OHSWEKEN — Six Nations of the Grand River elected chief Mark Hill has sent a letter to municipalities along the Haldimand Tract, saying the elected council is the only entity with the legal capacity to enter into consultation and consultation discussions. accommodation for projects affecting the Six Nations.

The letter, released July 11, urges municipalities to engage with Six Nations to advance reconciliation and development, but says such talks must be conducted exclusively with the elected Six Nations of the Grand River council — and nobody else.

The letter arrives, as the chief says confusion is being solicited along the Haldimand Tract by provincial staff directing municipal leaders and developers to seek housing from several entities, including Six Nations, Mississaugas of the Credit and Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council through the Haudenosaunee Development Institute.

This, he says, is bad information.

“Some provincial officials have confused municipalities and Haldimand Tract developers about who they should consult when a development is proposed in our territory. The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld and recognized the elected Chief and Council of Six Nations of the Grand River as our nation’s only legitimate government. The law clearly states that it is the elected government of the Six Nations of the Grand River with whom any consultation regarding development in the Haldimand Tract must take place,” writes Chief Hill.

“The elected Chief and the Six Nations of the Grand River Council are solely accountable to the SNGR community, and our deliberations and governance are marked by transparency. We report and are accountable to members of our community. For this reason, consultation processes or discussions cannot take place without the prior consent, outreach and involvement of our Chief and Council,” Chief Hill wrote. “No official or outside promoter may engage with any organization or individual that does not have legal status or accreditation by the SNGR.”

The letter comes as cities and institutions along the Tract seek to take steps towards reconciliation and engage in the creation of land acknowledgments and other policies to recognize the land rights of Indigenous peoples – as Six Nations are going through a season of political polarization and internal extremes.

Chief Hill acknowledged the various political beliefs in the territory and said there are people within the provincial system – who are not members of Six Nations – who are giving out the wrong information, advising people not to hold account of legal processes for consultation on matters relating to Six Nations and are instead inserting their own guidance on what consultation should include. This, the chief says, is inappropriate and harms the community – adding to internal political disputes.

“The Six Nations of the Grand River are vibrant and diverse, and as a political community they are indivisible. We hold our traditional leadership in high regard, maintaining bonds of respect and frequent communication. But our respect for their position and our traditions should not be used against us by outside parties,” Chief Hill wrote. “It would be an unacceptable interference in our affairs if external bodies were to engage in parallel discussions outside of the SGRS process. For municipalities, provincial officials or developers to hold separate parallel discussions or consultation processes would not only divide our people, but undermine the principle of government accountability in our community. The very idea creates mistrust and is seen as a “divide and conquer” approach.

Chief says SNGR will meet with provincial authorities to insist confusion is cleared up and no one at the provincial level is ordering developers or municipalities to consult anyone other than SNGR on matters relating to the Six Nations along the Haldimand Tract.