In 1991, the HCCC publicly declared they were asserting eight points of sovereign jurisdiction over Haudenosaunee affairs: among them the jurisdiction over The Great Law and its laws; Our land; Our treaties; International Relations in regard to war, peace, commerce and taxation; Membership; Installation of Chiefs; Maintenance of all our ceremonies; and Justice and Law.
In 2014, without the knowledge of the Haudenosaunee clan families or the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council — the Haudenosaunee Development Institute put those eight points of jurisdiction under the responsibility of a numbered corporation, 2438543 Ontario Inc.
That corporation was an unknown entity until a Two Row Times investigation revealed its existence and the facts surrounding HDI’s use of the numbered company to secure a multi-million dollar deal with a wind and solar farm.
That contract waived the application of sovereign immunity over Haudenosaunee lands and the HCCC surrendered the right to apply Haudenosaunee law on lands under the jurisdiction of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
None of this was done with the wider Six Nation’s community’s consent. None of it was done with the wider consent of the Haudenosaunee people at large.
Since that time, the focus of a lot of my investigative reporting has been on the activities of the Haudenosaunee Development Institute and their exclusion of the people of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
In 2022, news broke that HDI filed a motion to intervene in Six Nations land claim case through the Canadian courts.
I maintained my investigative reporting throughout the claim — and detailed HDI’s ask — seeking that the courts remove the elected council as beneficiary and instead require Canada and Ontario to negotiate the settlement with the HCCC.
For my reporting in that case, for comments I made on social media and for my opinion pieces as a Haudenosaunee person watching it all go down — HDI has launched a lawsuit against my husband Jonathan, myself and the Two Row Times.
In the claim, HDI is asking the Ontario court to issue an order that Two Row Times content about them be removed from publication — whether that be in print, online, in archives or on social media… and to permanently ban the Two Row Times, my husband Jonathan, or myself from publishing any “defamatory statements concerning” HDI. We interpret this as an effort to stop us from publishing, in any capacity, any critical analysis about HDI that it doesn’t like. HDI is suing us for $150,000.
Because HDI is using the Canadian court system to advance its claim instead of utilizing internal Haudenosaunee processes — we are being forced to enter into a foreign court system to deal with this internal issue to protect our family.
Put another way — if we decided to abstain from all participation in the lawsuit because it has been put into a foreign court — which was my preference — HDI could have been granted something called a default judgement which means the court could have made an order against Jonathan, myself and the paper for the $150,000 — along with the other relief HDI is asking for. That could have been enforced by garnishing our wages, freezing our bank accounts and seizing our assets.
This has been a difficult decision for us — but we both felt we were left with no choice and had to retain a lawyer in order to protect our family, our children and our business. We have now filed a motion to stay this lawsuit as it does not belong in an Ontario court. Unfortunately, we must participate in the Ontario court system at least to ask the Ontario court to stay the lawsuit. We will be expected to file affidavits and be cross-examined, and an open court hearing will be held in February 2024 for Ontario to determine if HDI can sue us.
In our view, this lawsuit is an attack on the rights of all people at Six Nations to freedom of expression.
It is, to us, an obvious attempt by HDI, presumably with the HCCC’s consent, to sterilize the public record of any critical analysis and use the Canadian court system to silence and other people from the community of Six Nations with whom they have ideological or political differences.
That is the opposite of using a Good Mind, the Ganigohiyoh, which is the foundational governance process our People have relied upon since time immemorial to examine all of our minds, listen to one another, provide reassurance, establish peace and find consensus.
I come from a family line with a long and respected history of being involved in upholding Haudenosaunee sovereignty. I was born into the Dehatgahtos Onondaga Beaver clan family. Our Publisher and my husband Jonathan Garlow was born into the Rahstawehserondah Mohawk Bear clan family.
We are natural born Haudenosaunee people and direct descendants of the Garlow and Jacket Hill Mohawk Warrior loyalists who settled at Grand River. Our ancestors also include the General, Claus, Crawford, Butler, Jacobs, Nash, Maracle, Green, Doxtator and Brant families who fought for centuries, carrying titles at council as chiefs, war chiefs and clan mothers who fought for our rights to remain Six Nations people — separate and apart from Canada.
HDI is demonstrating an inequitable approach to governance — in which Haudenosaunee sovereignty only applies to a select few.
HDI has not yet presented any evidence to us that the Haudenosaunee clan families of the Kentyokwanhasta raised concerns about our content. Nor are we aware of any record of the clan families coming together to council and making a consensus decision to direct HDI to launch a lawsuit against us.
Instead, we received letters out of nowhere from a law firm retained by HDI threatening the lawsuit that HDI later filed. In taking these steps, HDI abandoned all Great Law protocol and immediately fled to Canadian law and a foreign court — completely excluding the clan families — and giving Ontario the sole voice in this matter, through its courts, demanding they pick a side and meddle in Haudenosaunee internal affairs.
The HCCC cannot continue to claim it is a government if they are not going to act like one. Allowing HDI to rely on Canadian courts for internal affairs flies in the face of Haudenosaunee sovereignty and is an insult to the People of the clan families of the Kentyokwanhasta who throughout history have fought for it to be recognized.
To date, HCCC has not reached out to us requesting any corrections or retractions.
In addition, they have made false statements about our business to the community and to this day, have published wild conspiracy theories on their website claiming that we are part of a grand master scheme to destroy the Confederacy. That is completely untrue.
They have ignored our public requests for conflict resolution, for removal of that content from their website and have gone so far as to create policies to prohibit our reporters from being able to access information that the public has a right to know.
Instead, they are relying on the divisive, disruptive antics of HDI as a delegate to use the Canadian Justice system to threaten us for reporting the truth and sharing the opinions of our community. They are attempting to hold us accountable for a violation of Canadian laws — laws they themselves reject — instead of utilizing the Great Law of Peace.
The Ontario court has already found HDIs use of the Canadian courts to make a public display of their governance struggles on Six Nations to be an abuse of process.
The hereditary Chiefs and Clan Mothers of our Confederacy must fulfil their responsibilities to maintain the peace under the Great Law.
We are not defined as citizens but rather a flesh and blood People. We are the direct descendants of Haudenosaunee Women and Warriors who came to Grand River — surviving war, famine and genocide. Our ancestors gave their lives to ensure we would have a safe home where our differences would be honoured and our Haudenosaunee traditions, including internal conflict resolution, would continue.
We need help. We cannot financially sustain the pressure of this legal attack. We have posted a link online to a Go Fund Me campaign for anyone who wants to contribute to our legal costs. You can also support the Two Row Times directly through advertising. Anyone wishing to contribute to our legal defence fund not using the Go Fund Me process can email email@example.com for details.
We are humbled by the expression of support and love to date by the Haudenosaunee people and are committed to keep sharing the authentic voices, stories and opinions of the people for as long as we can.