Hazel Update from Grand River September 25, 2007

Here is the latest update from Hazel Hill at Six Nations:

September 25, 2007

Update from Grand River


By Hazel Hill

When the land reclamation of Kanonhstaton first started over 18 months ago, the people involved asked for three conditions.

*They asked that the Confederacy Council be giving the lead. They wanted our traditional government to handle our lands and to protect and uphold our treaty rights.
*They asked that the clanmothers be involved. They wanted to help bring back the responsiblities of the clans and to ensure that the clan families were given a voice.
*They also asked that lawyers not speak for us and the Law to which we would be working under would be the Kaienerekowah, the Great Law, which is the foundation of our relations with all of Creation.

To date, all of these requests have been not only acknowledged, but adhered to. The Confederacy Chiefs are in the lead. Even the elected council agreed with this. The clanmothers have been actively involved in this process and are
working with their clan families and working with the women of this community to help those who are unsure of their clans understand where they fit in and how the clan process works. They are working at establishing a meeting place where
people can go to find out the history of their family and their clans if they are uncertain. The Law, which we are upholding and working with is, the Kaierenekowah. The lawyers, who are involved, be it with the Haudenosaunee or the Elected system, are there to advise and to assist. They are providing assistance, especially when the Crown representatives try to influence the negotiations by trying to bring their Canadian laws to the table through the Department of Justice, or through their ‘specific claims process’. Because those individuals who are there to assist are fully aware of Canadian laws, they can easily recognize when the Crown tries to box us in, or when they attempt to pull the Haudenosaunee into the Crown’s boat and under the Crown’s laws. They are not there to tell our Chiefs or any of our people what to do, they are only there to advise. We are sitting at the table according to our ancient covenants and treaties, specifically the Two Row and the Silver Covenant Chain. The Crown representatives have agreed in writing to this process.

These were the words used when the Onkwehonwe entered into the Two Row Wampum Treaty with the United States, and they were a re-affirmation of the words that were used in the same Treaty relationship with the French and the English. The same words were used in the Friendship Treaty Belt between the Onkwehonweh and the Dutch when asked by the Dutch which symbols will you go by…

“ We will go by these symbols: when the Creator made Morther Earth and created man to walk upon this earth to enjoy all nature’s fruits saying no one shall claim Mother Earth except the rising faces which are to be born; (1) as long as the sun shines upon this earth that is how long our agreement will stand; (2) as long as the water still flows; and (3) as long as the grass grows green at a certain time of the year. Now we have symbolized this agreement and it shall be binding forever as long as Mother Earth is still in motion. We have finished and we understand what we have confirmed and this is what our generation should know and learn not to forget.”

(These words were taken from a publication from the library of Jacob & Yvonne Thomas, 1978.) They weren’t just words sang by the original man in black!

Today, we are left with trying to get the Crown to uphold its end of this Treaty Relationship. The task has never been more in the forefront as it has been since the land reclamation of Kanonhstaton (former Douglas Creek Estates) began in February 2006 by the Onkwehonweh of what is now known as the Six Nations. Since this negotiation process has started, the Haudenosaunee representatives have continually reminded the Crown representatives of Canada that their obligation to uphold and protect this relationship is just as binding today as it was in the early 1600’s when the first friendship treaty was established. No law or any unilateral acts of the British Crown in the formation of what is now known as Canada or the United States can take away from those responsibilities, nor can any other law supercede these Treaties.

It’s also important to mention that long before Christopher Columbus ever set sail to come to our homelands, we had already established trade routes with other peoples and the reality is, this is what he was after. They wanted the resources of which our land was so rich with, and this is what they are continuing with today. The problem to date is that Canada continually acts as if we are in a litigation process and is still trying to be judge and jury as well as the accused.
This is not acceptable and is not the agreement of how we are sitting at this table. We are in Nation-to- Nation dialogue to resolve land rights that have been ignored, manipulated and misappropriated for centuries, and if we are to truly seek a peaceful resolution, this is the only way this can be done. So where does that leave us. We have the Federal and Provincial Government of Canada sitting at the negotiations table on these terms. But do they really understand and are they capable of upholding these terms. Some of our people think not. This is why the request was put to the Crown representative, the Governor General of Canada to reaffirm and polish the Silver Covenant Chain. So our minds would be refreshed and that we will be reminded that those three links, which stand for friendship, good minds and peace between
us, could be utilized to help in resolving the long standing grievances between our two peoples. To date, this request has been ignored. Many of our people believe that the only way this can be resolved is to have another Nation sit in as observers to ensure that this process is being adhered to.

