Town tired of native protest

Posted: April 12, 2008 in Deseronto, Headlines, Land claims, Natives, Shawn Brant, Terrorism

The Intelligencer

The Town of Deseronto went public with its frustration over the Culbertson Tract land claim Friday, issuing a sharply-worded press release.

The municipality is questioning Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Chief R. Donald Maracle’s leadership in the wake of two recent protests staged on contested town land.

Napanee OPP were called to a verbal confrontation on Old Highway 2 Thursday morning as a worker was clearing brush. And on March 31, a group of protesters disrupted a meeting for contractors interested in bidding on an expansion project for a Hastings County-owned seniors affordable housing unit.

Deseronto deputy mayor Clarence Zieman said the county’s decision this week to halt plans to expand the building prompted town officials to take action.

The home was to have its common room expanded and its parking lot repaired, but no contractors submitted a bid within the county’s $150,000 budget, a fact officials attribute to the risk of more protests.

“This was a real low blow to us,” said Zieman, who is representing the town while Mayor Norm Clark is vacationing in Scotland.

The town believes the protests were staged by natives upset over perceived development of Culbertson Tract land, he said.

The 923-acre tract covers about half of Deseronto, including Edmon Street, where the seniors home is located. The federal government recently began negotiating the land’s return to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

The press release said Maracle lobbied Hastings County to not make improvements to the seniors home earlier in 2008. It also alleges that native protest leader Shawn Brant was behind the March 31 demonstration. However, Brant’s role in the incident could not be confirmed.

“Thanks to the posturing of Chief Maracle and Shawn Brant people of moderate and limited means will suffer,” the press release said. “Seniors won’t have the benefit of a slightly larger common room so that more than a few residents of the building can get together at one time. Nor will they have a safe, evenly paved parking area that leads to the front.”

Zieman said while Maracle has denied having anything to do with the protests, his stance that the full parcel of land be returned to Mohawks makes him as “unreasonable” as demonstrators, such as Brant. “Who’s running the reserve?” Zieman said. “Is it Shawn Brant or is it Chief Maracle and his council?

Reached at a chiefs meeting in Niagara Falls, Maracle said he was “very offended” by the press release, especially because it linked him with Brant.

He said he never lobbied the county to stop repair work and the band council has not endorsed any protests.

“Neither I nor my council have discussed halting any work at that building,” he said. “The protest occurred without our knowledge. If the Town of Deseronto is going to issue press statements, they have an obligation to get their facts in order.

“I am not in working with Shawn Brant as they allude to and I’m offended by the remarks.”

Meanwhile, residents of the seniors home that sparked the debate said they were baffled over why anyone would oppose repairs to their building.

“Sure we all understand they own (the land),” said Bev Lawlor, a resident sitting in the common room, which was to receive a 250-square-foot expansion. “But, heck, we’re just trying to make a better building. We’re not out to make a disco or anything.”

But on Deseronto Road, where a small group of Mohawks are blocking the entrance to a quarry to stop potential development of tract land, a different viewpoint was offered.

A man, who did not give his name, said he was not at the protest, but understood what it was all about.

“People were just stopping by to remind that any development of tract land shouldn’t take place because it undermines negotiations,” he said.

Brant could not be reached for comment.

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Comments
  1. Annie says:

    Chief Maracle, needs to step up and condemn these actions by Shawn Brant and his group. And the courts need to revoke Brant’s bail if he was indeed a part of this. I would strongly like to point out one misconception the there is a reserve in Tyendinaga. It is a TERRITORY, not a reserve. That is a whole other animal. It was settle by five families from the Mohawk valley in New York, for there service in the war, like any other UEL that received land for fighting with the crown.

    It is sickening that this group would choose to punish seniors who are already suffering. If Maracle and his council do not support Brant than they need to make it very clear instead of talking out of BOTH SIDES OF THEIR MOUTHS. Those of us who live here are sick and tired of listening to that crap. Clearly, they do not care who they hurt. This protest was a despicable display by going at seniors in a home, and will not win support. Personally, I and sick and tired of all the lies that brant and maracle tell, and it is high time that someone put a stop to it. Unfortunately for the seniors they are on their own.

