Letter - Nanfan a "con"

The Regional

December 16, 2009

Re letter - Racism allowed under Charter (freedom of the press) Dec 2, 2009"

I find it interesting that when the subject of treaties is brought up by members of Six Nations, they always seem to cherry pick the sections that make their point. This last example is no exception.

The Nanfan treaty of 1701 has been in the news lately in Hamilton because hunters from Six Nations cited that treaty as a justification for them to hunt on conservation land. Nanfan does indeed contain a section allowing "free hunting for us and the heires and descendants from us the Five nations for ever" but it also surrenders the land, "for us our heires and successors absolutely surrender, deliver up and for ever quit claime unto our great Lord and Master the King of England".

Many in Six Nations have no trouble remembering the bits about hunting rights but conveniently forget that the main part of the treaty "absolutely surrenders" all of it to the British even though all of the land in Haldimand county was not, in any way, under Iroquois Confederacy control at the time the Nanfan treaty was signed and that fact is also acknowledged in the treaty itself.

"Nanfan" was, quite simply, a con. by 1701 the original inhabitants of the land in this area that had been driven out in the mid 1600's to create a Confederacy hunting reserve had by 1701 re-established themselves in the area with French assistance and the Iroquois Confederacy were unable to defeat them by force. This is also admitted in Nanfan. Signing over land they no longer had any control over was quite a diplomatic coup that the British accepted as it technically, but fraudulently, gave them a "deed" to a large chunk of what was then French Canada.

After the Haldimand Proclamation 83 years later we find that Joseph Brant treated this land as if it were sovereign territory to do with as he pleased but the Crown, from the very beginning, did not support that position. Given the surrender in Nanfan it's the Crown's position and the fact that it was the British crown that "granted" the land to Brant and his followers in the first place, that has legitimacy not the position of Joseph Brant. Brant's erroneous claim has been repeated by generations of Confederacy supporters but that doesn't make it correct then or now.

The land surrenders that occurred during the 1830's are generally dismissed by six Nations supporters or say, as is in the case of this latest writer, that all the Federal or Provincial governments need to do is provide proof that the land was surrendered, but the simple fact remains it was in the 1840's that the current reserve's boundaries were finalized and that provides all the proof that is needed. An Order in Council in 1843 affirmed the surrender but a delegation of chiefs appealed to the government to grant an additional 35,000 acres. This was granted and in 1847 the reserve was formally granted at approximately 55,000 acres, but subsequent surrenders reduced the size of the reserve to 44,900 acres.

What happened to the compensation that was to be paid is another issue and should be the only point being negotiated and not the return of any land to Six Nations control. Samuel Jarvis, in January 1841, suggested the Iroquois voluntarily surrender the lands outside of the main settlement area in Brantford so that the Crown could administer the Haldimand Tract "for their exclusive benefit and interest." Again, all this ignores the Nanfan surrender but that is what led to creation of what is, for all intents and purposes, the existing Reserve boundaries so it's just a bit disingenuous for anyone in Six Nations to suggest the land surrenders never occurred.

One reason all these "land claims" have been stalled in the past is Six Nations initiated a lawsuit that "calls for an accounting for all the lands and moneys they had, or ought to have had, from 1784 to date". I would suggest that while the "accounting for all the lands and moneys" is being done, every single penny of Provincial and Federal money that has made its way onto the Reserve for any reason whatsoever during that time period should be tallied up as well. I think it's important that everyone, no matter where they stand on the issue, has all that information.

Donald R. Goodbrand