As far as any progress at the negotiations, the only productive, positive, revolutionary suggestions that have been put forth, have been put forth by the Haudenosaunee. At our recent lands table meeting at the beginning of this month, the Haudenosaunee suggested that in order to move things more quickly, that the research teams from the Crown and the Haudenosaunee should work together, diligently, to go over all of the documentation that both parties have gathered, to bring a summary to the negotiators, rather than continue on this month by month volleying of materials back and forth with no real idea of where this information will be used to bring certainty to any of the land grievances in question. This was seen as a positive step and was accepted by the Crown as a way to move things forward.

The other thing that was suggested, again by the Haudenosaunee, was an offer to come up with some kind of formula that would allow for the interests of the Six Nations to be addressed when it comes to financial compensation in areas
where monies were collected on behalf of the Six Nations through land leases etc., but monies that were never used to benefit the Six Nations but rather, were used for the interest of the Crown in the establishment of what was formerly known
as Upper Canada. The idea came from our people as a result of the Crown’s inability or unwillingness to provide an accurate and formulated reasoning for the offer of $125 million that was put to the Six Nations several months ago. They want us to relinquish title to the land. This will never happen. They want us to lump several of their ‘claims’ into one bucket for
resolution, without giving us an idea of how they formulated their offer in the first place. Again, unacceptable. It is neither fair nor just.

The only formula by which we have left to use is based on the settlement which they quickly provided to the Henning brothers who were contracted to originally develop the lands, and who within several months of having their development stopped, were given a substantial amount of settlement, I’m guessing, based on today’s market value. As the titleholders, we not only have the right to compensation for the loss of use, but we also have the responsibility to the coming faces to ensure that their interests, for the current and ongoing land use, provides compensation in a way that respects the perpetual care and maintenance that these leases were originally designed for. The offer to the Six Nations was miniscule compared to that which was given to the Hennings, and until we are able to come to an agreement on a formula that addresses everyone’s concerns, it is inexcusable for them to expect us to accept or even consider any offer. The fact is, it was an attempt to try and show the rest of the world that they were the one’s being honourable and that somehow the Haudenosaunee were being unreasonable. It was being used as a political ploy to gain support and gather votes for their political party.

This is where the third and final attempt at finding a resolution comes from, and not just for Kanonhstaton, but, throughout all of our land base within Turtle Island. The Hodiyanison, in our council, have adopted a protocol established through what is being called the Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), that allows for consultation between municipalities and
developers to properly and formally consult with the Haudenosaunee. This was done outside of the negotiations because quite frankly, the provincial and federal representatives refused to heed to the advise and concerns of our people that it
was imperative for them to stop issuing development permits on unceded lands along the Grand River. They were told that as long as they continued issuing permits, it was considered direct action, and that they were shoving our people’s faces in “it”. The Province continued to advise the developers that it was business as usual, and continued using the Grand River Notification Act that requires them only to notify the elected system that a development is being considered. They were also advised early on in negotiations that this practice was unacceptable to the Haudenosaunee and did not meet our consultation requirements. What’s important and what people need to understand is that the Province has failed to recognize and respect their own laws, which require them to consult. In 2004 in the cases of Haida and Taku, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that it was not legal for the Crown (including the Province and/or any of its agents such as a municipality) to issue permits which would have the effect of limiting established or asserted rights without undertaking consultation and accommodation of the right in question. The Province of Ontario has failed to consult with the Haudenosaunee with respect to permits issued for current projects and as such, the permits are not legal within Canadian law and work should immediately cease. They don’t want to do that. They want to holler about the Law of the Land, but only when it is convenient.

