Scouting the Haldimand Tract

Posted on January 6th, 2020 by in History Read 3095 Times.

THE COUNCIL MET and talked for many days. Through careful deliberation, they discerned a way forward. “Let us send men and women to scout this land; land that was promised for our use over 200 years ago, land six miles deep from each side of the Grand River.” With approval from the clan mothers, the idea was brought to the community, who also agreed.

From each clan and each nation of the Haudenosaunee, men and women were chosen.

From the clans of land: bear, wolf, and deer;
from the clans of water: turtle, eel, and beaver;
from the clans of air: snipe, hawk, and heron.
From the nations: Mohawk, Seneca, and Onondaga,
Cayuga, Oneida, and Tuscarora.

These were their instructions: “Go up and down the river called O:se Kenhionhata:tie (which in Mohawk means “willow river”) and see what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, whether they are few or many, and whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the towns that they live in are unwalled or fortified, and whether the land is rich or poor, and whether there are trees in it or not. Be bold, and bring back some of the fruit of the land.”

So the scouts left the Six Nations Reserve, the land in which they had been living, less than five percent of the land promised them.

They went up the river to its headwaters,
travelling through Brantford and Paris,
Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo,
Elora, Fergus, and Grand Valley,
to its source outside Dundalk.

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They also went down the river to its mouth,
through Caledonia and Mount Healy,
Cayuga and Dunnville,
to its mouth at Port Maitland.

At the end of 40 days, they returned from scouting the land. They came to the council and to all the people and showed them the fruit of the land: corn, beans, and squash; BlackBerries and Google Maps. They reported: “We travelled the land that was promised and it is an abundant land; it flows with fish and syrup, and this is its fruit. We found the documents that show how the land was taken from us and the lease money cheated from us. Yet there are many people who live on the land. They have cut the trees and covered the land in boxes. They block the rivers so the fish cannot spawn and bring toxic waste to its headwaters. They are giants on the land with giant machines to tend their crops in straight rows, giant trails to travel quickly in straight lines, giant buildings to reach straight up in the sky.”

A woman from the bear clan spoke: “Let us go at once and rejuvenate this land, for we are strong enough. Do we not have proof that the land was set for our use and how it was unlawfully taken from us? Did not some of the people already know that this land was promised to us?”

But others who had gone with her said, “We are not able to go up against these people yet, for they are stronger than us. Their eyes only look at screens and their ears only listen through cords; they will not see or hear us.” And so they brought an unfavourable report back to the Haudenosaunee council, saying, “All the people that we saw in it are of great size. To ourselves we seemed insignificant, like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

By: Sara Brubacher, UNSETTLING THE WORD Biblical Experiments in Decolonization

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Tags: brantford, cambridge, cayuga, dundalk, dunnville, elora, fergus, giants, grand valley, haldimand tract, kitchener, mount healy, paris, port maitland, promised land, scout, waterloo, willow river. Want to see all the Tags?