Benjamin Doolittle UE
The Six Nations Council (SNC) issued a press release claiming that they are the sole real party in interest to land in Haldimand Tract.
While the Six Nations Council may have some rights to the land, the Grand Back Project, a group of Mohawks who live in the area says that those rights are not valid because there is no official documentation proving that the SNC has any rights to the land.
The Mohawk posterity has been fighting for the recognition of their rights to the land for years, and they are not going to give up without a fight.
Recently Brantford proposed a lands transfer tax share concept that would see a portion of lands transfer tax diverted to the Six Nations Council, I don’t find any coincidence that the Six Nations soon after issued its letter to all the Municipalities along the Haldimand Tract to secure its payday.
This is an about-face from the council decision in 2014, that saw the council abandon its plan to write to the Finance Minister to exempt Indians from taxation, one councilor shared his concern “This could set a dangerous precedent” and be used as a tax-avoidance tool, Coun. Richard Carpenter argued. Another councilor seemed confused about what was being proposed, “I don’t know why anyone on council would try to get an exemption from city taxation for a property owner based on race,” McCreary said in council. I talked to Dave Wroble after I found this archived article, one point Dave made was that the Industrial Park is the City’s bread and butter, stressing the risks of who may be entrusted to manage the tax-exempt lands, “I do recall, and they were a couple of elements that I didn’t agree with and the way staff presented it. And if memory serves me correctly, the biggest issue I had was a whole term in trust. In trust was pretty vague and in trust to whom.”
In 2017 I wrote an “Open Letter to The Corporation of the City of Brantford and Council“ this letter details the events that unfolded at 91 Spring Street, Brantford, where the city levied taxes on the property and sold the lien to the bank, the bank got an eviction order and the sheriff and Brantford police attempted to evict, after over five attempts they took the property, one reply I received from Councilor Richard Carpenter read in total “That’s funny stuff”, and in a curt reply from Councilor Greg Martin which only added to the list of questions, “Mr. Doolittle, the City of Brantford levies property taxes on property owners regardless of nationality, if you purchase property in Brantford you will be taxed as a property owner the same as any Canadian, American, German, Mohawk, or any other nationality. I hope this helps you better understand our tax system.”
Taxation and the underlying interest need to be resolved before blood money is handed to the Six Nations further complicating any hope for resolution. This creates a need for clean hands for those that claim to deal in the Haldimand tract interests. It also may place a legal burden on Six Nations to perform or provide additional services. Six Nations council may want to be careful in making claims without the ability to back them up. Intermeddling into other people’s rights can make them liable as trustees
The SNC’s claims to the Haldimand tract are dubious at best, and their lack of awareness raises serious questions about their motives. Are they more interested in securing a financial windfall than in resolving the underlying land issue? If so, they are treading on dangerous ground. The Six Nations should be working with the municipalities to restore the land to the Mohawk posterity, not trying to come up with a fair way to tax the land. The SNC’s actions are tantamount to theft, and they will only serve to further alienate the Mohawks from the Haldimand tract.
The right to the earnings of the land, wealth generation, or the right to tax is the heart of the land issue, those who own the land have the power to tax, In 1994 Brantford Mayor Bob Taylor conducted a commission on the lands claims issue, and found that 90% of Brantford was subject to lands claims, and an astronomical figure of 250 Billion was suggested as the value of the land use. But, after many attempts to get the records, we have no way to know what this number truly represents. Some have suggested this is an admission of past rents due, but I have a feeling this is a buyout price. Again without our own value structure or even reviewing Brantford’s assessment we will never know a number, but what magic number allows someone to buy into a treaty right? What number undoes the promise of forever?
If taxes were included in the assessed values, that figure may be much higher; today at a compound interest of 6% would be around 650 Billion. Levying taxes and assessed values is a way to assume worth or value. But, it is not evidence of who has the ultimate right to the underlying interest of the lands, which includes infrastructure, wealth generation, natural resources, and of course taxation.
The government may have a claim to some of that wealth through taxation, but they do not have a claim to the land itself. This is why I believe that the government does not have the right to levy taxes on our lands. The Municipalities should accept these are not race-based demands, these rights to this land are inclusive of the underlying interest guaranteed to our people in the Haldimand Pledge of 1779, if you are unfamiliar with the concept of Status Quo Ante Bellum, I encourage you now to look it up and then evaluate the language in the pledge, here is a brief overview: The term status quo ante bellum is a Latin phrase meaning “the situation as it existed before the war”. The term was originally used in treaties to refer to the withdrawal of enemy troops and the restoration of prewar leadership. Not only is the pledge the ratified treaty, but it also guarantees that the Mohawk would be “restored at the expense of the Government, to the state they were in before the wars broke out”.
The Haldimand Pledge of 1779 … “Sir Guy Carleton, was pleased to promise, as soon as the present troubles were at an end, the same should be restored at the expense of the Government, to the state they were in before the wars broke out, and said promise appearing to me just, I do hereby ratify the same.
Proving the use of the concept of Status Quo Ante Bellum, means our debts are paid in full, including all future demands of any taxes or claims on our promised lands. This concept also secured our National right to self-determination, and our right to refuse the Six Nations Council to represent the Haldimand Tract. Confusing our national treaty-making process and our international relationships as race-based is highly damaging, for many reasons, but it’s a form of deflection or some hard-to-explain form of discrimination, hard to prove ignorance is intentional.
Regardless of intention the results are the same, reducing our National character to a race-based issue, arbitrarily denying someone’s Nationality is a human rights issue, and simply confusing our National Identity and Treaty issue, as a race issue might delay the remedy process because it does complicate our approach. Having to reset the stage every term, is not only tedious it’s designed to wear people thin. The truth is not hard to see, so if you haven’t already read our essay Legal Posterity, we explain how to escape the never-ending maze.
When a council personal came to my door in 2014, he introduced himself as my ward councilor, and gave me his hand, I said before I shake your hand can you tell me if you represent a Mohawk, he said no, and I shook his hand, I stepped out and Dave Neumann and I talked for over an hour, I explained that if you can’t represent a Mohawk, how can you claim to tax one. He said that although he can understand what I was asking, he said that taxes are the lifeblood of the city.
The city and others along the Grand River are terrified of this supply of blood drying up, and they can’t admit that this lifeblood belongs to the Mohawk people.
But because Mohawks have no way to recover our underlying interest on our own terms, we are left with scraps, after Cities and Six Nations Councils have their fill, draining every last drop of blood from the land and our Mohawk veins.
Don’t get me wrong I would love for Mohawks and Six Nations to receive our share of lifeblood, an injection of capital that could help project our aspirations of total liberation, but if this so-called lifeblood is tainted by untruths then, we also become tainted.
A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit. A rotten tree only produces rotten fruit, and that is something that Six Nations Council needs to keep in mind while picking fruit from these low-hanging branches. Taking care to protect all interests means taking a close look at that tree, has the tree been made rotten, or is it healthy, fresh, and the fruit ripe for taking?