CALEDONIA – ‘Dead, dying cats and the SPCA’ was the top news story August 10, 2017 on CHCH TV Evening news.
Oh yeah and BTW people from Six Nations were blocking Argyle Street in Caledonia … again.
According to the CHCH news report the protestors blocked the highway by the former Douglas Estates where the Kanonhstaten Standoff took place in 2006. In 2017, Six Nations people said they demanded the return of the Burtch land south of Brantford. Demands include assigning Burtch land to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council of Chief (HCCC), removing Six Nations Band Council from land discussions, and that Canada and Ontario return to the bargaining table.
Six Nations protestors are blocking a road in Caledonia on the northeast side of Six Nations, about Burtch land that is 18 miles away on the southwest side of Six Nations.
The protest in 2006 was organized by Janie Jamieson and Dawn Smith, when Six Nations’ women disputed the encroachment against Six Nations’ territory by developers of the Douglas Estates subdivision. The people were attacked by the OPP, and the community united to defend them. The result was an occupation that included a near race riot on Bread and Cheese Day, and finally consultation between the HCCC and representatives from Canada and Ontario.
Here’s what happened in the last 10 years. Money was transferred to the HCCC through local government fiscal agents — money funnels. The money was used to create the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI) as the new fiscal agent. People were hired. Deals were made with Samsung and Enbridge. Money was spent. HCCC people were paid. To who and how much? That’s still not clear to this day.
People asked questions. Fingers were pointed. Someone was de-horned. Or not. Someone was banished. Or not. Someone is backed by big money interests. Or not. It’s all mysterious.
Burtch was once a corrections facility. Jokingly called Six Nations’ local vacation resort for local bad guys, the minimum-security corrections facility closed and sat idle for years. Until HDI began talking about recovering the land for Six Nations’ use, not much thought was given to Burtch.
In 2010 HDI created a job for someone to figure out what to do with Burtch. I applied. Turn it into a recovery and revitalization centre. Fill part of it with solar panels to serve Six Nations, and sell the rest of the electricity to Ontario Hydro. Grow grain and corn crops to produce ethanol. Put people to work. I never heard back.
This time around a local woman took initiative to grow commercial tobacco. Band Council made threats. She said no. Others joined in and said no as well. The resulting stalemate was covered in local media and the Hamilton Spectator. And then all the finger pointing began.
It’s Band Council’s fault. It’s the fault of Detlor and his followers at HDI. It’s HCCC’s fault. Let’s throw in local businesses. The Mohawk Workers. They must be involved somehow. Yeah, and the Christians. And the Chippewas. And let’s not forget Joseph Brant and Handsome Lake.
The outside governments know all this.
In 2010 Canadian government project offers were providing a gathering of ‘aboriginal’ service agencies with new policy guidelines. The new policy guidelines, according to the government agents, were based on consultations with ‘aboriginal’ leaders. The guidelines described how the money was to be used in a new era of ‘aboriginal’ care.
The Indigenous representatives called for clarification. Around the table. “Well what if we did it this?” Nope. “Well how about this then.” Nope. “Our people like it like this.” Sorry. But nope.
Finally, the government project officer interrupted the discussion. “Look folks,” she said. “We’re not funding medicine wheels anymore.” This policy adjustment happened in the last 10 years as a means for improving professionalism in the social and health service sector. People wanted better care. Governments at all levels responded by requiring accreditation for individuals working in social and health services. That’s why graduates in social service work, social work, and nursing have increased in the last ten years.
After the meeting I greeted the government policy officer. “And where are you from?” she asked. “Why, I’m from Six Nations south of Toronto,” I replied. “Yes I know Six Nations,” she said smiling,” that’s the divided community.” I smiled.
Social media is filled with people questioning all the diverse interests. And that’s the basis of democratic freedom. The people have historically had the right to ask questions about actions that affect them. And they also had the right to be answered. Here’s a sample of what people are saying on Social Media:
“…yeah f@#$ Detlor and HDI that land was supposed to go to the CONFEDERACY not the HCCC.”
“I haven’t heard any of the women who are at the blockade mention him at all, just the land.”
“Will the conspiracy theories continue that if you are critical of HCCC or HDI decision making then you are working with SNEC and/or conspiring to “take down confederacy”?
“Council should run all things such as roads, health, education, housing. HCCC could run land matters. Any negotiations. And both could tackle the drug and residency laws.”
“I think I’d rather become a permanent resident of the United States than see the HCCC take over with self declared leadership. I don’t care what they say is their intent, nothing good happens when self declared leaders take power.”
“In the old days Clanmothers made sure everyone was looked after. These days every major office on the Rez has a woman boss. Including Band Council. Schools. Education. Health and social services. Employment services. Everything. They’re the new Clanmothers.”
“The HCCC is not the old Iroquois Confederacy. The HCCC began in the 1950s.”
“He [referring to Allan McNaughton] can’t close a meeting because [he] isn’t even a chief because he has no clan.”
“Band Council was created by Canada in 1924 and has incorporated the reserve.”
“The Haldimand Pledge was created by the Mohawks. They have the say.”
And on and on.
In 2024 it’ll be 100 years of finger-pointing and division. In the next seven years we should have our own truth-and-reconciliation commission. Won’t that be fun!
Thohahoken Michael Doxtater is an educator from Six Nations