Nov 1/98: Six Nations Election Chaos


Mohawk Nation News (MNN)
Sunday, November 1, 1998

MNN. Mohawk Nation News. Kahnawake M.T. 1 Nov. 98. How can Wellington Staats, the head of the Six Nations pseudo council, hold an election under an election code that was made without community consultation or consent, which is illegal? Staats says he'll have an election on November 14th, fix the code, or bring back the Indian Act band council and then maybe have another election. What Staats wants is a three-year term and for non-residents to vote. Doesn't he understand why he had to back off from his illegal "customary council" on the Federal Court House steps in Ottawa?


In case Staats has forgotten, his "band council" asked to be taken out of Section 74 of the Indian Act and put under a so-called "custom government" three years ago. But they didn't count on Brian Maracle. There he was in his little old log cabin, with its crooked floors. He read the Indian Act and thought. Hey! He wasn't consulted like he should have been! So he and his sister Marilyn took action in Federal Court. Then the Iroquois Confederacy Council got involved. Hey! They said...How can the Indian Act Council turn itself into a "customary council"? The Six Nations already has a customary council -- and we're it!

Suddenly before the trial started Staats and his crew agreed to disband their "custom council" because they knew they would lose the case.

There was just one problem. They forgot that three years ago the band council asked Canada to revoke the 1924 Order in Council that violently brought in the band council system. So they took themselves out of the Indian Act so the new custom system could be set up. This is illegal. To bring the former band council back under the Indian Act, they have to start all over - consult the people and win a referendum of a majority of the eligible voters, not just a majority of those who show up.....and they KNEW the people would never vote in an election under Canadian laws like the Indian Act because they are not part of Canada. (Staats doesn't understand? He's forgotten Iroquois history? See below).


Why won't Indian Affairs automatically put the band council back under the Indian Act the way they were asked to? asks Councillor Les Sowden.

The answer is ....Because Indian Affairs knows it's illegal. In Canada it is contrary to public policy to uphold an agreement that violates the law. How on earth can Sowden dream that he can make a personal deal with two members of the Six Nations about how an election should be done. Brian and Marilyn Maracle's point is that the people should be consulted. Sowden should not twist their words.

So the pseudo council sent in a "Band Council Resolution" to Indian Affairs asking to be let back into the Indian Act. The legal way is to go to the people, ask them, and then have a referendum of a majority of eligible electors. If it passes, then they ask Canada for a new Order in Council.

Maybe Indian Affairs forgot that a new Order in Council is needed to put Six Nations back under the Indian Act. Today the true democratic principles the Iroquois Confederacy taught to the oppressed refugees from Europe have been accepted at the international level. It is now international policy to promote self-determination and governments that consult the people.

Canada is a member of the United Nations and has signed international human rights codes which defend civil and political rights and the right of people to self-determination. Canada can no longer get away with the armed force they used in 1924 to throw out the Chiefs from the Council House at Six Nations.

But Canada is still trying to get away with cheating at history. Why else would a bureaucrat like Pilon say that Indian Affairs has been promoting customary councils while it refuses to acknowledge Canada's role in ejecting the traditional Haudenosaunne Council in 1924? In fact, why aren't they recognizing this true customary council of the Six Nations?


Here's an issue. The term of office for the Indian Act Council expires on November 30th. On the other hand, the Confederacy Council has continued to meet all these years. Does this mean if there is no election the Six Nations will have no government and that there is no longer a Canadian government colonial office there? Does it mean that the Confederacy Council is the legitimate government? If so, the Confederacy may be able to once again apply to be a member of the United Nations?

If the fraudulently imposed "custom council" and Indian Act band council disappear, Canada may have no choice but to deal with the true traditional government that consults the people that was in place long before the neglected children of Europe wandered over here. Now that Canada has "responsible government" Canada should be responsible enough to correct past mistakes and stop interfering in true Indian governments.


Surely Canada cannot recognize a council which is chosen by a procedure that violates both Canadian and international law.

But what can Canada do? There are two easy choices. Either it can quietly recognize the existing Confederacy Council that has continued to operate all these years -- or it can ask the United Nations to intervene, consult with the Six Nations and reaffirm a government that has the support of the majority of the people.

Which is simpler? Would recognition of the Confederacy really be so bad? International law is moving away from elections towards decisions by consensus. This means the international community is beginning to understand that the people have power, which is the underlying principle of the Iroquois Confederacy Constitution known as the Kaienerekowa (The Great Law of Peace).


