Posthumously by Alma Greene
SIX NATIONS ‑ It has been said by revisionists with obvious vested interest, that Six Nations or any of it’s member tribes were never accepted as an independent sovereign nation by the Crown of Britain and that the Two Row Wampum was only symbolic but not a binding agreement between Nations.
By way of education, we would like to put these revisionist thoughts to rest, or at the very least, under question.
The following information was found on type written pages stuffed in an old book written by the late Alma Greene this reporter purchased at a garage sale. We thought it brilliant and are pleased to publish this posthumously with Nia;wen to Alma.
Where it all began:
1613 has been accepted by many as the year of the first use of the Two Row Wampum as a peace and mutual respect treaty between the Iroquois Confederacy and the newly arriving Dutch to the shores of Turtle Island (North America).
A memorial between the British Imperial Government of 1912, it states “Six Nations were recognized as independent Nations and Allies of the Dutch and afterwards by the English of whom the Dutch surrendered their possessions in 1664. These confederate Nations have ever since resided upon the Grand River where they have been domiciled and established, maintaining their cohesion and ancient constitution and method of government.” (British Memorial VIPI Ottawa, Dominion of Canada)
In 1664, on the 24th of Sept, the first treaty of alliance was entered into between the English and the Five Nations ratified. That provided:
“That if any English, Dutch or Indian (under the protection of the English) do any wrong, injury or violence to any of the said princes of their subjects in any sort whatever, if they complain to the governor of New York or to the officers in Chief at Albany, if the person so offending shall be discovered, that person shall receive condign (adequate) punishment and all due satisfaction shall be given; and like shall be done for all other English plantations.”
“That if any Indian belonging to any of the Sachems afore said do any wrong, injury or damage to the English, Dutch or Indians under the protection of the English, if complaint is made to the Sachems and the person be discovered who did the injury, then the person so offended shall be punished and all just satisfaction shall be given to any of His Majesty’s subjects in any colony or plantation in America.”
Under this Treaty both parties were treated on terms of equality and perfect independence, Political Status was on each side conceded.
1717, June 13 – At a conference in Albany, the terms of the Alliance were clearly and definitely stated by Governor Hunter.
“We are met here in this place by order of the King of Great Britain, my Master. In the same public and solemn manner, I, here in His command renew the ancient covenant with the Five Nations, promising on His pact that all the known conditions of the said covenant shall be duly and punctually observed, so long as you shall honestly and faithfully perform what has been in all times hitherto been promised and performed. And to prevent all mistakes on this head, I must remind you of what has ever been meant and understood by you as well as us, by the Covenant Chain, that is that on the one hand the subjects of His Majesty on this continent should not only refrain from all acts of hostility or anything tending that way towards you but readily assist you when attacked by others, or enable you by such methods as were in power to repel force by force or defend yourselves, and on the other hand, you were on your part to live in the strictest of friendship with all his Majesty’s subjects and in most effective assistance in your power.” (N.Y. doc. Vol. 5 P 484)
In 1733 Governor Montgomerie (sic) assured the Six Nations;
“You need fear no enemies while you are true to your allegiance with him, the King.” (N.Y Doc. 5. P 963)
1739 – The lords of trade addressed the lords of the privy council:
“We shall observe to your lordship that these Six Nations are the most powerful and war-like of the ancient nations of that part of America. That they have always been faithful allies to the British settlements in those parts. We may add that these Six Nations are looked upon to be a great support of the British Empire in those parts.”
