I must say, I was surprised last December to read that the Haudenosaunee Chiefs Council (HCCC) appeared to be unaware of the actions of Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN) over the past decade to claim most of southern Ontario as its traditional territory.
Surprised, because as early as 2011 and as late at 2018 I have been making Six Nations leaders and people aware of the claims by MNCFN, that they are the most recent and therefore most relevant First Nation titleholders to traditional lands in southern Ontario.
According to the numerous New Credit people I have spoken with, they are the traditional land titleholders to southern Ontario because they beat Six Nations people back to the Niagara Falls area during a war.
Former MNCFN band council chief Carol King (originally a Six Nations person), told me in 2011 that the MNCFN are the traditional titleholders to these lands after the Ojibway killed so many Six Nation people during the so-called Beaver Wars, that the “rivers ran red” with the blood of Six Nation’s people.
In 2011, I made Onondaga chief Arnie General and other Haudenosaunee people aware of the this claim by the MNCFN, including the current secretary of the Haudenosaunee Chiefs Council Leroy Hill who seemed more intent on chastising me for my criticism of HCCC for their lack of transparency, accountability, and democratic-mandate from the clans to speak on their behalf, than realizing the obvious ramifications for Six Nations from this claim by MNCFN.
Arnie and any other Six Nations people I have ever spoken to about this claim scoffed at and laughed outright at the claim that the Ojibway of winning a war against the Six Nations and taking our lands.
But since then I haven’t noticed any action on the part of the HCCC to take issue with these claims MNCFN up until December 2018, which I find curious.
On two occasions, one in 2011 and another in 2018, I also asked Six Nations band council Lands Department Director, Lonny Bomberry whether there is any validity to the claim that MNCFN won these lands from in a war with Six Nations.
In 2011 Mr. Bomberry also scoffed at and laughed at that assertion by the Mississaugas and then added a few choice words, to the effect that there was no validity to these claims of traditional lands titleholder status by MNCFN.
When I asked him again in 2018 about these ongoing claims by MNCFN, he reiterated his earlier statements and added that Six Nations band council is not taking issue with these claims by MNCFN because Six Nations has “too many other land-rights issues to deal with”.
I also found Bomberry’s statement curious.
My interest in this issue was primarily because of the various projects I was managing that required conducting proper consultation with relevant First Nations and accurate “land-acknowledgements” at various meetings and events in southern Ontario.
As a Haudenosaunee person I was interested also in obtaining clarification on whether Six Nations did indeed lose all our traditional territory in southern Ontario after losing a war to the Mississaugas Ojibway.
The last I heard we had controlled an area from the Ohio Valley to the Atlantic Ocean and Sault St. Marie down to south of Pennsylvania approximately.
Also, that there was a historical agreement between the Mississaugas and the Six Nations Confederacy to share the resources of the land, including southern Ontario, in the “Dish with One Spoon” Treaty.
Which begs the question, on what basis did MNCFN claim ownership of the Toronto Islands and subsequently make a settlement with the Crown that saw each of their band members receive 20K and $1,500 yearly since the settlement?
It is my understanding that the Seneca lived in that area and I haven’t heard any Senecas say they lost their lands (including the Toronto Islands) to the Ojibway in a war. Indeed, mounds exist in the area (High Park) that are not of Ojibway making, but rather of Neutral who were later absorbed by the Six Nation.
And how was MNCFN able to parlay a claim of traditional titleholder status of the Toronto Islands into a multi-million dollar settlement for its people when the land was part of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty between the Ojibway and the Six Nations?
It has long been a tactic of the colonizers and the Crown to make deals with one group of Indigenous people even though they had no credible title to the land they were surrendering.
There are many benefits to be derived from being recognized as the “traditional titleholders”
Most importantly, that recognition, in effect, will write history that will be in place forever, especially if it is not challenged by SN. It will be in text books and form the basis when settler community try to determine who to consult with or make future treaties and land settlements with.
If Six Nations truly did lose all our traditional territory in southern Ontario in a war with the Ojibway then that’s fine, but that’s not the impression I have received from those Six Nations people I have spoken to.
I just want confirmation on whether this assertion by the MNCFN is accurate, or whether it is disputed by the Six Nations, which seems to be the case.
If the MNCFN claim to proper titleholder status is in dispute, then why isn’t Six Nations voicing this dissent? To not do so only reinforces the position by MNCFN of being the true traditional land titleholders because we lost a war to them.
(The Metis are also trying to elbow its way in being consulted even though, to my knowledge, there was never any Metis settlements of note in Ontario.)
Now the MNCFN flags are flying at Oakville, Mississauga, and Toronto, but not the Haudenosaunee flag, and it is the MNCFN that are the ones being sought for consultation, which has become an industry unto itself, not the Haudenosaunee.
If this MNCFN assertion is not being disputed by Six Nations, what effect will this have on future land rights settlements?
I have found only one literary source in support of the claim by MNCFN to having beaten Six Nations in a war from the Mississauga Historical Society, but that assertion by the Society didn’t offer any source for its claim.
I respectfully disagree with the position of the Six Nations Lands Department, that we have more important land rights issues to address rather than the claims to traditional lands titleholder status of southern Ontario by MNCFN.
Over a period of time, if left unchallenged by Six Nations, the claims by MNCFN of being the most recent, and therefore most relevant, First Nations people to deal with in proper protocol, consultation and accommodation, will lead to municipalities in the area to only consult with, and make deals with the MNCFN people thereby strengthening their position to further land settlements, possibly at the expense of Six Nations people.
This would have a negative impact on possible future deals between Six Nations and businesses like Samsung or Hydro, or with municipalities who need to consult with and accommodate the proper Indigenous people who are the true traditional titleholders to the lands.
If the Ojibway did indeed beat us in a war (in contravention of the Dish with One Spoon Treaty) make the rivers run red with our blood, and drive us east across the Niagara Falls area into NY State, why would we then offer to protect them from the murderous settlers who drove them out of the Mississauga area, by offering them refuge alongside the Six Nations reservation?
History is being written through the actions of municipalities to recognize the MNCFN as the true traditional lands titleholders and through the inaction by Six Nations Band Council, Haudenosaunee Chiefs Council, and Six Nations people in general to allow this to continue unchallenged.
I think it is past time for Six Nations people to press those who purport to speak on our behalf to either accept or dispute the claims by MNCFN, and then act accordingly.
Alex Jamieson Jr.