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Developer warned four months ago about Six Nations land

The Hamilton Spectator
Caledonia (Mar 9, 2006)

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. Mainstream media often presents biased and distorted information, lacking pertinent facts and/or context. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

The Douglas Creek Estates protest started about four months ago with native activists handing out leaflets to motorists driving by the new subdivision.

They warned the residential development outside of Caledonia fell within the Haldimand Tract and couldn't be bought or sold because it was still native land.

At about the same time, Six Nations elected band council Chief David General wrote Don Henning, a principle in Henco Industries, warning him about the dangers of developing a subdivision within native land.

"As you may be aware, you are not the first proponent within the Grand River Tract to have experienced peaceful protests by Six Nations members," General wrote on Oct. 26, 2005.

He warned Henning, who has invested about $6 million in the development, that other developers had purchased properties without realizing they were the subject of unresolved land claims. He advised Henning to try to resolve the matter "in a productive and peaceful manner."

In a court document filed last week, Henning stated he had notified the band council when he submitted the draft plan for his subdivision and had received no objections.

"As a result, the Douglas Creek Estates plan of subdivision was approved," he added in an affidavit.

The protest -- which General hasn't endorsed -- has now escalated to a full-scale occupation of the partially constructed subdivision.

Native protesters like Dawn Smith, a spokesperson for the Six Nations Confederacy, have suggested the action is the first step in the reclamation of lands that were stolen from the Six Nations Reserve since the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784. Protesters are worried the pressure for housing in the Golden Horseshoe will cause more encroachment on native territory in the future.

In the case of Douglas Creek Estates, Smith says the developer didn't follow the law by failing to notify the Confederacy or traditional chiefs, which she argues have sole jurisdiction over land claims.

The British Crown granted the Six Nations Reserve a 10- kilometre strip on each side of the Grand River from the mouth to the source, a tract of about 950,000 acres. It was a reward for the Six Nations supporting the British during the American Revolution. But today, the reserve covers only about 5 per cent of the tract. Protesters say the rest of the lands were stolen, squatted on or illegally transferred after being leased to non-natives.

Smith says under the Great Law -- which guides the Confederacy -- there is no concept of ownership of land and, therefore, nobody had the authority to sell the land in the first place.

General also has concerns about the increased encroachment on native territory and had written letters to adjacent municipalities about the issue.

"Six Nations is concerned about the cumulative effect of ( Douglas Creek)...and impending growth in the Caledonia area on the Grand River Tract and the Grand River basin," he wrote to Haldimand County officials on Jan. 4, 2006.

He added the proposed development and impending growth would continue to infringe on Six Nations treaty rights.

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