…Mohawk Chiefs; it had been decided that the participants would have nothing to do with the seventh census of Canada.


Originally printed in The Globe, Toronto, Tuesday, June 23rd, 1931.




(Special Despatch to The Globe). BRANTFORD, JUNE 22ND.

A lengthy hearing today in the case of four Indians of the local reserve who refused to answer the census enumerators questions, ended with three of the Indians answering the questions before they left the station and the other one holding out in his contention that he did not have to answer the questions because he was not a British subject. Jacob Lewis, Township of Tuscarora, is the man sticking to his refusal. The others are Sandford Bomberry, Alexander Thomas and John Anderson.

1921 census

Percy Cayuga, enumerator for the reserve, was the first witness called by Corporal Delaney, R.M.C.P., under whose orders the four men were arrested. Cayuga stated that when he told Lewis he was an enumerator, Lewis, he declared, immediately stated that he was not a British subject and did not want anything to do with the census.


Counsel for the defense, cross-examining, asked :—

” Did he say anything about nationality ?” ” Yes.”

” Did he tell you he was not a British subject ? ” ” Yes.”

” What nationality did he say he was ? ” ” He only said he was not a British subject.” ” Did you ask him what nationality he was ?” “No.”

Witness stated he had made two calls on Lewis, the second time to see if he had changed his mind. He had not.

J. Elcome, R.C.M.P., testified that on June 5th, when he visited Lewis, in company with Cayuga, Lewis told him that at a meeting of the Mohawk Chiefs it had been decided that the participants would have nothing to do with the seventh census of Canada.

” Are you prepared to answer the questions now ? ” Magistrate Blake asked Lewis. ” No.”


” These people belong to the Six Nations Indians and they are a separate nationality within the British Empire. The Six Nations Indians obtained the land on which they live by the Haldimand act,” Mr. MacDonald told the court.

” You are raising the legal point that the reserve is outside of the Dominion of Canada,” Magistrate Blake asked Mr. MacDonald, and continued : ” We will just have to erect a tariff barrier, that’s all.”

Colonel C. E. Morgan, Superintendent of the Indian Department office here, intervened, saying that the Six Nations Indians were ruled by the department, and did not come under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Government. He also stated that the Indians were wards of the Crown.

” l am ruling against Mr. MacDonald, and taking it that the Six Nations Indians are part of Canada. I may be wrong, but if I am an appeal may be entered.” Magistrate Blake said.

Lewis was called. ” We call the reserve the Grand River land,” he stated, ” and the Haldimand treaty calls it that.” A photographic copy of the treaty was produced and disallowed as evidence, as it was not certified or proven. Lewis said he had seen the original treaty, and it was at present in Buffalo.

” You can get a proper copy from the Archives in Toronto,” Magistrate Blake said. 41


” I believe this man acted in all sincerity,” the Magistrate said, ” and he really believes he is not a subject of the British Empire and the Dominion of Canada.”

” He is a subject of the British Empire,” Mr. MacDonald said.

The Magistrate again asked the accused if he would answer the questions if given a chance, and he replied, ” No.”

” If that is the way you feel, it would be a good idea to get out of Canada,” counsel for the defence said.

Mr. MacDonald then brought into the case a passport owned by Lewis for entry into France, United States, Switzerland and other countries.

” Has Canada anything to do with this passport,” Mr. MacDonald said. ” No.”

” Has it the Canadian Government seal on it ? ” ” No. It has the seal of the Six Nations



” I have also to take in the Statistics Act,” Magistrate Blake said, ” and the purposes of the statistics are simply for residents of Canada. They (meaning the accused and the other three) are altogether too lordly to associate with Canadian citizens,” the Magistrate continued. ” But while they are in Canada they must abide by Canada’s laws. Even the King would not dare do otherwise.”

Defense counsel asked for an adjournment for a week. ” If these people’leave court without arriving at a decision,” Colonel Morgan said, ” the taking of the census at the reserve will be at a standstill. It is at a standstill now.”

The three, Anderson, Bomberry and Thomas, consented to answer questions. Lewis was remanded in custody for a week until additional evidence is obtained by the defence.