(Originally printed in The Brantford Expositor in 1959)
OTTAWA (CP) – A federal vote for the Indian without any strings attached was urged Tuesday before the joint Commons-Senate committee studying Indian affairs.
Edward P. Garlow, elected chief councillor of the Six Nations Council near Brantford, said Christopher Columbus found the Indian in North America when he arrived. Yet the Indian today had to waive treaty rights if he wanted to vote federally while immigrants could obtain a vote after a short time.
Chief Garlow said he refrained from voting provincially – as Indians are allowed to do in Ontario – because he was afraid he would jeopardize his standing as an Indian.
“I’d be tickled to death to vote federally,” he said amid committee applause. “We want to play our part.”
Raise Several Points
The voting question – Indians in the Yukon and Northwest Territories are allowed to vote without strings – was among a number raised by Chief Garlow and Councillor Fred Hill.
One concern voiced was that members of the Six Nations tribe who decide to leave the reservation become eligible for payment of a sum of money as their share of tribal monies held in trust.
But the fund would go broke if this kept up at the pace of $2,000 or $3,000 a year. One problem was that an Indian girl could leave the reservation, collect her money, marry a Six Nations Indian and become eligible for another slice of the fund.
They also complained that a CNR spur line is being built on their land without permission. Indian affairs officials said they will check this.
While Citizenship Minister Fairclough listened attentively, the two spokesmen also complained that the Indian Act fairly bristles with phrases indicating wide-scale powers are held by the minister.
“We know you wouldn’t do anything to us,” Councillor Hill said to Mrs. Fairclough with a big grin. “But we’re guarding against someone else who wouldn’t be as good as you are.”
Mrs. Fairclough said she thought it probably was a matter of legal terminology customary in statutes that is to blame.
The committee will hear different – perhaps opposite – aspects of Six Nations thinking today when delegates of the hereditary chiefs from here offer their opinions.
It will be the first open contact between the chiefs of the Six Nations Confederacy and federal authorities since the chiefs sparked open revolt and claimed the reservation as a separate country in March.
The revolt was put down by Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
While the confederacy modified its “separate country” argument in the dying moments of its uprising, it is not expected to claim much less.
Confederacy Secretary Arthur Anderson Sr. and Assistant Secretary William Smith are the delegates.