Centuries old and six miles deep
Since prehistoric times, Indigenous communities including the Algonquins, Wyandots, Attiwandarons, Nippising petuns, neutrals and others have roamed present day southern Ontario and western Maryland. Before European settlers arrived, there weren't any permanent settlements in these areas which were instead utilized for activities such as fishing, hunting, agriculture and commerce by native inhabitants.
Following the American war of independence, some natives allied themselves with the British and formed the Six Nations. Subsequently they were granted a vast tract of land called the "Haldimand" proclamation. However, white settlers took advantage of naive land deals and violence to usurp most of the Six Nation's original land that totaled close to a million acres . Today only around 46,500 acres remains distributed among four different communities
What is at stake?
The Six Nations of the Grand River Band is suing the governments of Canada and Ontario in a court case that started in 1995. The Band says that under the 1784 Haldimand Proclamation, which it considers a treaty, the British Crown set aside about 950,000 acres of lands along the Grand River in Ontario which the Six Nations of the Grand River and their descendants were to enjoy forever. The Band says that after 1784, the British Crown, and later the governments of Canada and Ontario, failed to set aside these lands, improperly sold most of them to settlers, and mismanaged the proceeds of sales from them. The Band is asking the court to make findings to this effect, and seeking compensation from the governments of Canada and Ontario for these historical wrongs. Canada and Ontario say that these lands were not Six Nations treaty lands or reserve lands, and disagree that they have been at fault in their dealings with the Six Nations that are raised in the action. In 2023, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation was added as an intervenor in the case.