SIX NATIONS — On Christmas Day, 1794, Superintendent General and Inspector General of Indian Affairs directed that there be specific regulations to be followed for the legal alienation of Indian Lands stating, “No lands are therefore to be purchased of the Indians, but by the Superintendent General and Inspector General of Indian Affairs, or in
SIX NATIONS — On Christmas Day, 1794, Superintendent General and Inspector General of Indian Affairs directed that there be specific regulations to be followed for the legal alienation of Indian Lands stating, “No lands are therefore to be purchased of the Indians, but by the Superintendent General and Inspector General of Indian Affairs, or in his absence, the Deputy Superintendent General or a person especially commissioned for that purpose by the Commander in Chief.”
It was also ordered that “All purchases are to be made in Public Council with great solemnity and ceremony, according to the ancient usage and customs of the Indians. The principal Chiefs and leading Men of the Nations to whom the land belongs, being first assembled.”
This practice was accepted and reaffirmed in 1812 when again it was declared that the legal alienation of land, which was referred to as the unanimous practice of the Iroquois Confederacy was to be adhered to “with great solemnity and ceremony.”
To make the transaction legal, 50 chiefs’ signatures of the Five Nations were to be affixed to the Deed of Conveyance along with a survey map outlining the area to be conveyed.
In 1829, Canada arbitrarily decided that Six Nations should not have the right to dispose of or sell their lands at all, but the Governor General recommend they lease instead, which was Joseph Brant’s original idea back in 1780’s and 90’s to create perpetual income for his people while retaining the land itself.
Nine days later, the Chiefs Council of Six Nations, expressed interest to a proposal to surrender land to be set aside from the rest of the Haldimand tract to become a centre where squatters residing on Indian land, could live and own their own land. That 807-acre site was surveyed and in 1830, became Brant’s Ford (Brantford).
A report from Deputy Warden Marcus Blair informed the government that Six Nations has decided it will not surrender any more of its land outside of a lease. Therefore making the outright purchase of Indian land virtually impossible stating that the better to lease the land from Six Nations than not having access to any of it.
When Six Nations began pressuring newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Bond-Head, who arrived from England knowing nothing of agreements and treaties made it these strange people, was put under pressure by Six Nations to fulfill promises made by Sir Isaac Brock, and General Darling and others to remove all squatters from their land.
The Chiefs were advised by Sir John Colborne in 1838, that they should surrender more land around what is now Lorne Bridge to accommodate those settlers and squatters he promised Six Nations he was going to aggressively remove from Six Nations land, which did not happen despite an act of parliament passed to remove squatters from Six Nations Haldimand Tract land, not yet sold.
On one hand, John W. Gwynne was instructed in 1840 to endorse this order, but at the same time, Government Trustee of Indian lands William Hepburn was actively promoting settlement of non-surrendered land with a future promise that they would get first right of refusal “when” these lands become available. Other speculator/politicians were doing the same for great personal gain.
Seeing he may be missing out on the gravel train, Samuel Jarvis, now Superintendent of Indian Affairs, recommends to the Chiefs that they consolidate in one or two places to more safely evict the squatters or offer leases and to make the governance of Six Nations easier.
That leads us up to the so-called, 1841 surrender of all of the Haldimand Tract in exchange for a few acres near the Tuscarora Village along the Grand River, across the river from the 1784 Mohawk Village established by Joseph Brant’s Mohawks and others about 2,500 in total following the American Revolution.
Part 2 Next Week – Why the 1841 surrender is bogus