A message for today, Part Two

By the late Mrs. Alma Greene

SIX NATIONS – Alma Greene, Mohawk historian, elder, author and seer wrote a letter in the 1960s or ‘70s calling for the abolition of the Indian Act.

This letter was a submission she made to the Indian Affairs office regarding the historically based proof of Six Nations national sovereignty.

There is no point in history or any legal act of legislation that ended this sovereignty and Six Nations has never given it up. Therefor, according to International Treaty law, Six Nations remains a sovereign Nation.

In 1739, the lords of trade addressed the lords of the Privy Council;

“We shall observe to your lordships that these Six Nations are the most powerful and war-like of the ancient of that part of America. That they have always been faithful allies to the British settlement 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 256)

In 1748 Sir William Johnson wrote Governor Clinton;

“Your Excellency is plenipotentiary (meaning having all diplomatic power) 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 P540)

Proceedings of Council, April 19, 1757.

Brethren — let all nations of Indians know that the great King of England, my master, is their 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)

Sir William Johnson writes the Earl of Shelborne, Sept. 22, 1767.

“They, the Six Nations called 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 favour; that if they admitted our rights to the posts we conquered, the country was still theirs and in fact it is most certain the French never spoke to them in any other style, as sensible of the consequences it might with regard to their interest.” (N.Y. Doc 7 P 958)

In 1768 a line of demarcation was established between the lands of the Six Nations and the lands 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.

Governor Simcoe writing Dundas, Secretary of the 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 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 nations as entirely independent.”

(Can. Arch. Co. Off. Rec. Series Q Vol. 280 — 1 P.M. 201 — 207)

In a further report (Can, Arc. Q 183 P 87) is stated;

“The manners of the Indians required that the tract assigned 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 answer the fair intent all as done that ought to have been done to have been adequate to the wish of the Indians and the extent of the Government, new circumstances must have arisen to justify and call by the Indians on the government for further assurances or change … The Government cannot wish to constrain them or to introduce our laws among them so long as they continue a people apart.”

It is a fact that should not be forgotten by anyone considering the historical position of the Six Nations that neither the Province of New York in its colonial days, nor the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain, ever passed either an Act of Assembly or Parliament by which it was sought to regulate, govern or interfere with the affairs of the Six Nations, and that the first Act of Parliament which ever did so, was that passed by Canada in 1859, reserved by the then Governor-General for Her Majesty’s special consideration, and which received the Royal assent only on the assurance of the Governor-General in his dispatch transmitting a draft of same to England made “no changes whatever to the rights of the Indian tribes.” The Royal instructions of Indian Affairs of July 10, 1764, imposed no restraints on the Indians, but only on the whites and provided the methods by which business with the Indian tribes was to be regulated.

Strictly speaking, the original status, rights, and privileges of the Six Nations.

Hon. Frank Oliver, speaking in the House of Commons, May 11, 1914 (Hansard) 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 other 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 special treaty, not as subjects of Great Britain but as allies for Great Britain and I maintain that the holding of these Six Nations Indians on the Grand River is of such a 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 made with this government, but I say that this Parliament has no right to interfere with a treaty made between the Imperial Government and the Six Nations Indians.”

When rebellion broke out in America, the King called on his allies, the Six Nations, for assistance, and promised, if given, he would “protect them and preserve them in all their rights.” Lord Dartmouth on July 5, 1775, wrote Colonel Guy Johnson, who had succeeded as Superintendent of the Six Nations after the death of the great Sir William Johnson:

“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 any case in which it may be necessary to require it.” (N.Y. Doc 8 P 592)

By Tradition, as of the Kings of centuries past, the Six Nations Confederacy never casts a vote and never lends its support to any political candidate and with the original Haldimand Deed in their possession, the Six Nations feel that voting for the sale of any part of their Grand River Country would violate their treaty rights.

After the passing of the North America Act, a Wampum Belt was presented to 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.”

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