    This group is a group of cowards. They swarmed a convoy of STUDENT drivers from base, (given that so many convoys go thru every year, with seasoned soldiers, noticeably they never stopped them), and now they go after seniors. What a group of cowards, it sure would be nice to see them all in Jail. Hopefully Brant gets the 12 years he so richly desires in January 2009. You can get your point across without lies and hatred coming out of your mouth. Even the last judgement the Mohawk council won against Shawn Brant clearly showed his prevalence for lying and those where numerous sworn statements. It was nice to see the Judge call him, what he so richly deserves, a liar and a person only out to benefit themselves.

    Deseronto has had it with our Mohawk neighbors.

    Annie

  2. Scott says:

    Annie;

    So glad you read the ruling. Notice, however, that a 16 year case is still not complete, as there are glaring flaws (from both sides) with the judgment. And the land in question, and the business that resides on it, is still open for business.

    I question a few things in your post. First, you mention that Mr. Brant’s group swarmed student drivers. I was there, and took photos of the events as they unfolded. Did you see it? On their vehicles, did even one of them have any type of placard stating it was student drivers? May be a small point, however, since you are calling him a coward over it, I would have to question how you would have known they were student drivers (or indeed how Mr. Brant would have known the same) – prior to the newspaper reports?

    Second, where is your evidence that a ‘territory’ is any different than a ‘reserve’ ?

    The Federal government listed Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory as reserve number 06217, and inhabited by First Nation band 164 (Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte). Seems to be if the federal government calls it a reserve, the provincial government calls it a reserve, and for taxation purposes, it is a reserve… it must be… a reserve? (If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc…)

    The last note I will leave with is that I have been to band council meetings where the band (and specifically the ‘chief’ Mr. R Donald Maracle) does NOT object to the actions of Mr. Brant, however, to the media he seems to have no problems saying he does not sanction the methods. The point in that is that it would be confusing (in the least) to say that MBQ/R. Donald Maracle were OR WERE NOT supportive of any of the actions.

    Of a final note to that statement, as in all ways of life, it would have to be the peoples choice on how to deal with issues – which is not necessarily reflected by the elected system. With this, you would have to keep in mind that many native people do not believe in the elected system, and therefore do NOT vote. Consequently, a ‘chief’ may be elected, when traditionally, it would not be this way. As a community, with decisions made by a majority of the community, they may conflict with the ‘elected’ system.

    As for ‘attacks on seniors’ – I don’t believe the dispute is surrounding the fact that there are seniors, I believe it was said at a community meeting that there was a mandate to have NO further construction on the culbertson land until a resolve is met. Since this land will be returning to the reserve (or at least to the band) why continue to spend money when it will be lost in the settlement anyways?

    In any case, my intention was not to start an argument, but only to give a wider perspective. I welcome your comments?

  3. Annie says:

    Scott,

    Firstly, the trucks clearly had student driver signs on them as they are required by law. As a Mohawk and lifetime area resident, you know that the trucks train drivers and go thru every year a number of times. There was no fear by the protestors at the quarry any other time, but along comes a convoy of student drivers, which would not include seasoned soldiers, if you live in the area you know the difference and cannot fain ignorance because it buys you press time and another soapbox to stand on. If you where there at the time you cannot miss the student driver signs on the vehicles as they approach.

    Secondly, if it is a reserve than it should be called one. It has always been called a territory. If your going to call it a reserve than change your signs including the new one on the 401 claiming unclean water. From my grandmother who is mohawk it was my understanding that five families settled that territory after the war. She herself has never referred to it as a reserve. I was not raised calling it a reserve. My grandmother always said that a reserve was an area of land that ONLY first nations people lived on, and in the territory they are not all first nations. That was her difference, and that seems to be the case.

