The article originally appeared in the Ottawa Citizen in 1951.
A three-man delegation from the Six Nation Indian reservation near Brantford warned here yesterday that the passage of the Indian Act in its present revised form would threaten the Indian people with extinction In two years.
They said If the act became law, the Indians across Canada would become “bitter enemies” of the present federal government. The delegation centred Its fire on the compulsory enfranchisement clause of the act.
Under this clause, a government-appointed committee may enfranchise an Indian whether or not he has applied for such enfranchisement.
Once he Is given the vote, the Indian loses special reservation rights such as free schooling, free hospitalization and exemption from taxes.
The delegation objected to Section 4 of the Act giving the minister, in this case, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Walter Harris, unlimited powers with no recourse of appeal.
Criticism was also voiced to the provision under which an Indian who asks for the vote must sign a waiver eliminating his exemption from taxation.
Members of the delegations, who saw Mr. Harris, were: E. P. Garlow, chief councillor of the Six Nation Indian Council; A. C. Moses, council secretary; and James Powless, councillor.
April 27, 1928-Originally printed in Press and Sun-Bulletin.
The Senate committee Investigating Indian affairs with the Idea of reorganizing the Indian Bureau is giving attention to the plan under consideration for several years by the Iroquois, or Six Nations, reviving the ancient tribal confederacy to meet modern conditions, says the Buffalo News.
It may be that the plan, in some measure, will be applied to the Indians who are wards of the government. However, the Iroquois are not under Federal control.
Ths plan of the Iroquois is to create a fund of 1,000,000 million dollars to develop Industries and establish schools, and eventually a university. The sponsors of the project intend to begin the ambitious undertaking at Onondaga, N. Y., where a model village will be set up.
There are today some 15.000 members of the Six Nations Senecas, Oneidas. Mohawks, Onondaga, Cayugas and Tuscaroras, about 6,000 are In New York, state and the remainder in Canada.
In the days before and during the American Revolution, the Iroquois were efficiently self-governing. The “Long House” was their seat of government. The possibility that their old spirit and fundamental solidarity may be applied Industrially, educationally and otherwise to raise them again to the high estate is engaging.
They have the right within limits that do not conflict with the order the white men have established in this land. The ‘ Indian bureau should be taken out of politics. There are black spots on this country’s record with regard to the red men, attributable to the political management of Indian affairs.
Most of the Indians now are citizens. They should be placed in a position to help themselves to stand on their own feet.
I was here in 1957, age 6 yrs old; my family and I came as orphans. Life in a residential school was cruel and traumatizing.
Where everyone is sitting today, this is the girl’s play area; we were confined to the border of trees. On the other side of those trees was the orchard.
As much as we played every year, you know you could walk around and play and smell those apples, but you were never allowed to go outside of those boundaries. There was no fence that I can remember. Still, I knew enough that if I were to step into that orchard and take one apple, even if it was an apple, a windfall on the ground, you were punished.
I knew that, but there was just this one really tempting time. It was probably in the fall, which I think because when I walked around, I could just smell the apples. It was so sweet, and I love apples, and it was a temptation.
I was by myself and what I did was, there was this big tree over here. I laid down next to this big tree, and I laid down because I didn’t want to get caught. So I peeked around the tree, looking up onto the veranda up here because that’s where the staff would sit to make sure we would behave ourselves and not cross the line and go into the orchard.
And if you did take an apple, you were a thief and a thief; you were punished, even though it was on the ground. When you look back on it, how that can be such a cruel thing to do to children. When they were hungry, there was a lot of hunger here. Kids had to fend for themselves here, and if that meant going to the dump to get food, then whatever. I’ve heard many stories from these guys, especially from the men, about how they went off and got food and How they supplemented their diet.
Still, there was just this overwhelming sense that it was the sweetness that was just so tempting, and so as I was laying behind this big tree over here, I peaked up here. I didn’t see any staff, so what I did was just belly crawl right across. I knew that I could be seen if there was somebody, so I just crawled through the grass and grabbed an apple, crawled back, and ate it behind that tree, and it was the most delicious apple that you could ever eat.