Recently the HDI has been likened to the mafia, calling one of the representatives Tony Soprano. It’s been suggested through the media and gossip columns that what we’re involved in is some kind of extortion because in our process land fees and financial benefits for the Haudenosaunee might be part of the agreement. Let’s back up a minute here. First of all, we are a Sovereign Nation. WE DO NOT NEED ANYONE’S PERMISSION TO MAKE AND ASSERT LAWS UPON OUR LANDS. We are at liberty to enter into agreements with whomever we so desire to protect the interests of our future generations, and we fully intend to continue to do so. And we will assert our authority by whatever means we feel necessary with respect to our lands and the land use. Land user fee’s and lease agreements are the basis by which a lot of these towns and townships were built. What went wrong is the Crown reneged on the payments of those same leases, they created phoney land titles and patents, they’ve been charging their citizens taxes, land fee’s, development fee’s etc., etc., on lands to which they have no legal title. Now you tell me who the real extortionists are!!!!

The HDI is a way of moving forward in the form of renewing the leases if we so desire, or having those leases termed as null and void for failure to make payment, and thereby the Crown would relinquish their claim on our lands. It also maintains the position of the Haudenosaunee that title to our lands cannot be relinquished, but we recognize that the interests of other’s, including the Canadian citizens who are now occupying those lands, who have been left to basically deal with things on their own by their political representatives, are being considered and protected as well. Again, it is the Haudenosaunee or who are looking out for the interests of all, including those of our neighbours. You may recall several months ago in one of my updates that the Crown was informed that if they continually refused to stop issuing the permits for development of our lands, if they failed to come to the table honestly and with integrity to try and come to a resolution, that they left the Haudenosaunee with no choice but to deal directly with the developers, municipalities and individuals.

They were given notice. They refused to comply, and now we are following through. Simple as that. As the only Sovereign on these lands, given the authority through our Peacemaker, no other nation has the right to interfere. It gets back to what was suggested nearly a year ago and that is for the Crown to admit that it has done wrong. To me, if they truly wanted to have a peaceful resolution, they would simply admit that there were wrongs committed, and begin working with us at sorting out how to best address those wrongs. Admitting ones mistakes is the beginning of setting in motion an opportunity to correct them, and to also learn from the past to prevent future mistakes. So again, it is the honour of the Crown that is at stake.

There were also statements made from the Elected Chief implying that HDI process is illegal. This too shows the lack of understanding and education some of our very own people have on who we truly are as Haudenosaunee. And while I have to give them some credit because the elected council did recently issue a letter to Haldimand Township advising them to stop development within the Haldimand Township, it is almost more in line with campaigning than sincerity. The elected Chief and others on the band council; (I will not say all because some have worked tirelessly and endlessly to try and help) for the most part, have followed in the footsteps of the Crown. Whether it is because they feel they are obligated to, or whether it is they don’t understand, the reality is; they are playing right into the hands of the Crown and are helping in the attempted destruction of our traditional council, a government that dates back hundreds of centuries. A government that
was established through the Peacemaker, and based on the Law which was given by our Creator. A God given Law. It is really hurtful to know that some on the elected council are sitting there, hoping and waiting for the Confederacy Council to fail in its endeavour to protect and uphold those ancient customs. They say they are the government. What kind of government
would be cheering for the demise and destruction of its own people. What kind of government would be gleefully counting the days where they can childishly laugh and point fingers and say “I knew you couldn’t do it”. What kind of government would work with the enemy, to plot against its own people. To work not to help in the process, but to work against it every step of the way in the hopes that this attempt at finding a peaceful resolution would fail. It is not a government that has the interests of its people at heart, of, that I am certain. But it is what it is, and they are the ones that have to face our Creator and answer for what they are doing and the things that they have already done.

