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Public accountability central to HDI–HCCC fiasco

By Thohahoken The question of public officials spending Ohswekenron:nen public funds focuses on the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) as the most recent example of a publicly funded agency thinking they are not required to be accountable to the Six Nations public. Band Council has long been accused of complete hostility to public scrutiny since 1924.

By Thohahoken

The question of public officials spending Ohswekenron:nen public funds focuses on the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) as the most recent example of a publicly funded agency thinking they are not required to be accountable to the Six Nations public.

Band Council has long been accused of complete hostility to public scrutiny since 1924. The alcohol regulation referendum is the most recent example of a public agency spending Six Nations’ public funds on a project they vowed in 1988 they would not spend money on again.

And the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, created in the 1950s from remnants of the ancient League Council that was overthrown in 1924, has had its own share of controversy. The Chiefs acted against the wishes of the People and Clanmothers in making a deal for 12 cords or wood in the Red Hill Valley case in 2004.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council of Chiefs (HCCC) is predominantly lead by Cayuga and Onondaga chiefs. Their delegates received $1.5-million from Canada to pursue work following the Kanohnstaton 2006 conflict in Caledonia. This funding became seed money for the HDI.

There is a long list of issues that face HDI. Significantly, public interest groups throughout the territory raised concerns about HDI:

  • As an arm of the HCCC, the HDI is now incorporated under the laws of Canada—like the Band Council;
  • HDI deals with partners like Samsung and Enbridge— the same Samsung that uses coltan microchips mined at gun-point in the Congo, and the same Enbridge our own People have been fighting for building pipelines through our territories;
  • HDI spends Six Nations’ public money but is not accountable for its dealings and refuses to answer questions from the public about where the money went.

The public interest groups continue to press for answers to their questions – but get none.

What is being revealed in this HDI scandal?

Once again there is a resurgence in public outrage over how public officials spend Ohswekenron:nen money. The list includes:

  • Ohswekenron:nen outrage that public officials act as though they are entitled to spend our money—without being accountable to the public;
  • Ohswekenron:nen concerns about the legal status of individuals who claim legitimacy in the HCCC—mostly pointing at Mohawks who have only the Ayonwatha family condoled to sit in the council;
  • Ohswekenron:nen understanding that $700-million is taken from the People in direct and indirect taxation every year and that no Settler-money comes here–every dime spent here is our money and those spending our money are accountable to the People.

Democracy is funny that way. Lessons to be learned are simple.

If public officials spend public money they are immediately accountable to that public— in this case, the Ohswekenron:nen.

Everyone is accountable to the all the People—elected Band Council members whether or not you vote, Haudenosaunee chiefs whether or not you Indian dance, and all agents appointed by both bodies to do their work.

No agency using our money is exempt from the Peoples’ eyes—and that just about includes every agency, institution, organization, or business that exists under authority and protection of the People.

They are in business because of the People—not the other way around.

They are in business because of the People—not the other way around.
(Thohahoken is a social scientist living at Six Nations.)

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