Tyendinaga: for the Return of Culbertson Tract Lands

Tyendinaga: for the Return of Culbertson Tract Lands

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John Ahni Schertow
January 18, 2007
 

Here are a couple of stories about what’s been happening with regard to the ‘Culbertson’ tract of land, a part of Tyendinaga (Six Nations) Territory. Updates and background information will follow.

Tuesday January 15, from ocapblog.blogspot.com

Tyendinaga: Update on the Fight for Return of Culbertson Tract Lands

The Culbertson Land Tract

The Culbertson is a tract of land, 923 acres in size that runs along the eastern boundary of Tyendinaga today. In 1837 the Federal Government changed the status of the land from Indian land to white land.

All agreements with the Mohawk Nation predate the existence of Canada. While the Mohawk Chiefs immediately registered their people’s dissent in 1837 when the land was stolen, no formal legal process existed to pursue its return. Despite a fundamental obligation to uphold previous agreements between the Mohawks and the crown, the Federal Government only created such a process in 1991.

Tyendinaga filed a formal claim for the land with the Feds in 1995. The claim seeks the restoration of lands to the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory.

In November 2003, Tyendinaga received a letter from the Federal Government acknowledging what the people of Tyendinaga have always known: That the Culberston Tract was never surrendered and is Mohawk Land.

Since then the Federal Government has been trying to get Tyendinaga to take a buy-out for the land. Mohawk people know the value of land cannot have a dollar sign attached and that the future generations of our growing population will depend on this land. Tyendinaga will accept nothing less than the full and unfettered return of these lands to Mohawk control and use.

Deseronto

The Mayor of Deseronto has said that the town’s economic viability and survival depends on the development of Culbertson tract lands.

Tyendinaga’s Rotiskenhrakehte have twice ensured that deadlines to begin development of these lands have not been realized. “If they cannot find a way to survive without our land then they simply cannot continue to exist,” said Tyendinaga Mohawk, Shawn Brant.

The Rotiskenhrakehte have also been mandated to close a Deseronto quarry, situated on Culberston Tract lands, that literally digs up, sells off and ships out Mohawk land by the truckload. This obscene state of affairs can no longer be tolerated.

Land Claim Arrests

The Government struck back last Friday in a failed attempt to slow the momentum in the reclamation of 923 acres of Mohawk Nation Lands in Tyendinaga.

Friday’s attempt to target and remove Tyendinaga leadership with a clear embellishment of events surrounding the charges of Shawn Brant and Mario Baptiste has done nothing more than inflame the situation and anger the community.

Shawn and Mario would likely still be in jail if Tyendinaga community members had not responded immediately with imminent plans to shut down Deseronto completely.

The motive for the charges was made clear when the Crown pushed (unsuccessfully) for conditions barring the accused from Deseronto and the Culberston Land Claim Tract entirely.

“We have been denied our land for 170 years. That’s not going to fly anymore. There is no level of Government or police force that will keep a Mohawk off their own land,” said Tyendinaga, Mohawk Nation citizen, Jay Maracle.

Wednesday, January 10, from www.intelligencer.ca

Mohawk land protest – closes road, business.
By Bruce Bell, The Intelligencer

DESERONTO — A small group of native protesters this morning targeted a local aggregate business in an effort to stop a proposed housing development on disputed land.

Approximately 30 protesters shut down a section of Deseronto Road at 7 a.m. and warned there will be more protests if they have to return to the site in the future.

“The developer gave a Jan. 10 date as the day they would break ground, regardless of what is happening, so we will be here until the end of the business day,” said spokesman Shawn Brant. “We are targeting Thurlow Aggregates today because they will be assisting with the infrastructure for the project by supplying gravel.

“We do not have issues with the people of Deseronto and don’t want to disrupt their businesses and roads, but we warned the town the last time we were here, if this proceeded there would be economic consequences.
If we have to come back again, the consequences will be more severe next time.”

Brant said the property, more than 900 acres in disputed lands, must be returned to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte. continued on intelligencer.ca

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