By Garry Horsnell
According to a 2003 Indian Claims Commission report about the Mississauga of the New Credit, the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois gave control of the land in southern Ontario to the Mississauga and other Ojibwa Indians at a meeting in Onondaga New York in June 1700.
Source: Indian Claims Commission, 2003. Mississaugas of the New Credit, First Nation Inquiry, Toronto Purchase Claim, page 9.
After the American Revolution ended in 1783 and to provide land for British loyalists and to fulfil the Crown’s promise to provide land for Joseph Brant and Six Nations people, Quebec Governor Haldimand arranged to buy a huge tract of land in what is now southwestern Ontario, including land along the Grand River, from the Ojibwa Mississauga Indians because the Five (later Six) Nations Iroquois had given control of that land to the Mississauga Indians in June 1700.
The Mississauga Indians agreed and they sold and ceded that land to the Crown at a meeting at Fort Niagara on May 22, 1784.
Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, Six Nations Indian chiefs, Delaware Indian chiefs and Mississauga Indian chiefs were all at the meeting and they all agreed with the sale of that land to the Crown so that land, including the land along the Grand River, would become the Crown’s land on May 22, 1784.
Source: Indian Treaties and Surrenders, 1891 (reprinted 1996) Queens Printer, Volume 1, item number 3, page 5.
Governor Haldimand later issued an announcement on October 25, 1784 inviting “Mohawks and others of the Six Nations” to enter, occupy and use the Crown’s land along the Grand River.
There is a photograph of the original hand written October 25, 1784 Haldimand announcement between pages 34 and 35 of the book titled “History of the County of Brant” by F. Douglas Reville.
Only Haldimand and his secretary Mathews signed Haldimand’s announcement. No Six Nations person signed it. It wasn’t a proclamation or a treaty or a deed to the land along the Grand River.
Source: Reville, F. Douglas, 1920: History of the County of Brant, Hurley Printing Company Ltd.
In fact, in the 1835 Jackson v. Wilkes court case, a King’s Bench justice said that, because the October 25, 1784 Haldimand announcement did not have the Great Seal, Haldimand’s document was a mere “license of occupation”.
Source: Jackson v. Wilkes, 1835; Upper Canada King’s Bench, (O.S. 142).
In other words, it was a license for Six Nations people to occupy and use, not own, the Crown’s land along the Grand River.
In 1793, Governor Simcoe offered the Six Nations of the Grand River a letter patent, a deed, to land along the Grand River with a condition the Indians could only dispose of land to the Crown.
For Governor Simcoe to have offered a deed for land along the Grand River, that land must have been the Crown’s land in 1793 but Mohawk leader Joseph Brant and the Six Nations chiefs did not like the conditions in the Simcoe Patent and would not accept the Simcoe Patent (deed).
In fact, in an address to William Claus from Indian Affairs on November 24, 1796, Joseph Brant said “of this deed we could not accept” so the land along the Grand River remained the Crown’s land.
Source: Johnston, C.M., 1964: The Valley of the Six Nations, Champlain Society, Publications, Printed Publications page 82
So the Six Nations people gave up control of the land in southern Ontario and along the Grand River as early as 1700 and did not get ownership of the land along the Grand River after the Crown bought that land from the Ojibwa Mississauga Indians on May 22, 1784.
So how can Six Nations people claim they own the land now?
By the way, when the Crown owns land, it always retains underlying title to its land whether the Crown allows people to occupy and use the land, whether it leases the land or whether it provides a patent (a deed) to some of its land.
So when Six Nations people live on or enter the Crown’s land, they are subject to the laws, rules and regulations of the Crown.
Correct me if I’m wrong but I think it’s illegal for Six Nations native activists to enter, occupy and take over property that belongs to someone else. I guess the OPP will have to go back in and arrest and remove the Six Nations activists.
I wonder what the Ford Ontario Conservative government will do about the situation?
The Six Nations of the Grand River don’t have a treaty to get money from our governments. There was nothing about money for the Six Nations in the October 25, 1784 Haldimand document.
Nevertheless, the Ontario government sends money to the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve every year. In 2019, it sent $51,418,452.
Maybe the Ontario government should take some or all of that money and use it to compensate the developers and people adversely affected by the Six Nations land occupations and road blockades and to clean up and repair the roads that have been blocked.