Which brings us to the last part of this update. The Stirling Street development. A lot of our people who are fed up with the on-going development on our lands and have been working hard at giving notice to developers in many towns and townships along the Grand River, informing them that they are developing on unceded territory and that they are required
to consult with our Confederacy Council. They weren’t told to do it. It’s within their basic human rights to do so. These demonstrations have always been peaceful and without incident. No one, except those involved, truly knows what happened at the Stirling St. development site. What we do know is that someone ended up hospitalized and that some of our young people were hurt. A statement issued from the Confederacy Council offered its condolences that a man was hurt and that violence could not be condoned. They didn’t imply that our young people were guilty, nor did they excuse the
developer for any of his own part for the violence that erupted, they simply said as a Peace Council, that they could not condone violence. They further stated that we would honour the word of our Haudenosaunee representatives, who had helped find a resolution that day. The tentative agreement that was reached was simply that all construction was to stop, and we in turn, would leave the land for three day’s to allow time for us to come to a peaceful resolution. This did not come from just one man. It came from discussions with everyone who was at that site that day. The people who were there to
protest, told their concerns, and their concerns were taken to the developer to try and come to a resolution. A tentative agreement was reached. What followed was that some of our people didn’t honour that agreement because they said that
they weren’t consulted and they felt that the developers hadn’t honoured their end of the agreement because developers were still on the site after a given time, and they said that the Haudenosaunee representatives weren’t speaking for them. This resulted in several day’s of continued discussions between Haudenosaunee representatives and the developer, as well as many internal meetings and discussions with not only those who had occupied the development site, but also within the territory. The Chiefs and Clanmothers and the rest of the people involved were left with the huge task of trying to resolve it so that no further violence would erupt. First and foremost, they were required to follow and adhere to the principals of the Kaienerekowah. The Great Law of Peace, which it is often referred to. They also had to look beyond today. They had to look toward the future and the seven generations that we all talk about, but rarely ever consider when we make rash decisions, without thought or consideration of the effects that this will have on everyone else and everything we are all working toward. These are the things that weighed heavy on their minds and in their hearts as they were called by the press to respond to the situation after a man was hospitalized, when none of them had any real clue as to what had happened
or even why it had happened. They were left to try and deal with a situation, that no matter how good the original intention was, had had a negative rippling effect throughout Onkwehonweh territories. They had meeting after meeting, discussion after discussion, phone calls, meetings with their clans and other people in the community, sitting down and talking with the people who had taken the action, trying to understand, and hearing from them what had happened; at the same time reminding them of the responsiblities that come with standing and protecting that Law, trying somehow to come
to a decision that would do what it is they are required to do. And that is to protect the over-all interests of ALL of our people throughout Haudenosaunee territories not just here in Grand River, as well as to protect the interests of all the other Onkwehonweh who are counting on this process to succeed. They had to think about all of those people who don’t necessarily believe in the traditional government, those people who follow the band council, our elders who can’t come out to council and they also had to consider the coming faces. They had to uphold and protect the very essence of who we are as a people and the Ancient Law, customs and rituals that were provided to us through the Peacemaker. And yes, they had to look out and protect our interests in the land. They even had to take into consideration the non-natives who are being used as pawns by the Crown agents in this political game they seem to be playing with people’s lives. All of these things they had to consider and stay focused on and that is what they did. This was no easy task. Out of all of these things they had to consider, they had to come to one mind in the Chiefs Council, and this is where the concensus comes in. And this is where the problem lies. The press right now is trying to make it out to be a “splinter group” and has suggested that some of us have referred to our people as such. This is not the way it is. In our ways, in the Cayuga language, it is referred to as ‘O:YA NON DAGAEYA GODINIGOHA’, which translates to ‘they’ve chosen a different idea to do something different from what the council thought best for this situation’. So again, the importance of understanding what has happened and the importance of our languages when the outside world wants to paint it with a very small brush, the true meaning can get lost in translation. It is the same as what has happened in the history of the land leases, which the Crown wants to say are surrenders, and our history and oral traditions tell us that they were leases for plough’s depth, and for our perpetual care and maintenance. Accusations and finger pointing that the Chiefs and Clanmothers somehow violated our Law is the end result of these misinterpretations. And for everyone of our people who feel that they were abandoned, that they weren’t consulted, and that concensus was not reached, there are 200 times more of our people who felt the same way about the actual action taken by those who stopped the development. They didn’t have concensus, nor did they consult the rest of the people or the Confederacy Council. But the true blame and responsibility of what happened at the Stirling St. development site and the resulting violence that erupted, lies with the Crown. The Provincial government for not adhering to their own laws which require them to stop issuing development permits on our lands until they have fully consulted with the Haudenosaunee, and the Federal government for not showing any leadership in ensuring that the laws to which they are all obligated, are followed. There again, this has always been their strategy. And once again, we fell for it. Divide and Conquer. I’m sure someone, somewhere, is getting a really good chuckle over how they were able to once again, throw a monkey wrench into what was a really strong and powerful movement by the Haudenosaunee at asserting our land rights, conveniently at a time when the Haudenosaunee Development Institute had just been launched.

