BLAST FROM THE PAST

Originally Published in March 1959 By PAUL KIDD, Spectator Staff Writer

The 6,000 Indians who have their homes in the Grand River Country are sitting on a volcano.

And it is one that could explode without warning.

Behind what some outsiders regard as the incredible happenings of the last two days on the Six Nations Reserve, 25 miles from Hamilton, a dangerous situation is smouldering.

This is recognized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who are waiting for “a tribal showdown” at any time between the elective and hereditary councils.

It could, said Inspector H.C. Forbes, result in mob violence.

“IT’S OUR JOB to see that this doesn’t happen,” declared the officer commanding the London subdivision, who has moved on to the reservation to take personal charge of the Ohsweken detachment.

If and when such a fracas did come, armed Mounties would probably have to act as “referees”.

So far it has been a bloodless revolution. Some 1,000 supporters of the Confederacy, ignoring RCMP warnings that they were breaking the law, tore down the doors of the council house and reinstalled the hereditary chiefs in power.

BUT the elected councillors, who slipped out of a back door 10 minutes before the building was broken into, have the support of hundreds of Indians who favor the democratic system of internal government introduced in 1924.

This faction has so far voiced no protest. To the Mounties, it is an ominous silence.

It is believed that the elective system’s supporters – of which there are at least 700 – may soon hold a mass meeting to indicate their rejection of the hereditary council.

If the two groups clashed, it is hard to predict what would happen, observers say.

IN THE MEANTIME, the RCMP will continue to recognize the elected council as the legal governing body on the reservation.

But the Confederacy has proclaimed itself the territory’s “only government.”

For the hereditary chiefs are seriously applying every word of their proclamation of independence, which outlawed the RCMP as the law enforcement agency at Ohsweken.

Supported by at least 1,000 men, women and children – and maybe more – the Confederacy is showing disregard for Canada and its laws.

“If one of our people should break the law, we will arrest and try him,” said 26-year-old Irvin Logan, who has been named “Chief of the Iroquois Police.”

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