The man I will always think of as the last true Mohawk Warrior, has finally found peace. Dick Hill died early Tuesday morning.
I knew the day would come when I’d have to write this, not for an article or for any other reason than that is the way I am wired. When something tragic happens, I must write my heart because I’ve always found that easier than speaking it.
I thank the Creator that he crossed my path with Dick Hill’s. He was the bravest and strongest man I have ever encountered in my life walk and I am enriched to have known him, but humbled and grateful to be able to say that he knew me too.
Dick would always be there, protecting his people and his land. And not just his friends, he’d stand with even those who spoke badly of him or with those he didn’t particularly like.
If something was going down, it wouldn’t be long before that big black Yukon would show up. And when it did, like a magnet, people would go to the truck and almost instinctively ask him what they should do. He never asked for that role, and sometimes he would even hate it, but it would always just happen spontaneously. To me, that is the sign of a true leader and a great man.
One of the things about him I will always remember and appreciate is the many times when things were very tense and volatile, he had the ability to find a peaceful resolution if there was one to be had. I personally know of several times when he averted what could have been an extremely difficult and dangerous confrontation by talking down a possible police action against his people. Even they knew that his warnings were not empty threats.
As rough around the edges as he was, he was also a very thoughtful man that truly cared about people. And not only his people, but all people.
There was a big black crow that lived in a tree near our back yard. My wife named him Dick, because he seemed to be everywhere. She jokingly accused him once of being a shape shifter because, even when you couldn’t see him, he’d text me to let me know he was “on the job”. He laughed at that notion, but he didn’t deny it.
When my mother died, he watched the internment from a hill a distance away and after everyone left, he went down and burned some tobacco for her. This is the other side of Dick Hill most people who didn’t know him well wouldn’t know.
The last time I visited him was before he became bed ridden. I felt like he wanted to be alone with his thoughts so I didn’t stay long. When I left, I told him that I loved him. It was awkward, but I had to tell him. From that day, I left him to be with his family and not have to talk about this protest action, or that road closing, or anything like that.
I did disagree with one thing he told me that day, and I still do.
He said, “Ya know Jimmy boy, looking back on it all, I wonder sometimes what the hell that was all about and what difference any of it really made. Nothing has changed.”
If your listening Dick, I have changed and you were a big part of that, and I don’t think I am alone either.
Thank you for letting me into your life.
Jim Windle[/tabs-content-group] [tabs-content-group id=”two”]
Dick was a real warrior and I am honoured to know him. He was a visionary and knew that actions well thought out give better results.
I guess Dick will be working with us from the other side.
Indeed, sad news. Had several meetings with Dick and like you learned a lot.
I deeply appreciated his total honesty.
I’ll watch for his service and pay my respects if able.
Dave (MPP Dave Levac)
It’s sad. He helped so many people here and in other communities as well. He will be very much missed by this community, me included. I have gone to him for advice many times. He was a real leader.
I’ve known Dick for a lot of years and I was sad to hear he passed away. He always tried to help his people and his community in whatever way he could.
Onondaga Chief Arnold General
As a junior reporter, I learned a lot from Mr. Hill about land claims and the reason for protests to get the message out about the important issue of government to honour all treaties. I had the privileged to cover these protests and interview Mr. Hill. Six Nations lost a great and inspirational man, who wanted nothing more than to see his nation and aboriginal rights adhered to, through meaningful consultation and respect. Thank you Mr. Hill, your legacy will carry on
Regional Editor in Labrador
There are not words for the loss of the Mohawk Nation of early morning, on learning of the passing of Dick Hill- to Hazel & Family, Condolences’ on the passing of your Beloved.
To the larger community of the Six Nations of the Grand River’ , you are in our hearts at this time. To the family of the Nation’ we grieve Dick Hill over the days to come’ and may
Great Peace be with, us all.
Barb Brant, Turtle Clan
A truly great man, condolences to Hazel and family.
I met Dick as a kid at the glebe lands, I tried chopping firewood and spun around and fell in the mud, Soak and wet and embarrassed, but everyone made sure I got dried up and by the woodstove, made me feel really welcomed and well taken care of. Niawen.
