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Sago from Grand River: Dispatches from the Six Nations Land Reclamation Struggle

Hazel Hill
Date Published: 
June 01, 2007

Since February 28, 2006, members of the Six Nations Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy have been occupying the Douglas Creek Estates, a small parcel of land that provides one of the few “buffer zones” between the expanding suburban sprawl of the nearby settler town of Caledonia, Ontario and the remaining territories held by the Six Nations. Hazel Hill provides Left Turn with some notes from the front lines.

I am filled with such an unbelievable anger at the ignorance of this so-called country of Canada and the treatment of our people that I am left with an emptiness and numbness inside. They have no remorse because they continue with the same practices today. They would rather kill us than look at what they have done to the very people who welcomed them, fed them, and who supported their very existence since their arrival.

Why is it that they can’t see that the lands upon which they built their country, the resources that financed their empire, and the freedom that they enjoy today, was built on the backs of the Onkwehonweh, our ancestors. They call us criminals and terrorists and yet they forget that they are the descendents of people who were considered criminals and diseased and were sent to this continent because they were unwelcome in their own. They are afraid to look in the mirror because they cannot handle the truth of what is staring back at them.

Today, we sit at a table and we talk, we negotiate, about trivial things like the return of a bobcat, about the noise and lights that bother our Caledonia neighbors, about police buffer zones, and relationship building; and always, always it is about their needs and in the best interest of their people who are now occupying stolen lands. Since 1784 when the land was granted through the Haldimand in one hand, they stole it and gave it away from the other. Even the so-called Indian Agents at the time who were supposed to be looking out for the interests of the Six Nations, were looking out solely for the interests of the squatters and their compensation for improvements that they made to the land.

It is exactly the same policy they are working with today. Never mind the fact that we didn’t ask them to improve anything. We didn’t ask them to come and squat on our land, and honestly, we don’t give two squats on whether or not they’ve been compensated for it.

They don’t give two hoots about what they did to our people, the frauds they committed or the negligence and downright theft of the lands, our trust monies and our resources. It is and always will be what is best for them. Not once have they ever considered how their genocidal and assimilation practices have affected our people. Not once in their manipulative ways of fraudulently taking away our lands did they consider the effects that it would have on our environment, on our hunting and fishing and our respect and relationship with the land.

Stolen lands

Today they want us to consult our neighbors on how the land will be used and how it will affect them. Did they ever give consideration to our people when they stole our lands, built their towns and townships and left us boxed in on a little “reserve?” Did they ask us before they stripped the earth of our trees and polluted our rivers with their industrial waste? Do they ask us as they continually develop lands that they know they have no title to?

And yet they want us to consult with and work together with the people of Caledonia before we even plant a tree at Kanonhstaton. They want us to bring down the flags because some people don’t like the looks of them, or they find them offensive. I guess when they bring down all of their Canadian flags flying around our country, we may consider it.

I don’t know if they’ve learned anything or not over the past several decades. I know they hoped that by now we would have been good little Indians and succumbed to the ways of the white man because after all, they were the dominant and better race.

They had to save us from our heathenistic ways, even ordering fumigation of our community after any of our gatherings and ceremonies. They had to beat our children out of using our language because it was for our own good. Why, they even had to steal our children and place them in residential schools so their ministers could rape our young women and educate us to their ways to make us a better people. They had to use their guns and force to bring in their Indian Act because it would help us to govern ourselves in a way that was more appropriate and more civilized than the Kaienerekowah, the law given to us by the Creator. They had to save us from our spiritual practices because they were considered evil.

Today, that word is still being used by some when referring to our Confederacy Council and the Onkwehonweh. We are an evil people because we dare to resist colonialism and oppression. We dare to hold on to the original teachings and Law that supercedes any man made laws. We dare to uphold our obligation and responsibility that was given to us not only for our own good, but also for the good of all of Creation, including all of the other races of the world.

We are an evil people because we dare to resist the Indian Act and the imposition of foreign laws by our modern day Indian agents. If upholding and respecting the oldest and purest law of peace and light and love makes us evil, then I guess that is what we are.

These updates are for all of the Haudenosaunee who are spread across Turtle Island and cannot attend meetings or council to be updated. They are for the millions of Onkwehonweh across the world who are reading and watching and counting on the Haudenosaunee to uphold their responsibilities to Creation in order to help bring about Justice for all the Onkwehonweh. More importantly, my updates are for the Creator. To do what I believe is what is the highest good of all concerned.

Not leaving

The first thing that we need everyone to know and understand is that we have no intention on leaving the lands in question. We have no intention of abandoning our position, or walking away.

We understand how deeply the situation at Grand River affects all of our brothers and sisters in all Onkwhonweh Territories and will do nothing that will threaten the position of all. We appreciate and know that all of the Onkwehonweh Nations that are standing in solidarity and support with us have as much at stake as we do, and we want to assure you that we keep you in our prayers and thoughts as we counsel over the situation we are in.

We have stated to Canada, and the rest of the world who is watching, that should any harm come to our people and if Canada chooses to use war-like measures to continually get what they want, than we as Onkwehonweh People have no alternative but to meet them with that same mentality. They understand fully that our brothers and sisters are on watch and will come to our assistance if necessary. It is with Peace that we stand in solidarity, and it is with peace we will continue to participate in talks. We hope that Canada, and the crown’s representatives will do the same.
Manipulated media

Know that whatever and whenever we decide to make any kind of statement, or position, we will inform our people first, and we will also inform the world of the conditions that go along with those agreements. In any case, the conditions that we would expect will be clearly defined so that the whole world will know and understand if Canada/crown violates those conditions.

For example, if we choose to open a road or partially open a road, should anyone; police, army, citizens or anything interfere with the Peace we are trying to maintain, those roads would be immediately closed again, as would other territories and nations across the world do so in our support. This is the only way that Canada will understand that they cannot continue with their white paper policies with respect to the Onkwehonweh. They cannot continue with their genocidal plans.

They have manipulated and used the media to try and show that it is we who are violent. Now we will use their same tactics of media to ensure that they will be made to fulfill their agreements and be held accountable to all. It is no longer acceptable that they enter into agreements and treaties as their ancestors did all the while planning how to get out of them and how to avoid being honest and forthright in their dealings with the True People of the Land.

This morning I awoke to a beautiful sunrise and was reminded of why we are all here. When I think about where we stand, each of us, as very small dots in all of creation and I pray that each of us, will do our part, for what He has put us here to do. I can only ask for guidance for myself and cannot presume to do so for anyone else, but I pray each day for unity, peace light and love and the Truth, for the Onkwehonweh Nations of the World.

Hazel Hill is the Six Nations reclamation spokesperson.