Letter - I'm with the mayor on this one

The Regional

December 22, 2009

The December 2nd "Turtle Island News" ran a piece titled "Haldimand County Mayor's suggestions draw ire from Six Nations." During a meeting in Ottawa with Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, the mayor apparently stated that reserves should be abolished and the Indians paid off. The responses from Six Nations officials are worthy of comment.

Mohawk Chief Allen MacNaughton said Trainer is turning Caledonia into an economic desert. "It is that kind of attitude from the county's leadership that is causing the economic woes of Caledonia."

The economic woes of Caledonia stem from the following:

1. The absence of six hundred households on DCE. Credit for that goes to the provincial government, the OPP and the Indians.

2. Reluctance on the part of developers, both residential and commercial to risk costly projects out of the fear of interference. Credit for that goes to the provincial government, the OPP and the Indians.

3. Businesses on the reserve that illegally sell goods tax-free to non-Indians. Credit for that goes mainly to the Indians and their non-Indian customers.

You can't pin any of that on the mayor.

Note: If a reserve resident opened a LEGAL business in Caledonia, I would have no objection to shopping there. I won't spend a dime on the reserve if I can buy it elsewhere. I'll support the businesses that pay into the tax base. Economically, the reserve is a black hole.

Elected Chief Bill Montour said abolishing reserves and giving native people money is "the most ludicrous statement (he) ever heard. We don't want money. We want perpetual care and maintenance. We have to have our kids educated, we have to have the health of our people taken care of, we have to have social recreation."

I realize that statistics can be misleading. A person can manipulate them to support their point of view. Yet I have never seen an example of someone using statistics to support the concept of reserves. That's because every stat you can find indicates that reserve residents are worse off than people who leave the reserve. I'm with the Mayor on that one.

I don't support the idea of a weekly money-for-nothing cheque. Land claims settlements should be divided equally among registered Indians. It's not a perfect solution. It's still money-for-nothing. Today's Indians didn't lose anything. Also, since this whole deal is race-based, the race of the recipient should be determined. I doubt that it's possible to do that accurately. Since the money pot would be a fixed amount, a full-blood Indian would have a legitimate grievance if a half-blood received as much. Racism is an ugly business. Still, in the interest of settling things this millennium, some compromises will have to be made. Then we can all get on with our lives.

Besides, if the reserve was surveyed and became deeded land, each family could receive a parcel of land. They would own it. That would give them equity which equals borrowing power. That alone would give them a leg up on most of us. Even without any money-for-nothing, Mr. Montour's wish-list could become the responsibility of the individual instead of the big, bad government. The Indians would benefit immensely. (Read Mr. Montour's list again. It all costs money, lots of money. The message seems to be: "We can't / don't want to / shouldn't have to do any of this for ourselves." Anyone with genuine concern for the Indians recognizes that message as the root of all their problems).

HDE spokesperson Hazel Hill made this contribution: "They need to look at their own history, because a lot of how they got the land that they're currently residing on was done through violence, through force, through murder, rape and theft. That's the legacy of how they got it, and they continue with that legacy because it's all they know how to do...

There are two possibilities:

1. Ms. Hill is a self-appointed spokesperson.

2. The credible speakers were all spoken for.

Doug Fleming

Caledonia