Ottawa, Six Nations outline positions

Posted by admin on Jan 29th, 2007

Ottawa, Six Nations outline positions By Marissa Nelson, Hamilton Spectator

There appears to be little agreement between the two sides on whether the former Douglas Creek Estates land was rightfully surrendered by Six Nations or not. The federal government has staked out its legal position in talks that are supposed to resolve the standoff in Caledonia. This week, lawyers for the federal government presented the Six Nations negotiators with a 13-page report that takes issue with a similar native report made in November. The federal report argues that if the case was brought to court, the surrender of what was called the Plank Road lands would be upheld. But it also stresses that negotiators must find a resolution to the outstanding land and money grievances. The next meeting of the main table is Feb. 8. Six Nations’ delegates are meeting today to discuss the report. Below is a point-by-point synopsis of the two sides of the debate, as depicted in the report.

1. Canada

Talks in late 1844 included discussion about which lands should be reserved and which ones near Brantford should be leased. The leasing of Plank Road lands was never a subject of negotiations. There is strong evidence to suggest Six Nations leaders understood the differences between leasing and selling land.

Six Nations

The transactions related to the Plank Road Lands were meant to be leases, not sales.

2. Canada

Meetings between the Crown and Six Nations, internal deliberations among Six Nations people and written records of talks in 1844 is evidence Six Nations meant to surrender the Plank Road Lands. The Chiefs in Council confirmed in 1844 they surrendered the Plank Road Lands including what became Douglas Creek Estates.

Six Nations

Some Six Nations people may have dealt with the Crown in ways not accepted by the broader community and without the proper and full authorization of the Haudenosaunee/Six Nations leadership.

3. Canada

The transfer of the Plank Road lands to the Crown for sale to third parties was carried out in accordance with the principles of the day.

Six Nations

Joseph Brant intended to lease the lands so they could be cleared. The clearing of the land would open the way for Six Nations people to use the land for farming. Six Nations people were having a tough time protecting land from squatters. The desire to stop the squatting reflects their strong desire to protect their land, contradicting any assertion they wanted to sell it.

4. Canada

The surrender was taken in accordance with the protocols developed in the previous century for dealings between the Crown and the Haudenosaunee.

Six Nations

Six Nations leadership didn’t have the authority to give up the lands and the written documents suggesting a surrender were done in English, not in the languages of the Six Nations, so it may not accurately reflect their wishes.

5. Canada

According to Canadian law, valid surrenders are not voided by subsequent errors in their implementation. If money was owed or mismanaged, the First Nation may have a cause of action for money damages.

Six Nations

Even if the land was surrendered, the Six Nations people were never compensated for it.

6. Canada

Surrenders were not done in the same way across the country nor were they required to be uniform in their design and content. There is no requirement for one surrender document and the absence of one doesn’t undermine the validity of the surrender.

Six Nations

There is no surrender document for the Hamilton/Port Dover Plank Road Lands. At the Dec. 13 and 18, 1844 meetings, no formal surrender for sale was signed by Six Nations that would meet the requirements governing the process.

7. Canada

The report does not express views about Grand River Navigation Company, only the surrender of the Plank Road Lands. Even if the Crown did systematically induce the sale of Six Nations lands, it would not invalidate the surrender.

Six Nations

The Crown was systematically inducing the sale of Six Nations lands and directing payments into the Grand River Navigation Company and other Crown expenditures despite protests from the Six Nations people. The government wanted the land to sell it and raise money for this company. The government of the day imposed their leadership for the guidance of the Six Nations’ investment in this company.

8. Canada

The Crown did try to remove squatters from Six Nations lands. The Six Nations admitted they were in part responsible for the problem of squatters since chiefs continued to make illegal sales and leases for bits of the land.

Six Nations

The Crown breached its responsibility to protect Six Nations lands from trespassers and instead protected non-natives who were breaking the law.

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