There are two concepts present here in this Iroquois community along the Grand River that appear to confuse many people: the concept of Wishful Thinking and Political Reality, in relation to the governance of the community.
The concept of Wishful Thinking comes into play when the many supporters of the old and outdated Iroquois Confederacy Chiefs Council believe that somehow the Chiefs Council will miraculously re-assume a position of Iroquoian Tribal Governance that has not existed in the community for well over 90 years. The concept of Political Reality comes into play when the man on the street, or in this case, the Indian on the rez, observes the Six Nations Chief and her Elected Council going through the day-to-day business of running the reserve based on a democratic system of governance.
Yes; it is true that at some undefined point in the 1800s well after Joseph Brant had passed on, the people in this Grand River community re-introduced to their community a form of the original Iroquois Confederacy Chiefs Council of governance that had existed in the Iroquois communities of North America prior to the birth of the United States of America in the late 1700s. However; the Grand River iteration of the original Iroquois Confederacy Chiefs Council appeared to lack the political will and the staying power of the old system of Iroquoian Governance and was replaced by a democratic form of governance in 1924. Moving forward from 1924 up to the present day, the two local systems of governance have been at odds with one another over the governing of the territory as both entities want to be the boss and every reasonable person knows that there can only be one boss or in this instance; one Chicf.
Of course; we are all aware that there really are, many chiefs in the Iroquois Confederacy Chiefs Council and no individual chief really out ranked any of the other chiefs and we are all aware that the term, chief is not the title held by the men who comprise the old Iroquois Confederacy Council. However; chief is the title of the man or woman who heads up the modern day democratically elected council here at the Six Nations of the Grand River and this form of governance is in no danger of being done away with any time soon and as (they say), we must learn to live with it.
Now, just saying something will not make it happen and as we have all witnessed in the very recent past in an open field near the town of Caledonia, there is a group of Iroquois people gathered in an effort to try and get the Canadian government and the Ontario government to renegotiate something that is not renegotiable and all the wishful thing in the world is Not going to change that. The question of who or why the Burtch property was returned to has been answered by all the parties involved even though the deal was done in a very underhanded way by all the parties involved in the final transfer of the land. If the Feds; the province and the highly paid representatives of the Six Nations Senior Administrative Officer’s, had all carried out their due diligence responsibilities the land would have been returned to the Mohawks and others of the Six Nation Indians according to the wording of the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 and not to a corporation headed up by the same team of negotiators from the reservation who had, with the Feds and the province done the dirty deed, as they say.
It is interesting to note here, that in this situation, that even though there are many of us who support the Six Nations Elected Council and the Democratic Process of governance; here in the Burtch Land Transfer Process, many of us are actually in agreement with the supporters of the Iroquois Confederacy Chiefs Council but not the Chiefs Council itself that this deal was handled in a completely undemocratic fashion as most of us were never made aware of the land Transfer details until the transfer had actually occurred and all the wishful thinking by everyone one of we individual people will not force any of the parties to renegotiate this deal.
The reality of the political situation here on the Six Nations of the Grand River is that even though we have a democratically elected form of governance of one person one vote, we always seem to end up with a local governing body comprised of the same members of the community which is, in reality, undemocratic; and more in line with that of a dictatorial form of governance where the governing body gets to remain in office until the members die or are forced out of office by a Coup De’ Tet or some other violent form of removal.
And so; the reality of the political situation here in the Grand River valley is that in the realm of local band governance we have what we have and until we the people can somehow overcome all of our individual and societal difficulties involving governance, all the wishful thinking in the world will never get us out of the unsavoury political realities we are currently firmly caught up in.
I think there is a need for both parties involved in this power struggle. The traditionalists are needed to insure our heritage is not lost and taught to the youth of today. With all due respect the traditionalists have show an inability time and again to make informed decisions on behalf of the Six Nations people (HDI, Aaron Detlor). The elected council is needed to deal with unscrupulous politicians and administrate funds sent to the Six Nations people, who have chosen the people they want to do so. I strongly disagree that democracy is being challenged by the same people being chosen to represent the people of Six Nations. If they were not doing a good job or not making the people happy they simply would not be reelected. If anything this shows a great deal of respect for the job they are doing. The chief of SNEC was originally elected by three votes in her first term then won in a landslide victory in her reelection which to me is a huge vote of confidence in the leadership of the SNEC. Perhaps a referendum to address these issues is needed to end the infighting, which is exactly what the government wants, divide and conquer, its worked for them for 200 years !!
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