What’s going on at Six Nations?
The history behind the land theft
- The Six Nations reservation (located to the south east of Brantford) is part of the Haldimand Tract, which is a 950,000 acre parcel of land 10km deep on either side of the Grand River that was legally awarded to the Haudenosaunee people in 1784 as compensation for their alliance with British forces during the American Revolution.
- Since 1784 over 95% of this land has been sold off without consent of the Haudenosaunee people, in private deals between development companies and the provincial government, leaving the people of Six Nations today with merely 46,000 acres of reserve land, less than 5% of the land they are entitled to. The Haudenosaunee people are currently owed billions of dollars in unpaid leases for the settler-occupied land of the Haldimond tract.
- In 1876 The Canadian government instituted the Indian Act which, among many legalized injustices, enforced the development of band councils.
- The band council is an elected government that serves as a branch of the Canadian federal government on reserves. Band councils were intentionally instated in order to undermine the traditional governance structures of the Haudenosaunee confederacy, and work in the interests of the Canadian federal government, which frequently contradict the interests of Indigenous communities.
- Because the band council does not represent the interests of the Six Nations people, most of the population of the reserve refuses to participate in the elections. The current Six Nations band council had only 4% voter turnout in their last election.
What is 1492 Landback Lane?
- The Six Nations band council made an agreement with Foxgate development to sell the parcel of land that has come to be known as 1492 Landback Lane near Caledonia, Ont., and did so without consultation or consent from the community. While 6 performative consultation events were held. only 90 of the 27,000 people of Six Nations attended. These consultations were held for the purpose of essentially “saying they did”, rather than to actually gain the informed consent of the community for this development project.
- Foxgate Development, when purchasing this land, knew that they would likely not have the consent of the community to build this housing development and wrote clauses into their contract which stated that if they could not complete the project due to protest, it would be at the expense of the Six Nations reserve.
- Since July 19, 2020 Six Nations land defenders have been occupying this plot of land to prevent it from being developed. On August 5, 2020, police raided the camp arresting nine people, and shot rubber bullets and tased several unarmed people. In the brief time that the land was unoccupied, the lot was clear-cut and all of the topsoil removed.
- The occupation was quickly re-established and Haudenosaunee land defenders have begun construction of a cooking house. In the 8 months since it has been established, 1492 Landback Lane has become a community hub where people hold potlucks, musical performances, movie screenings, dances and community games of lacrosse. There is a small community garden, several fire pits, and food and water for all who are there.
- In September, Karl Dockstader, a member of the Oneida Nation and reporter with One Dish One Mic, was arrested for his journalistic roll in reporting on the site. Several more journalists have since been arrested and charged for attending the site for the purposes of reporting on it. Currently anyone who sets foot on the site risks criminal charges of mischief and violating a court injunction, and many land defenders and their allies have been charged for occupying and defending this land that is rightfully theirs. OPP are tracking the license plates of anyone who enters the site in an attempt to cut off supply lines of food and water.
- Six Nations land defenders have put out calls for material support in terms of supplies that can be delivered to an off-site location in Six Nations, financial support, and for settler allies to engage in solidarity demonstrations to raise awareness of this injustice.
Some more facts about land theft and environmental racism:
- Currently only 0.35% of Canada’s land mass is owned by Indigenous people, and yet their remaining land is constantly infringed upon by provincial and federal governments and development companies, often intentionally routing developments through reserve land, rather than build on or near settler communities.
- This contributes massively to environmental racism, many reservations in Ontario including sections of Six Nations being without drinkable water, and reservations frequently being subjected to massive amounts of industrial pollution that has been intentionally directed towards their communities.
- Approximately 40% of Canada’s chemical industry is situated around Aamjiwnaang first nation who have experienced severe pervasive illness and birth defects in their community as a result. The decades of industrial mercury poisoning in Grassy Narrows first nation is another example of this, as well as the fact that the Trans-Canada pipeline, which has produced several massive oil spills, was specifically re-routed through unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in BC to avoid affecting settler communities. These are just a few examples.
A note on names and pronunciations:
- The term “settler” refers to anyone living in Turtle Island (North America) Who is not Indigenous or Black.
- Haudenosaunee is a confederacy made up of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations.
- Haudenosaunee is pronounced “HO-de-NO-SHO-nay”
- Oneida is pronounced “oh-NIGH-duh”
- Onondaga is pronounced “oh-non-DAW-gah”
- Cayuga is pronounced “kay-YOU-gah”
- Seneca is pronounced “SEN-eh-CAH”
- Tuscarora is pronounced “TUSK-ah-ROR-ah”
- Aamjiwnaang is pronounced “OM-ji-NONG”
- Wet’suwet’en is pronounced “wet-SO-wet-en”
Muskoka Power of Many
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