(N.Y. Doc. 6 P 156)
1744 Quote from Governor Clinton:
“I have had an interview with the Five Nations of the Indians and have renewed a treaty of peace and alliance with them. (N.Y. Doc. 6 P 256)
1748 Governor of Canada wrote Governor Clinton:
“That neither the Treaty of Utrecht, nor any other similar one can make the Iroquois subjects of Great Britain. They claim to be free, as they have declared an infinite number of times and as their conduct and yours towards them proves, inasmuch as for 150 years they have concluded peace and made war independent of you, and often in opposition to you, without your ever having attempted to force them to obey you. The Plenipotentiaries of Utrecht could not then legitimately subject them to you. The English are too well read in the law of Nations not to appreciate this truth.” (N.Y. Doc. 6 P. 496)
1749 Sir William Johnson wrote Governor Clinton:
“Your Excellency is plenipotentiary (in full power to take independent action) with the Indians who though called subjects, are a foreign people, and are to be treated with as immediately from the King, of his Majesty’s Governor.” (N.Y. doc. 6 P. 540)
April 19, 1757 proceedings of Council
“Brethren – Let all nations of Indians know that the Great King of England, my master, is their faithful friend, that He desires all nations of Indians may unite together, be as one body and one blood. He offers them his alliance and protection, which all princes and peoples over the great lake are proud and glad of.” (N.Y. Doc 7 P. 246)
Sept. 22, 1767 Sir William Johnson writes the Earl of Shelburne:
They, the Six Nations call themselves a free people who had an independent land, which were their ancient possessions, that the French by ceding Canada, according to the words of the treaty granted what was not in their power to give; their outposts and distant possessions being only held by them, not by conquest but by favor; that if they admitted our rights to the post we conquered, the country was still theirs, and in fact it was most certain the French never spoke to them in any other style, as sensible of the consequences it might with regard to their interests.” (N.Y. Doc 7 P. 958)
In 1768 a line of demarcation was established between lands of the Six Nations and the land of the King and their full independence acknowledged by the Treaty of Fort Stanwix, at this time the Six Nations was regarded as a distinct political community, capable of making treaties or compacts to which the law of England did not extend.
July 3, 1794 – Governor Simcoe writing Dundas, Secretary of State, on July 3, 1794.
“It rests for me to observe Sir, that I have always considered an Article of the Treaty of Utrecht to be the only authentic document that defines the state of the Indians, as far as it respects the European nations, whose line of demarcation as limited by themselves for their own mutual guidance, gives to the Indians and their respective traders, the utmost freedom therein and considers the nation as entirely independent. (Can. Arch. Co. Off Rec. Series Q Vol. 280 – 1 p.m. 201-207)
“The manners of the Indians required that the tract assigned to them should be in common, inalienable and kept out of the view of our municipal laws, at least so long as they affected to consider themselves independent allies, for this purpose a council, a treaty, a belt, was adequate. It was a compact of one nation with another, to be governed by general rules and not by the provisions of the common law of England. To form their tract of al white subjects. Holding to what was then done to have been adequate to the wishes of the Indians and the extent of the Government, new circumstances must have arisen to justify any call by the Indians on government for assurances or change … The Government cannot wish to constrain the or to introduce our laws among them so long s they continue a people apart.”
May 11th, 1914 Hon. Frank Oliver, speaking in the house of commons, said:
“These are the bands of the Six Nations Indians located on the Grand River in Ontario, who, I maintain are in a different legal position from any Indian bands who are native to this country. These Indian bands on the Grand River had their original home in the United States. At the close of the war of the revolution they emigrated to Canada and were given lands under a special treaty, not as subjects of Great Britain but as allies of Great Britain and I maintain that the holding of these Six Nations Indians on the Grand River is of such kind that this parliament has no right to interfere with it. I admit that parliament has the power to interfere with the rights of Indians, under treaty with this government, but I say that his parliament has no right to interfere with a treaty made between the Imperial Government and the Six Nations.”
July 5th 1775, Lord Dartmouth wrote Col. Guy Johnson, Superintendent of the Six Nations after William died.
“The present state of affairs in his Majesty’s colonies in which an unnatural rebellion has broken out, that threatens to overturn the constitution… as that His Majesty may rely on their assistance in ant case in which it may be necessary to require it.” (N.Y. Doc. 8 P.592.
After the passing of the British North America Act, a wampum belt was presented to the Six Nations by Col. Clause on behalf of the Canadian government. This was a token of regard for the Mohawks and others of the Six Nations who had ever proven themselves “faithful allies of the British” and conferred upon them the full and perpetual right to live as a “nation within a nation” conforming always to their ancient rules and customs, which the Government would never force them to change.
Hope this helps to clarify a few things. Again, many thanks to Alma Greene for formulating this argument for Six Nations of the Grand River Country and sovereignty.