Comprehensive Objection to the Six Nations Band Council’s Claims and Actions
Dear Members of the Six Nations Band Council,
Minister Gary Anandasangaree for Crown–Indigenous relations
I write to express our continuing concerns and strong objections regarding the actions and claims of the Six Nations Band Council. It is with great concern and objection that I address the claims and actions of the Six Nations Band Council, which, in our view, undermine the historical and legal standing of the Mohawk people. This is especially pertinent as we approach the 100-year anniversary since the colonial imposition of the Band Council onto the Grand River, also known as the so-called Haldimand Tract.
Recent developments, including the Band Council’s entry into court proceedings with Canada regarding a trust fund account and accounting, have brought to light critical issues related to land jurisdiction and trust claims. However, we continue to assert that these claims and actions are deeply flawed and undermine the historical and legal standing of the Mohawk people.
Our comprehensive objections encompass the following points:
- Dissolution as Unilateral Foisting: In 1924, Canada revised the Indian Act to remove recognition of traditional governments, effectively claiming to have dissolved them. This unilateral action can be seen as akin to the earlier imposition of government structures onto our community, disregarding the principles of self-determination and sovereignty. These actions violate the pledge of faith by the Canadian Government to the Mohawk people of Grand River in 1791, wherein the Haldimand Proclamation was confirmed to uphold the honor of the Crown. In our view the Canadian democratic social structure became obligated to observe the Haldimand Proclamation as a duty imposed by law. Special consideration should be given to those who wilfully swear an oath of allegiance, noting their implied consent to observe the King of Canada, the Canadian democratic social structure, inclusive of the pledge of Faith to the Mohawks of Grand River, the Haldimand Proclamation and the Treaty of 1779. The premature assumption of jurisdiction and the unilateral imposition of the Band Council onto the Grand River Territory, without the full consent of the Mohawk people, remains a matter of grave concern. This action disregards the principles of self-determination and sovereignty.
- Representation of the Mohawk People: While the Band Council claims to be the legal government for the Six Nations, it is our firm belief that “Some of the Mohawks of the Villages of Canojaharie, Tikondarago, and Aughugo” whose descendants as “Mohawk Posterity” are legal beneficiaries to the Treaty of 1779, are not incorporated into the Band Council or the Dominion of Canada. We categorically reject any assertion of subject or so-called Indian status.
- Freedom from Compelled Association: We assert our freedom from compelled association with Canada and Canada’s band council system. While we understand that Six Nations is empowered by the Canadian government and operates under the Canadian Charter and the Indian Act as a creature of the federal government, we, the Mohawk people, who are not under the Charter or Indian Act, firmly assert our right to self-determination and the ability to make independent decisions about our governance and sovereignty. We further assert our right to our distinct nationality, as per article 15 of UDHR, and other similar customs and international norms of national integrity.
- Land Sovereignty: We steadfastly maintain that the land set apart for the exclusive use and enjoyment for Mohawk people remains sovereign territory. We challenge any claims that the land is held in trust and assert our rights to status quo ante bellum circa 1779.
- Historical Precedent: In the 1970s, the Supreme Court ruled that the land in question was sovereign territory and deemed the Band Council invalid while declaring the Indian Act inoperative. This decision reflected a recognition of the historical sovereignty of our people and the inapplicability of the Indian Act. However, the subsequent appeal, driven by the Six Nations Band Council, resulted in a reversal of this decision. This reversal hinged on the Band Council’s acknowledgment of the Simcoe Patent and their claim of money held in trust. This reasoning was used to assert that the land was held in trust, thereby justifying the application of the Indian Act and validating the Band Council. We maintain that this change in legal interpretation does not negate the inherent sovereignty of the Mohawk people and their right to self-determination. Rather, it reflects a controlled plunder of our ancestral lands and the erosion of our rights.