As far as statements that the Clanmothers and Chiefs and others turned our people over to the police and have committed treason, it is the furthest thing from the truth. When concensus was reached to work something out with the developer, basically what was being said was simply that “this is our circle and this is where our people, and our laws are. This is what we are obligated to protect. This is where we would like all of our people to stay and we will all work together to resolve it, and to continue on the path that we have set in motion to secure the land rights of all of our lands, not just this one small “development area”. It was felt to be the best decision to maintain the peace in the already racially descriminatory town of Haldimand. It was felt to be the best decision strategically as the lands in question would be more like a trap to our people should we choose to dig in on that one small piece of property. It was felt that while we might allow this developer to continue in this area, without relinquishing our title and our rights to the lands, without absolving the Crown of its obligations to the original lease agreements, there were far greater areas that would not be considered for development, areas that we fully intend to secure for our future expansion through the implementation our own “places to grow legislation”. This isn’t about any claims process as some people believe. The Haudenosaunee will always retain our rights to the land. For many days there were Faithkeepers, Clanmothers, Chiefs, and many of our Ratiskenekethe that took it upon themselves to meet with the people on the Stirling St. site, to try and explain to them the reason this decision was made, and bring their minds back to the Unity and Peace that we started with, and that we all wish to retain. But again, it is not for any one of us to force our people’s minds into agreeing with anything. All that was stated is that this is where the Confederacy is, it is up to you as individuals to decide where it is you are standing. It took far greater strength for the Ratiskanreketeh to stand and watch as some of our people chose to cross over the line into the development area then the thinking that what was used to go against the Confederacy. And that is what happened. None of our people called in the police. When our people went against the agreement, the police took action on their own. And none of us liked what happened that day. They are still our people and they were doing what they thought best in protecting our land. The cheers from the Caledonia residents and the thumbs up from some of the police are clear indicators and evidence of the continued racism and years of historical misinformation and lack of education on the true history of the Haudenosaunee and our inherent rights to protect our land.

And finally, I have to give a three cheers for John Tory, PC Candidate. He was in Caledonia this past weekend campaigning and made statements such as that ‘if elected in Ontario’s election on October 10th, he would change provincial laws to
broaden the definition of trespassing and double existing fines for those who defy the order and illegally occupy land’. FINALLY, SOMEONE WHO AGREES WITH THE HAUDENOSAUNEE!!! Since we’ve already proven at the negotiation table that basically the whole town of Caledonia was never paid for, nor surrendered, every single one of the people living there are trespassing and illegally occupying our lands, and if John Tory is elected, I will personally make sure he honours his word. And another tid bit of information for you, I was recently told by a friend of mine who knew people who were looking to buy land around 30 years ago, it was common knowledge back then that the reason there was such a boom in Caledonia, was because the lands they were buying were being sold at very cheap rates because the lands in question belonged to the Six Nations. That explains a lot doesn’t it!
Bdeep, Bdeep, Bdeep, That’s all Folks!

In Love, Light and Peace,

Hazel

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