Six Nations – Fall target for settling 1829 land claim

Negotiators in the Six Nations land claims disputes have set a target date of September to try to resolve an 1829 claim involving the flooding of native land by construction of the first Welland Canal.

Fall target for settling 1829 land claim

May 29, 2008
Daniel Nolan
http://www.thespec.com:80/News/Local/article/376706

The Hamilton Spectator
Caledonia (May 29, 2008)

Negotiators in the Six Nations land claims disputes have set a target date of September to try to resolve an 1829 claim involving the flooding of native land by construction of the first Welland Canal.

Ottawa, Queen’s Park and Six Nations representatives are also discussing converting the government’s $26 million for the Dunnville claim into trust funds; a $10-million fund to reacquire land Six Nations no longer controls in the Haldimand Tract; and a $16-million benefit fund that could be used to fund water, post-secondary education and language programs.

“I’m pleased to announce we are working on a September target date,” federal negotiator Ron Doering said yesterday at the end of the regular bimonthly talks. “I think we more or less have an understanding that’s our target.”

He said it was not related to Ontario Aboriginal Affairs Minister Michael Bryant’s call for a deadline in the talks, which passed into their third year earlier this month.

“This is not a deadline,” said Doering, who made the $26-million offer to resolve the claim in December. “This is a target … if we can so structure this settlement that the $26 million can be used to reacquire significant chunks of land and provide a range of benefits to the people in the community, hopefully, we can achieve our target.”

Six Nations negotiator Leroy Hill confirmed the September target, but said it was not set in stone. Still, he was supportive.

“Any time you are doing something, it’s good to have goals,” said the Cayuga subchief. “Hopefully, it’s achievable.”

He wouldn’t say it means Six Nations has accepted the $26-million offer, but said it went some way to satisfying their mandate that a settlement must have a land component. Six Nations once controlled 10 kilometres on each side of the Grand River under a 1784 grant from the British Crown, but it now involves five per cent of that. It has more than two dozen land claims with Ottawa. It submitted documents this spring saying it could be owed as much as $1.1 billion for the flooding of 1,000 hectares along the Grand River in 1829. The Welland Canal Co. promised compensation to Six Nations in 1824, but never delivered.

Doering was also confident the target can be met. Asked what would happen if it isn’t, he said, “That’s a question that is not helpful.”

The hope is a deal can be used as a blueprint to resolve Six Nations’ other claims. The negotiating table began in May 2006 to try to resolve the native occupation of a Caledonia housing site in February 2006. That remains off the table. Ottawa says the land was surrendered in the 1840s. Six Nations says it was not.

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