MEDIA RELEASE - The Six Nations Rotianehson
CKRZ NEWS 09 SEPT 08
Media Release :
For Immediate Release September 8, 2008
Confederacy says no to $26 million offer, but opens door to resolving land rights negotiations
GRAND RIVER TERRITORY OF THE SIX NATIONS- The Six Nations Rotianehson (Confederacy Council) have been working for more than two years to find a peaceful resolution to Six Nations Haudenosaunee outstanding land rights in respect of the territory laid out in the Haldimand Proclamation.
That resolution is not a simple matter of settling a grievance, or seeking monetary compensation, said Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton, lead negotiator for Haudenosaunee Six Nations (H.S.N.). “It involves a process, a treaty relationship, the impacts of the breach of that relationship, and finally, rebuilding,” he said.
The H.S.N. have been engaged in land rights discussions with the Crown that have included the flooding of 2500 acres of H.S.N. land by the Crown in 1829. Flooding that occurred in spite of protests by the H.S.N. and without their consent, and left the H.S.N .unable to use those lands for the last 179 years.
On December 12, 2007 the Crown offered $26 million H.S.N. in compensation for that flooding .
The Welland Canal flooding negotiations have centred not just on compensation, H.S.N. lead negotiator Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton explains, but on the breach of the treaty relationship between the H.S.N. and the Crown, and how the impact of that breach, attempts to diminish the nature of our relationship with the Crown, and the wrongful action committed, by reducing it to a simple grievance.
“We are not dealing with grievances. We are dealing with the rights of the Haudenosaunee Six Nations which exist, in part, by the way of sacred agreements entered into between the Crown and the Haudenosaunee Six Nations,” he said.
Chief MacNaughton said the wrongful taking of “our lands has diminished our ability to relate to the land as we have been instructed. It does not address the depth and breadth of how important the land is to us, it is our mother.”
Chief MacNaughton said, the flooding of H.S.N. lands has, as well, prevented the H.S.N. from deriving any financial benefit from the land. “We have not been able to hunt on the land, farm it, gather medicines or simply have it available to us for our use, as we see fit.” He said the H.S.N. may wish to undertake a comprehensive review of “our loss of this land from our perspective.”
Chief MacNaughton said the Crown has attempted to characterize its wrongful acts as merely failing to provide compensation for the flooding of the Welland Canal lands, when in fact what is apparent is the Crown’s belief that it had the ability to flood lands without our permission or consent,” he said.
Chief MacNaughton said there have been stumbling blocks placed in the way to reaching a fair settlement on the flooded lands. That includes the Crown’s refusal to provide particulars on how they calculated their settlement offer of $26 million.
“It appeared to us that, that number was picked at random,” said Chief MacNaughton. As a result the H.S.N. have been forced to seek out an expert opinion.
University of Toronto Professor Arthur Hosios, chair of the Department of Economics, provided the model to H.S.N.. Prof., Hosios, has been accepted as an expert on valuing historic losses by Canadian courts, and in fact, was retained by the Crown to give expert evidence, most recently in the Whitefish Lake matter.
Professor Hosios’ report highlights the speaking notes of Senior Federal Negotiator Ron Doering on Dec., 12, 2007, and he notes that;
“The Senior Federal Negotiator states that interest “may be applied to the whole or to part of a principle amount,” but without explanation. He or she seems to be relying on the notion that “we can never know what actual benefits would have been realized on a sum of money...Money can be saved, it can be spent; it may be invested wisely, or conservatively; it may be invested poorly, or not at all...we (should) consider a whole range of realistic contingencies in arriving at a fair and proportionate amount...”
This argument, Prof., Hosios says, “ has been put forward to reduce H.S.N., compensation and is, from an economic perspective, basically incorrect.”
The Crown, Chief MacNaughton says has never provided any evidence based on expert economic opinion on how it arrived at its $26 million offer.
Chief MacNaughton says he must take time to correct several inaccurate statements that have been put forward by the Crown in respect of the proposal tabled by the H.S.N.. The H.S.N. proposal did not state that farmland was to be acquired, but that the Crown was to provide the H.S.N. with land. The land would be chosen by the H.S.N. and paid for by the Crown.
Chief MacNaughton said the Six Nations community has made it clear through 14 recent community consultation sessions that they want land returned. It was a clear priority, he said.