I was coming out and walked up towards the girl’s side, where I would go into the playroom area. Wouldn’t you know that two staff members came down off the veranda, they confronted me, I mean they saw me, I didn’t think they did, I thought I was doing pretty good crawling through grass actually.
You get a few whacks, BIG DEAL. I did not care how much they punished me; to me, the apple was worth it.
I still don’t understand why they would deprive children of apples or any food lying there; it was what is given to us in nature. What is the Harm? What is the harm in feeding children? But I guess what they were doing was supplementing their budget or whatever. Selling the produce that was here from the gardens and apples.
It was just a cruel time; I just remember how bad the food was, being hungry and just being a little kid, I was strong enough to rebel, and that’s what I did; it was well worth the punishment.
Roberta Hill: Thriver post-Canadian Residential labour camp attendance.
Told on the lawn of The Mohawk Institute where the girl’s playground was on May 24th, 2022
The Lieutenant Governor has directed me to inform the deputations of chiefs from the Grand River that he has maturely considered their speech to him and particularly that important part of it which relates to the occupation of their lands by white people without authority.
The Lieutenant Governor is of opinion that very great difficulties will be found in any medium course between the expulsion of all intruders or non-interference, as experience has shown that with all the anxiety to do justice, and with all the care exercised to prevent injury to Indian interest, the interference of the Indians themselves, continually, has created new difficulties, to which there seems to be no end, and yet the Government is expected to compromise its own character by judging what is right and wisely recommended by the Indians, or what, on the other hand, maybe capriciously or corruptly counselled by them.
The Lieutenant Governor is of opinion that there can be no remedy found for the continuance of this unsatisfactory and embarrassing state of affairs while the lands remain general property under circumstances in which it is no reproach to the Indians to say they cannot manage the estate for the general interests of the tribes.
The Lieutenant Governor, therefore, considers that it would be very much the benefit of the interests of the Indians if they surrendered into the hands of the Government the whole tract with the exception of such part of it as they may choose to occupy as a concentrated body, so that the same may be disposed of by Government; and the Lieutenant Governor therefore strongly recommends that this course be adopted by them, that they immediately select a tract of sufficient extent to give each head of a family or grown-up man a farm of 100 or 200 acres, for cultivation in the most eligible situation on the river, together with a further quantity to be reserved for firewood and other contingencies; that the Indians then remove to this track and live together as a concentrated body upon the farms assigned to them, and that the residue of the track be surrendered to be disposed of for the exclusive benefit of the Indians.
The Lieutenant Governor is also of opinion that when the Indians are to settle together there will be no difficulty in keeping away intruders or similar punishing them should they persevere in committing trespass on their attractive land.
The Lieutenant Governor feels confident that the proceeds of the sale of the residue of the land and the timber growing upon it will retrieve the affairs of the six nations Indians, as well as confer on the section of the province a lasting benefit, by bringing into cultivation a large tract of the finest description of land, which at present is not only unproductive to the Indians, but absolutely useless to them in every point of view, and which is considered by the public a bar to the improvement and prosperity of the districts in which it is situated, and in fact, a nuisance which the public have the right to call upon Government to abate.
It is a necessary for the Lieutenant Governor again to express the great anxiety felt by the Queen’s Government to promote the interest of the Indians and to carry out such a system in the management of their affairs as may conduce to this end, and the Lieutenant Governor, therefore, trusts that I remember of the community of the Six Nations Indians will believe him when he states that if he were not firmly convinced that the plan proposed in this communication was the most proper for their adoption he would not have recommended it.
Surrender of Residual Lands, 1841
Samuel P Jarvis to a delegation of Mohawk Chiefs on behalf of acting Lieutenant-Governor Sir George Arthur
Great Britain treaties, Indian treaties and surrenders, one, 119-120
(No correction for Grammer or spelling made)
If you believe this one, Have I got a deal for you!!