Canada knows that if it supports an election that does not have full community support, any member of the Six Nations can lodge a complaint against Canada at the international level.

Canada surely doesn't want that to happen because the whole sordid history of its theft of Six Nations land and forced colonization of the Iroquois will be exposed to the world. This could harm their image as promoters of human rights.


The Iroquois developed a Confederacy of United Nations long before Europeans knew that might does not make right. When refugees arrived on ABORIGINAL land they learned about mutual respect and self-government. It took them a couple of centuries, and all of the lessons have not sunk in -- but in this century they finally began to realize that if they want peace and prosperity, the people have to exercise power. The Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and countless other international agreements, treaties and declarations now recognize the right of all peoples to self-determination. Some international organizations are even learning to make decisions by consensus...the Confederacy way!

All of this modern development can be traced to the lessons learned by people like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson when they sat at Haudenosaunnee Council meetings. Eventually the American colonies took the example of their Iroquois allies and developed their own form of democratic federal government. It wasn't quite up to Haudenosaunnee standards - American democracy suffers from tyranny of the majority, and the American state still thinks might makes right. But it was a step forward.

American settlers were after Indigenous land - and the Six Nations were important commercial and military allies to Britain. Because of this alliance, the Mohawk left their traditional territory during the American Revolution and moved north with Joseph Brant. Under the Haldimand Treaty Britain guaranteed Mohawk title to the land for six miles on either side of the Grand River. They had to fight hard to keep this. They never forgot their independence. They never became subjects of Britain, Canada, the United States or anyone else.

Meanwhile, Britain saw it had to give settlers in its other colonies a voice or lose them too. So Canada slowly developed its own form of responsible government. Its people were so accustomed to dictatorial rule that they let hidden bureaucrats become 'mandarins' - but without the moral education of Chinese scholars. The bureaucrats pretended that they represented the will of the Canadian people even though Canadians didn't know what was going on. Never mind, they too can learn.

While the settlers were busy stealing Amerindian land and learning about democracy, the Confederacy continued to govern while they modernized their economy. Britain continued to recognize their independence. That is why the Confederacy was not included in the British North America Act (BNA). It's called the Constitution Act 1867 now. Remember - as they learned about governing themselves, the first Canadian provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Quebec) joined together copying the democratic union the Six Nations already had...but that act concerned THEIR constitution - their internal self-government. The Iroquois did not join the settlers' union because they are independent sovereigns and the titleholders of North America.

The settlers were really ignorant about history and they didn't know anything about international law. They forgot about being the allies of the Iroquois. They ignored their promises to them and to other Amerindian Nations. They started telling themselves that they owned everything. When they made their own laws, they started making laws for the Indigenous nations, the sovereigns of North America! The Iroquois immediately objected. And they objected. And they objected. And when that didn't do any good they ignored them as best they could and got on with life.

After World War I the bureaucrats were too much. They started granting Iroquois land and mortgages on their land to returned soldiers. They wanted to assimilate the Iroquois and for their land to be part of Canada. They interfered with every Confederacy Council decision. They stopped paying the interest on the Indian trust funds. They refused to account for a couple of hundred thousand dollars that went missing because they made a bad investment in the Grand River Navigation Company against the Confederacy Council's wishes. The more the Iroquois tried to get justice, the more the bureaucrats interfered in their affairs.

The Iroquois asked for a Supreme Court reference. They refused. The Iroquois appealed to the Governor General. He ignored them. The Iroquois appealed to the King in England. His bureaucrats said it was Canada's business. The Iroquois appealed to the League of Nations. Many countries supported them. But Britain and Canada were too threatening and manipulative. They did everything they could to stop the Iroquois' legitimate case from being heard by the International Court.

Canada's bureaucrats must have gotten desperate. They quickly got an Order in Council and sent in the RCMP to throw out the 60-member traditional Confederacy Council. The Iroquois could not stop this invasion. According to their way, the chiefs were appointed by the clan mothers in consultation with the people. An election was held. Only 25 votes were cast. The Confederacy Council continued to operate, but Canada ignored it.

That is how the "elected" Indian Act band council got its start. The Iroquois don't vote because they are not Canadians. They are not British subjects. They are not anybody's colony. And they do not recognize pseudo governments that are put in by brute force. Today the international community does not tolerate such an imposition.

Canada has deliberately forgotten all this history. It likes to think it's a big promoter of human rights. The Iroquois have not forgotten what really happened.


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