    While of course it was an attack on seniors. This was not a massive extension or area, and I am sure the Bay of Quinte Mohawks will be well compensated when this is finally settled.

    As far Chief Maracle goes he speaks one thing to mohawks and another to the press and quite frankly some people are sick of it. If you do not object to Brant’s actions than have the integrity to say so to the press. Numerous stories cannot be getting that fact wrong, nor can other mohawks be wrong.

    Scott, I have firmly believed that you fight the good fight, but you do it with honesty and integrity. Shawn Brant has neither. Spewing hate on you tube. I understand the frustration, but I also know that it takes time to effect change. It took me 15 years to change the education policies regarding disabled children. The system is slow but it is the only one we have. Did he care about the seniors in that home and how upset they would be? Did anyone care when screaming at students in a convoy? Did the student driver signs give them pause to just let it go? Of course not, no press in that. You have to see both sides of the line, and Shawn brant does not, and yes I stand by my word coward, seniors and students there is no other word.

    I do see the world from two sides and being mohawk gives me a great understanding and a perspective that if you are not mohawk you do not have. But I refuse to spew hate and distort the truth only when it makes you press headlines. I would rather work the only system we have to make a difference, because it can be made without terrorizing my neighbors what ever colour they may be. Militancy is not the solution, but for Brant it feeds his need for publicity. You may not like the laws, but they apply to all of us equally. The territory has had many people get an education and bring back that knowledge to their people, that is the key and it will always be the key success. Give the young hope and they will be successful, give them lies and militancy and they will only grow to hate and close their hearts and minds off to others.

    15 years was a long time to wait, but in the end it was worth it. Did it help the children it hurt at the time, no but it did and has helped those who have come after. It has made their lives easier. I never lied, resorted to militancy, or threats to get it done. It was based on the honest facts and nothing more. Could the system have moved forward sooner, I surely thought so. I did not have to break the law to make my point either. If you want people to care, about the lack of clean water and living standards you can do that effectively with the support of your neighbors, but it you want publicity you do what Brant is doing. At the end of the day he has not made one well clean, or changed the living conditions of anyone, and has isolated the territory from its neighbors. That does not further anyone’s agenda but his, and even my grandmother would tell you that.

    Annie

  4. Scott says:

    The dictionary defines ‘territory’ as 1. [n] – a territorial possession controlled by a ruling state (ie; province, state, location). In my eyes, as well as many others, the correct term would be ‘nation’ which the dictionary defines as 2. [n] – a federation of tribes (especially native tribes). To argue that point, however, would be moot. According to the government, it is called a territory, and still houses a reserve.

    I am Mohawk. I do not hail from Tyendinaga. I have both lived and worked here for quite some time, and do watch the way things are done – and while I may not agree with everything done, or every way in which those things are done, I would also have to say I am understanding of why they are done in that manner, at least to a certain extent.

    The only question I have, however, and keep in mind this was 18 months ago; do you have any photos of the event in which the army moved through Deseronto that shows student driver placards on the vehicles? As I mentioned, I was there and did not see them – from your perspective, they do it ‘often; and therefore everybody should have known’ but it does raise a question that I myself did NOT know until after the article was published in the Belleville Intelligencer.

  5. caledoniawakeupcall says:

    For those wondering, I’m keeping out of this because both Annie and Scott have a perspective much different from mine on this issue and I’m very interested in what they have to say.

    I would ask but one question. Scott, are you affiliated with the Mohawk Nation News by chance?

