to do to another Clan family. He also said this law was merely replicating that of a western governance model and is contradictory to the responsibility Chiefs and Clanmothers have to the people.
Questions On Samsung: Who Was Okay With Waiving Sovereign Immunity in the First Place
Last month members from the Cayuga Wolf Clan and Cayuga Snipe Clan also raised serious concerns about HDI and Aaron Detlor – reading a declaration calling for all work involving the Haudenosaunee Development Institute be halted, their staff along with lawyer Aaron Detlor immediately be dismissed, and an internal investigation be launched into the organization.
That declaration was given after controversial documents leaked to clan families revealed the details of two Engagement Agreements with Samsung, signed on behalf of the HCCC by HDI Director Hazel Hill and HCCC Secretary Jock Hill in the fall of 2014 – under the legal advisement of Detlor.
The two agreements include several non-assertion clauses – waiving the sovereign immunity of Haudenosaunee citizens and legally biding the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs to abandon the application of Haudenosaunee law regarding Samsung’s Wind and Solar farms on Grand River territory.
The price of sovereign immunity and Haudenosaunee law in the context of the Samsung Engagement Agreements sold for a total of $8.6 million dollars over 20 years. According to those Engagement Agreements the money was to start trickling in quarterly to a corporate number for the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council provided by Grand River Employment and Training Inc.
That roughly translates to just $300 per Six Nations band member – even less if you subtract the 10% administrative fee the Engagement Agreements state GRETI is charging the HCCC for their part in the deals.
That amount again decreases when you consider Samsung provided the funds to HDI for “Haudenosaunee citizens” which could mean every Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and even Tuscaroras anywhere from Wahta all the way to Oklahoma. Scholars estimate the Haudenosaunee population of North America to be approximately 150,000 – which, in the context of these two Engagement Agreements, brings the going rate of Haudenosaunee sovereign immunity down to just fifty bucks a head.
Private meetings held across the territory Sunday to address concerns of Clan families
Several of the clan families at Six Nations spoke out loud and clear that they were not informed of the terminology or terms within those engagement agreements before they were signed on their behalf by Hazel Hill and Jock Hill – and that had they been made aware sovereign immunity was a stipulation of those agreements – that they would not have agreed to the matter.
This brought many questions into the minds of the people: namely who is signing what on behalf of Haudenosaunee citizens across the board and why were Haudenosaunee citizens informed on the details of these agreements via leaked documents and not via the HDI?
Further questions about the money HDI says it is receiving for the HCCC have arisen – including what is being done with that money.
Thus far the HDI has provided vague audits to the community via the Haudenosaunee Confederacy website. Reports for 2014 declared HDI cost the Confederacy $280,000 in travel costs, $355,000 in undisclosed “professional fees” and over one million dollars in “Salaries, benefits and contract fees”.
Members from several clan families expressed concerns at a meeting held this Sunday on Six Nations that these vague expenses being paid for with Confederacy Council dollars were outrageous in light of the poverty many of the Chiefs and Clanmothers endure on a daily basis – totally unaware of the actual accounting HDI is reportedly doing in the name of the Confederacy.
What Happens Next: Questions Remain Unanswered
Now, with McNaughton storming off and leaving the rest of Saturday’s Council agenda in limbo – a million matters remain up in the air – including opportunity for HDI Staff and Detlor to address the Confederacy regarding that declaration in May calling for their resignations.
One thing is certain: in what many saw as a meeting where they could finally get some answers – now even more than ever – questions remain.