The consultations were held to educate the community on the Welland Canal $26 million offer. The consultations also found Six Nations people deeply concerned with the erosion of their treaty rights and relationship with the Crown, want to see development stopped and consultation held with Six Nations.
Chief MacNaughton said while financial compensation could be provided to the H.S.N. by the Crown for loss of use of the flooded lands, but, he said, “as we have indicated on a number of occasions, the H.S.N. is not prepared to surrender, extinguish or otherwise relinquish rights, title or interests in land.”
In light of this position, Chief MacNaughton announced the Haudenosaunee Six Nations “must reject your offer and are prepared to go forward with these negotiations based on the Haudenosaunee Six Nations Counter Proposal to Canada’s Welland Canal offer.”
Chief MacNaughton said the Haudenosaunee Six Nations know that the lands flooded by the Welland Canal construction have been valued in the range of approximately $500 MILLION to $1 BILLION.
However, because H.S.N. are committed to a treaty relationship which requires the H.S.N. to assist the other party, “we are prepared to go forward with negotiating focused on land, and negotiations involving financial compensation for our perpetual care and maintenance in the amount of $500 million for the historic loss of use of the lands flooded by the Welland Canal.
Chief MacNaughton stressed this proposal ‘represents a significant compromise on the part of the H.S.N. considering that we have been provided with no evidence grounded by any economic opinion on why a different compensation approach should be undertaken.”
He said payment for the Crown’s future use of H.S.N. lands must also be addressed. H.S.N. who have lost use of the land for traditional uses including hunting, fishing, trapping, farming gathering of medicines and other resources will be seeking an annual payment for the future and ongoing loss of use of H.S.N. flooded lands. These payments, he said will require structured negotiations.
Speaking on future negotiations, Chief MacNaughton said one of the difficulties with the process to date has been the Crown putting forward positions that it states are fair and reasonable.
“We cannot accept the proposition that the Crown can illegally take land, and then state with any moral or legal authority that a particular compensation model is fair and/or reasonable. While the negotiating process and a party’s ability to take a hard stand must be respected, we believe that any approach which allows one party to dictate to another party what is fair and reasonable is fundamentally unreasonable.”
In an effort to resolve this issue, Confederacy chiefs also agreed in council Saturday (September 6, 2008) , that in consideration of difficulties in reaching a negotiated settlement, and in consideration of pressing concerns of the H.S.N. and Canadians that a just and lasting reconciliation be achieved, we believe it is reasonable to move forward based on the following
(i) Canada and Ontario will by separate legislation commit to an ongoing tripartite Haudenosaunee Six Nations process to resolve the many land and financial issues. Such legislation will respect and adhere to the principles and legal relationships set out in the Two Row Wampum Treaty and the Silver Covenant Chain of Friendship;
(ii) Negotiations will not be governed by any current or future policy, regulations or law applying to “Indians” including but not limited to Federal or Provincial legislations relating to “Specific or Comprehensive Claims.”
(iii) “Certainty” in achieving terms of settlements will be obtained without compelling the extinguishment, surrender or release of Haudenosaunee Six Nations rights or interests to any of our lands;
(iv) The unrestricted use of land by the H.S.N. will govern the return and replacement of lands;
(v) Where financial compensation is to be considered as part of any settlement, such forms of financial compensation will be restricted to the “perpetual care and maintenance” of the H.S.N., as solely determined by the H.S.N. and will not include per capital distributions
(vi) The Crown(s) will likewise not use any settlement compensation to relieve the Crown(s) of its ongoing funding programs and grants presently being provided to the H.S.N. now or in the future:
(vii) H.S.N., the Crown in Right of Canada and the Crown in Right of Ontario, shall commit in principal to an independent binding arbitration process should an impasse hamper the progress of negotiations; and
(viii) The outcome of any negotiated or arbitrated settlement in relation to the Crown’s historic and ongoing breaches of the treaty relationship shall not be limited to one time lump sum payments and for greater clarity may include the return of land to the H.S.N..
The H.S.N. expect to return to the negotiating table this week. A date for talks to resume has been scheduled for September 10, 2008, but federal negotiators have indicated they may not be prepared.
The Six Nations Haudenoniso (Confederacy Council) believe these principles and just settlement, begins a process that will lead to a peaceful, fair resolution of its more than 200 year old land rights issues throughout Southern Ontario.
Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton
H.S.N. lead negotiator
For further information, interviews or comments contact:
Media Liaison Lynda Powless