    Jeff

  6. Annie says:

    The convoy cannot leave the bases without the student driver signs clearly marked on the vehicles. They cannot drive up and down highways without the public knowing they are student drivers just like student drivers learning to drive a car. If you really have actually been in this area, you know that. And your fixation with the pictures changes nothing. Clearly the pictures taken where done so to make sure they did not capture the signs. That trial has already been heard. Shawn Brant can attempt to have amnesia but this has been going on for all of my 40+ years and anyone that is truly from the area knows that. That you admitedly did not know is of no concern, that Brant knew is. You admittedly are NOT FROM HERE. But hey, if you can spin it into something it was not, sure does get you some press. Only those living outside this area eat that up, and those who live here are fed up. I passed the convoy as they headed up the highway, clearly marked, and know a student on the convoy. I was disgusted by Brant’s behaviour, Like I said STUDENTS and SENIORS make you a coward. You can absolutely make your point without terrorizing them anyone with a brain knows that if the army was going to move in, they would have cleared the tracks, not the quarry. But again if you want to spin this, he had an opportunity to make something out of nothing and did it, and the press gave him his time.

    Personally Scott, as a mohawk I believe as I was taught by my grandmother, we need ALL OUR NEIGHBORS, we all have a part to play. That is right ALL. If you want to help a group of people, you do so with honour and integrity, and anything less brings shame to your people. I choose to effect change with honesty, it is possible, you do not have to hurt innocent people, and you can help those you love and care about. It takes time, the process is too slow, but that’s what we have. All people who reside in this great country have the same process, it is not a system against first nations but a system that can at times fail all Canadians. It does not target first nations, it targets all because after governments are elected and that includes Chiefs, politicians have little use for you until the next election. The ‘SYSTEM” is kind to no one, but that is what we have. I go to sleep knowing that I helped children of all races who have disabilities, in education in Ontario, but I also know that it did not help the those at the time, but it is there faces and names I knew and loved and they gave me strength to carry on the fight to its mind numbing 15 year conclusion. While I may have fought the fight it is their victory. A victory for all families and children yet to come and yet to be born.

    If Militancy was the way then, all 10,000+ mohawks in the territory and surrounding area would back Brant. That they do not speaks volumes. That the support comes from outside the area for Brant also speaks volume. I live here, I love my neighbors, they are great, reasonable people who care. It matters not where they come from, even if it does to others. They did not commit any of the injustices hundreds of years ago. And I will not terrorize them because of their colour, that is shameful. I am sick and tired of people spinning a situation into something its not.

    In all this press what has Brant done. He preached hate towards people who where not here when treaties where signed. He broke the law numerous times. He has driven his sick need for press. But what has he really done for the mohawks? Has he changed anything? No he has continued to preach his hatred of the “white man”. He has not cleaned one well, made one life better for a child on the territory, he has isolated our friends and neighboring communities. That is nothing to be proud of. When I look to my people I will look to those like Janet Brant, and Eagle orthotics who brought back what they learned to actually help their people they do not do so for press. I will look to the FNTI teachers with pride at the good they are doing our people.

    Hatred breeds hatred and it has never been the answer, as history has taught us if we listen, and it always will. You have a nice one Scott, and choose to make a difference in the way that honours our people.

    Thank you Jeff for allowing me to express my opinions and insights here. I often feel as though, others outside the area clearly misunderstand us, with the constant press feed on Brant, and only Brant.

    Annie

  7. Scott says:

    First, to answer the question from Jeff: No, I am in no way, shape, or form affiliated with MNN, other than being a subscriber to their service (as well as a reader on here, as well as CWUC. I am assuming you are asking due to the email address I am posting with (to which nobody else sees, correct?) – the email address I am using to post is used by quite a few in the community as an anonymous posting address. You can remove or moderate the foregoing, if you wish – it is a monitored address, however, it is also used by many, and to again answer your question, no.

    For Annie;

    I don’t think me not being ‘from here’ has anything to do with it. I am Mohawk, and I am proud. By treaties, the land is for all (men, women, children, chiefs, etc) of the Six Nations. That I am not on this ‘membership list’ speaks little.

    Also, I am not spinning anything in any way to ‘get press’ – and like I said, I *do* live in this area, work in this area, and participate in the economy of this area. As I mentioned, I also have differing opinions at times on how things are handled.

