By the late Mrs. Alma Greene
Editor’s note: This letter was given to TRT writer Jim Windle by Chief Arnold General which was written by Mohawk historian, elder, author and seer Alma Greene (Kawenohstohn) in the 1960s or ‘70s. She was born in the 1890s and died in 1983. Greene was attributed to casting the famous curse on Brantford’s Market Square, the present site of the downtown Mall. The mall has never been viable since it was built in the late 1980s.This 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.
We the people of the Six Nations Confederacy of the Grand River Country, under the protection of the Haldimand Deed made between Sir Frederick Haldimand, in His Majesty’s name King George III, and Captain Joseph Brant, also by the proclamation of the King dated Oct. 7, 1763, desire that you exempt, the Six Nations from the Indian Act which was introduced in 1869 and never accepted by the Six Nations Confederacy.
This Indian Act, not only does it deny the people their legal status, abolishes all power, deprives us of our every possession, subjecting us to removal from our lands, and taxation, but has established swarms of offices and officers which harass our people and eat our substance. In general it may be stated that our entire freedom is jeopardized and this Indian Act is subject to revision, amendments or substitution.
Under this Act we have become Wards and subjects under dictatorship while the international obligations between the Six Nations and the British Crown, the Covenant Chain, the Pipe of Peace, the Treaty of Utrecht, the Wampum Treaty, etc., exempts us from any foreign power to legislate laws and enforce same.
And these Treaties created by two separate Nations verifies the fact that we were and are Sovereign People, being classed as Allies in the Treaties and not subjects, also specifies we are a Sovereign People and that the Crown having no legal right to transfer the Alliance to a third party (Canada) without the consent and approval of the two parties involved, and by conforming to this establishment, we relinquish all rights, abolish our most valuable laws and altering fundamentally the status of the Six Nations. Therefor, our only recourse against the tyranny of the Indian Act is the complete removal and abolishment.
Great Britain has always recognized the Six Nations of the Grand River as legitimate inheritors of an ancient sovereignty and have so declared in a memorial filed by the British Imperial Government in 1912, in the presentation of a pecuniary claim against the United States for the benefit of the Cayugas of the Grand River and in the following language referred to at the time of the settlement at Grand River.
“The Six Nations were recognized as independent Nations and Allies of the Dutch and afterwards by the English of whom the Dutch surrendered their possessions in 1664.”
“These confederate Nations have ever since resided upon the Grand River where they have been domiciled and established, maintaining their cohesion and ancient construction and method of government.” (from British Memorial VIPI Ottawa, Dominion of Canada)
On the 24th of September, 1664, the first treaty of alliance was entered into between the English and Five Nations and ratified. It provided:
“That if any English, Dutch or Indian (under the protection of the English) do any wrong, injury or violence to any of the said princes or their subjects in any sort whatever if they complain to the governor of New York or to the officers in Chief at Albany, if the person so offending shall be discovered, that person shall receive condigne (sic) punishment and all due satisfaction shall be given; and like shall be given to any to His Majesty’s subjects in any colony or plantation in America.”
“That if any Indian belonging to any of the Sachems aforesaid do any wrong, injury or damage to the English, Dutch or Indians under the protection of the English, if complaint is made to the Sachems and the persons be discovered who did the injury, then the person so offending shall be punished and all just satisfaction shall be given to any of His Majesty’s subjects in any colony or plantation in America.”
On June 13, 1717, at a conference in Albany, the terms of the alliance were clearly and definitely stated by Governor Hunter as follows;
“We are met here at this place by order of the King of Great Britain, my Master. In the same public and solemn manner, I, here in His name and by His command renew the ancient covenant with the Five Nations, promising on His pact that all the known conditions of the said covenant shall be duly and punctually observed, so long as you shall honestly and faithfully perform what has been in all times hitherto been promised and performed. And to prevent all mistakes on this head, I must remind you of what has ever been meant and understood by you as well as us, by the Covenant Chain, that is that on the one hand the subjects of His Majesty on this continent should not only refrain from all acts of hostility or anything tending that way towards you but readily assist you when attacked by others, or enable you by such methods as were in power to repel force by force or defend yourselves, and on the other hand, you were on your part to live in strictest friendship with all His Majesty’s subjects, and in case they should be attacked by any enemy whatever, to afford them to readiest and most effective assistance in your power.” (N.Y. Doc Vol. 5 P 484.)
In 1733 Governor Montgomerie assured the Six Nations;“You need fear no enemies while you are true to your allegiance with him, the King. (N.Y. Doc. 5 P 963).
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 and 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.”