Till we stand together again shoulder to shoulder R.I.P. my friend. And my condolences to Hazel and the family.
He was a big man but I often wondered how the Creator fit such a huge spirit into that six foot space? He had a warriors heart and the tenacity of a Grizzzly Bear! His greatest gifts of all are left behind to miss him in the coming days my sincerest condolences to Hazel and to your kids and grand babies xoxo
Dick hated having his picture taken but I managed to sneak a few of him. He was the only one at the site who called me Channel 11 lol because of where I worked at the time. RIP my friend.
Tracy aka Channel 11
I started writing about my thoughts and feelings on the passing of Dick Hill, and this came out:
Beyond the deep sense of personal grief and loss from the passing of Dick Hill, Six Nations has lost its most powerful voice in relation to the armed forces of the Canadian State. Dick was respected, and more importantly, feared by CSIS, the RCMP, the OPP, the Brantford Police, and any number of other shady government agencies, judges and lawyers. In short, if you were out to interfere with the rights of Six Nations people, Dick Hill was a person that you had to take notice of.
As far as Dick was concerned, as long as he was within six miles of the Grand River he was home, on his peoples land and the cops and any other institution of white society had no jurisdiction or right to be there at all. Whether or not the Queen, the Prime Minister of Canada, or the Premier of Ontario realized that the Haldimand Tract was Indian land, Dick Hill knew that it was. He was not afraid to fight in defence of this idea, and he fully knew the stakes of the battle. The police respected that, and they knew that the people were with Dick, and that they would go with if he made a move. The cops know what happened on Day Zero at Kanonhstaton, and they haven’t forgotten yet.
Dick’s big Black Yukon truck was at every protest. He listened to what was going on, and he was there, observing, watching over the situation without fail every time. It didn’t matter what protest or action it was or how involved or uninvolved it was, if it involved Onkwehon:we people standing up for their rights, Dick was there sitting and watching. And if you had something to say that you wanted to get out into the collective unconscious of the Mohawk Nation, then you could go over to Dick Hill sitting in his truck, have a chat, share your thoughts, get his opinion, and know that was time well spent.
Dick was somebody who when he talked to the police – as he did when the police came looking for someone to be the leader – you could trust that he would behave as no friend of them, be straight and to the point, and explain clearly and uncompromisingly the way forward that was in the peoples interest. There would be none of this cloying with the cops, going out for dinner dates and coffee with them, and becoming friends bullshit. Dick didn’t play like that – he knew who was on what side and why.
He was an intimidating guy to be around if you didn’t know him. To those that did, you knew a whole other side to Dick. A lovely, kind, and inquisitive minded man who cared deeply about real flesh and blood people. Through it all, he was exemplary, he set the standard for what it meant to be a Rohskenhrakehte: one who carries the burden of peace.
You knew he wasn’t out for himself. He eschewed formal positions of leadership, wanting people to think and take action for themselves. At the same time, he wasn’t shy about offering his opinion. He cut through the bullshit, and called things like they were. He didn’t hold the view that any Six Nations institution was beyond reproach – far from it. And when he thought that they were full of it, he called out the band council, the Confederacy, the Mohawk Workers, and even the HDI. Dick Hill was political integrity epitomized.
He was, as Janie Jamieson, one of the central women leaders of Kanonhstaton, said in her tribute to Dick in the Two Row Times this week, “Dick Hill is to us Mohawks what Malcolm X was. An intelligent entity of hope for the people.” Let that sink in for a while, and then ponder the gravity of the loss on the largest Native reserve within the state that calls itself Canada.
Let us mourn, and let us reflect, but let us not forget our responsibilities. The problems of the world are getting worse – for all of the earth’s children – and we all need to play our role. When I think of Dick right now, I see him asking us “so now that I’m gone, what are you going to do?” and smiling with that twinkle in his eyes. Dick is free of carrying his burden now. For us all, the job is to identify that burden of peace, pick it up, and carry it on.
A photo of Dick in his element at the frontline of Kanonhstaton
Dick was a true warrior, not only for the advances he made protecting the land but for the peace he built.
Have a good journey my friend.
Jim Doxtdator[/tabs-content-group] [tabs-content-group id=”three”]