    Even in an article posted a mere four hours ago in the Kingston Whig, it still has band council stating that while they may disagree with the way in which the situation was handled, the outcome was correct.

    This is a quote from the article on the Whig: “Donald Maracle, chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, has lobbied the county to halt plans for the renovations.

    Both Maracle and Brant have said development shouldn’t occur in the disputed land claim area until negotiations have ended. ”

    This is exactly the things that keep being seen; Mr. Brant says one thing, Mr. Maracle says he wants “No part of these protesters” – but then follows up with “but I agree with him/them”

    Yes, I agree with you 110% that honesty, integrity, and trust are of utmost importance; not just to Natives, but to everybody. Seriously, look at anybody from two kids playing in a school yard, all the way to a couple that have been married for 60 years; they will all have something in common. Without honesty, integrity, and trust, they would not be lovers, they would not be friends. Even business works the same way; for a deal to take place, there must be trust (the goods you are buying are fresh, priced well, reliable); there must be honesty (the product must do what it is intended to do, and what the purchasing party wants); there must be integrity (the warranty will be honored; the seller will stand behind the sale).

    And while I agree with all of that, there are also other teachings, such as the Two Row Wampum, which in short states that as much as we exist side be side, we are still independent. We will travel down the river together, but in our own ways, and in our own vessel. We will not impose our laws on one another.

    I already see your comment that by Mr. Brant speaking against development, he is attempting to impost ‘his law’ in the other vessel; However, if you look at it in a larger perspective, the Canadian government is attempting to impose their laws on Mohawks by taking the lands, negotiating (with themselves, no less) on the return of the stolen lands, and charging people (provincially, on top of it all) for what they do on what the federal government already states is Native land.

    The final note that I will leave with is your number of 10,000 Mohawks in the territory and surrounding area. Where do you gather that number from? There are 2,098 MBQ members living on territory, much less than 8,000 members of MBQ in the Country. I would suspect that if you count all members living on territory, plus those in surrounding communities (even from other territories/reserves living close by), the number would not be 10,000. On that note, as you stated, there would be more to ‘back Brant’ – but by the article, there are more that ‘back Brant’ – they just change their minds on how they ‘back him’ depending on whom they are speaking with, and what the political influx will be?

    I agree hatred is not the answer. I also happen to agree that protesters do not always need to be in the face of their neighbors. Also, I am spinning nothing ‘for press’ – this is simply two peoples opinions on the same subject; a conversation, if you will.

    Either way, I am not in any way saying your opinions are wrong, and am gaining nothing from having this conversation (spin for publicity??) other than to hear another person’s opinions. I hope you feel the same way… I have been known to be wrong before, and have no problem admitting that!

    For the record, I acknowledge that Mr. Brant may very well have known that the vehicles moving through Deseronto may have been student drivers, all I was saying is that I did not. Questioning if I was there is silly, I do have photos of being there; and I don’t think any person taking photos took any type of ‘special care’ to ensure that no photo was taken to include a student driver placard – there was independent media present, and they would have had no reason not to take such photos, either?

  8. Annie says:

    We could go around forever. However, I believe that you can achieve your goals without terrorizing people. I cannot fault my neighbors for what may have occurred a couple hundred years ago. How we live is how we are measured and how we will answer to our ancestors. I choose to look to positive examples, and hope our young people will look to them as well. I give thanks for those like Janet Brant, and the teachers at FNTI, who are trying through hard work and determination to bring positive change to our people. They are the true role models for all of us. I am ashamed of anyone who uses the history to terrorize our neighbors for things they never did. My grandmother taught me respect for others, compassion, and an understanding and open heart even in the face of adversity, and that it is never acceptable to harm in anyway someone else. She is a proud mohawk, and so am I. Terrorizing communities because they are white, is unacceptable and it always will be. These are my neighbors, I know their names, their pain and their struggles. It has been nice chatting with you, Scott. Understanding comes with an open heart and mind and I hope that a few do not close the minds of many.

