Text from Information Leaflet distributed in Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory:
The Culbertson is a tract of land, 923 acres in size that runs along the eastern boundary of Tyendinaga. It was stolen by the Feds in 1837.
Tyendinaga’s Chiefs immediately registered their people’s dissent but no formal legal process existed to pursue its return. After the Government finally got around to creating such a process in 1991, Tyendinaga filed a formal land claim.
In November 2003, the Feds acknowledged that the Culbertson Tract was never surrendered and is Mohawk Land. They then tried for several years to get Tyendinaga to take a buy-out for the land. The people of Tyendinaga repeatedly refused.
The town of Deseronto falls in the middle of the Culbertson claim. The Mayor of Deseronto said that the town’s economic viability and survival depends on the development of Culbertson tract lands and began promoting the land for condos and townhouses late last year. Tyendinaga’s Rotiskenhrakehte successfully stopped development of these lands and the developer publicly abandoned plans for a 30 million dollar project.
However, Thurlow Aggregates continues to operate a Gravel Quarry on Culbertson Tract lands. Despite the fact that Tyendinaga has requested its licence be revoked given ongoing negotiations, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources continues to license the quarry for the removal of 150,000 tons of gravel annually. Federal negotiations are clearly in bad faith as they choose to ignore the 850 plus truckloads of Tyendinaga land that are removed every month. In January 2007, Tyendinaga’s
Rotiskenhrakehte gave the quarry operator 60 days notice to stop selling off Mohawk land. The time for voluntary closure has lapsed and Tyendinaga has now assumed the burden of closing the gravel pit.
Text from Information Leaflet distributed in Tyendinaga, Mohawk Territory – March 2007
Tyendinaga Update: The Fight for Return of Culbertson Tract Lands
The Culbertson Land Tract
The Culbertson is a tract of land, 923 acres in size that runs along the eastern boundary of Tyendinaga today. In 1837 the Federal Government changed the status of the land from Indian land to white land.
All agreements with the Mohawk Nation predate the existence of Canada.
While the Mohawk Chiefs immediately registered their people’s dissent in 1837 when the land was stolen, no formal legal process existed to pursue its return. Despite a fundamental obligation to uphold previous agreements between the Mohawks and the crown, the Federal Government only created such a process in 1991.
Tyendinaga filed a formal claim for the land with the Feds in 1995. The claim seeks the restoration of lands to the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.
In November 2003, Tyendinaga received a letter from the Federal Government acknowledging what the people of Tyendinaga have always known: That the Culbertson Tract was never surrendered and is Mohawk Land.
Since then the Federal Government has been trying to get Tyendinaga to take a buy-out for the land. Mohawk people know the value of land cannot have a dollar sign attached and that the future generations of our growing population will depend on this land. Tyendinaga will accept nothing less than the full and unfettered return of these lands to Mohawk control and use.
The Mayor of Deseronto has said that the town’s economic viability and survival depends on the development of Culbertson tract lands.
Tyendinaga’s Rotiskenhrakehte have twice ensured that deadlines to begin development of these lands have not been realized. “If they cannot find a way to survive without our land then they simply cannot continue to exist”, said Tyendinaga Mohawk, Shawn Brant.
The Rotiskenhrakehte have also been mandated to close a Deseronto quarry, situated on Culbertson Tract lands, that literally digs up, sells off and ships out Mohawk land by the truckload. This obscene state of affairs can no longer be tolerated.
Land Claim Arrests
The Government struck back last Friday in a failed attempt to slow the momentum in the reclamation of 923 acres of Mohawk Nation Lands in Tyendinaga.
Friday’s attempt to target and remove Tyendinaga leadership with a clear embellishment of events surrounding the charges of Shawn Brant and Mario Baptiste has done nothing more than inflame the situation and anger the community.
Shawn and Mario would likely still be in jail if Tyendinaga community members had not responded immediately with imminent plans to shut down Deseronto completely.
The motive for the charges was made clear when the Crown pushed (unsuccessfully) for conditions barring the accused from Deseronto and the Culbertson Land Claim Tract entirely.
“We have been denied our land for 170 years. That’s not going to fly anymore. There is no level of Government or police force that will keep a Mohawk off their own land”, said Tyendinaga, Mohawk Nation citizen, Jay Maracle.
Images of the Culbertson Tract and the struggle for the land can be viewed at: http://ocap.ca/firstnations/tyendinaga/culberston