- Trust Fund Account and Conversion: The recent court proceedings regarding the trust fund account and accounting have again raised significant questions. The Band Council’s claim of a trust fund account, while acknowledging the illicit Simcoe Patent, brings to light the issue of conversion. We contend that the Band Council’s acceptance of the Simcoe Patent and the subsequent assertion of a trust fund were instrumental in a conversion of our sovereign land into a purported trust territory. Conversion, in this context, refers to the transformation of land that was originally recognized as sovereign territory into a trust territory under the control of external entities. This conversion, we believe, has been used to justify the application of the Indian Act and validate the Band Council’s authority, thus undermining our inherent sovereignty.
- Historical Recognition: It is important to note that Minister of the Interior Frank Oliver, as quoted in 1909 “The Six Nations Indians [Such Others] of the Grand River came to Canada under special treaty as allies of Britain, and the policy of the Canadian government is to deal with them having that fact always in view.” and later in 1914 “I admit that parliament has the power to interfere with the rights of Indians under treaty made with this government. But I say that this parliament has no right to interfere with a treaty made between the imperial government and the [”Some of the Mohawk…” c.1779] Six Nations Indians.” Frank Oliver, House of Commons.”, Minister Oliver held that the Haldimand Proclamation was valid and operational. Furthermore, in 1919, during a UK parliamentary debate, Canada sought clarification from the British Parliament regarding the operational status of the Haldimand Proclamation. UK Parliament responded to Canada by directing them to the 1909 acknowledgement by Minister Frank Oliver. Canada also inquired whether the land remained, as set apart, and whether the Six Nations and certain tribes as holding a separate legal footing, were amenable to certain Canadian legislation. No definitive answer was provided.
These historical events demonstrate the nuanced and evolving nature of the relationship between the Mohawk people and the Canadian government. They underscore our continued commitment to upholding the principles of the Haldimand Proclamation, the promises contained within the Treaty of 1779 and maintaining our sovereignty as a people.
Take special notice of the absence of the term Six Nations within the following text from the Treaty of 1779: “Some of the Mohawks of the Villages of Canojaharie, Tikondarago, and Aughugo, whose settlements than had been on account of their steady attachment to the King’s service and the interests of Government ruined by the rebels; having informed me that my predecessor, Sir. Guy Carleton, was pleased to promise, as soon as present troubles were at an end, the same should be restored at the expense of the Government, to the state they were in before these wars broke out, and said promise appearing to me just, I do hereby ratify the same and assure them the said promise, so far as in me lies, shall be faithfully executed, as soon as that happy time comes.”
Additionally, further special notice should be taken while reading the Haldimand Proclamation, where Six Nations has been included, it is our view Six Nations are named as stranger to the transaction by use of the term “Such Other.” Such Other or Stranger refers to a person who is not a party to a particular transaction. In Kirk v. Morris, 40 Ala. 225 (Ala. 1866), it was observed that the word “stranger” was substituted for the words “or some other person.” However, both were intended to mean the same thing, namely, a person not a party to the suit. Additionally, in a court of queen’s bench was of the opinion that no incorporation or body politic was formed by the use of the phrase, “Mohawk Nation and Such Other of the Five Nation Indians” Jackson v. Wilkes
We urge a reconsideration of these historical legal precedents in light of our continued commitment to upholding the principles of the Haldimand Proclamation, the Haldimand Treaty of 1779 and maintaining our sovereignty as a people.
We request an immediate and meaningful dialogue with the Six Nations Band Council and the responsible minister(s) to address these critical concerns, uphold justice, safeguard the perpetual rights and sovereignty of the Mohawk people as enshrined in the Haldimand Proclamation. As we approach the 100-year anniversary, we believe that through open and honest discussions, we can work towards a resolution that respects the historical and legal foundations upon which the Mohawk posterity are to enjoy forever.
We hope that this comprehensive objection letter serves as a catalyst for meaningful discussions and actions that uphold justice, sovereignty, and the principles of the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 and the Haldimand Treaty of 1779.
This objection is in accordance with our Draft Statement: A Diplomatic Address -Upholding Justice and Sovereignty.