    Again thank you Jeff for the opportunity to speak about this not only to share my understandings, but to demonstrate that many of us care deeply about our neighbors and friends who may not know much about my people. We care and appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.

    Annie

  9. caledoniawakeupcall says:

    You are always very welcome to share your views here Annie and I thank you for doing so as often as you do.

    I firmly believe that if there were more people like you who are willing to stand up and proclaim that you are not represented by the likes of Shawn Brant and the Warrior society, their leverage would be shattered and they would be tossed in jail.

    My thanks to both you and Scott for your insight,

    Jeff

  10. Kyle says:

    Well hello there! First off I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Kyle Brian Fingland, son of Brian Fingland and grandson to Don Fingland. As you may or may not know we have been farming a fairly large chunk of the disputed Culbertson Tract for approximately a Hundred years. The farm is located directly to the north of the town of Deseronto. We are bordered on the east by Kimmet’s land (“the Quarry”) and on the west by the current border of the Tyendinaga nation, reserve, territory, etc. Although the Mohawk rebels led by Shawn Brant have been terrorizing the community for some time now, and have been using “the Quarry” as their homebase for a year we have not really had any disturbances on our land. UNTIL YESTERDAY!.. The “rebels” plowed through our page wire fence in three 50 foot sections along the border to east and the disputed quarry. They then proceeded with the backhoe (followed by trucks and ATVs) across our recently planted fields to the creek where they dug a trench across Lower Slash Road, while also doing more damage along the one km route. For the last two days now these rebels have been driving across every square inch of our planted back country. Not to mention they thought it would be a fun game to light our tarped round hay bale stack on fire. This has gone too far! We have been nothing but generous and kind to our neighbours to the west. We have rented numourous acreage from surrounding farmers, as well, we pastured 80 heffeirs at the Point near the Mohawk airport for a quarter century. I guess I’m just writing on this sight because I liked Annie’s views on the whole matter. I agree that our “government” needs to settle this claim asap, but Shawn Brant and his rebels are going about it the wrong way. We have a business to run here, those crops that they are destroying are the wheat for your bread, the grains for your tender chickens and our beautiful Black Angus cattle and we cannot just cease work because you feel like you’re being terrorized everytime you go back there. They’re F$#@*&G cowards but I will not go into that part just yet. One thing for the record I’d like to admit is my family does not seek financial gains for our land, we are purely farmers and have been farming the land for 4 generations. So therefore it will be a terrible shame if this claim goes the way, it just may. I am going to end this with a request that Scott or Annie deliver this upon the Band and to wish my brother and I luck tomorrow when we go repair the fence next to the quarry.

    Thanks for listening,
    Kyle

  11. Annie says:

    Kyle, I am passing on your message to Don Maracle. I will hope that you stay safe as you repair your fence. It is awful to see our neighbors so mistreated. Thank you for your post, the courage to speak up, during what can only be described as difficult times. Your post speaks to how we have all gotten along over the years, side by side for 100+ years. I hope that no animals or building where burnt, as I known how fast hay can burn. I also understand how terrifying that can be. Please know that the majority of mohawks are peaceful people, and are HEARTBROKEN, as we see schools closed, neighbors terrorized, friends hurt deeply. While this land claim absolutely needs to be settled, Brant is wrong, the lawlessness is wrong, and the horrible acts perpetrated on neighbors must STOP. Brant’s hatred is not the mohawk way, it will never be the mohawk way. In the end we are all responsible for our OWN ACTIONS. Kyle, I am so sorry for the way you are being treated, please stay safe. In Caledonia a man was beaten, I fear for my neighbors and friends, I shall be thinking of you and praying this ends soon, so any healing that is possible can happen. My ancestors weep with me, as I watch such pain, caused by such a small group. Again, on behalf of many mohawks I know, we are so truly sorry to you and your family our neighbor for so many generations.

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