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Canadian Indians, or Indian Canadians?

In a bloodless revolution on Thursday, the hereditary chiefs of the Six Nations Indians have proclaimed the independence of their confederacy. Their braves —some sporting buckskin clothes, feathered headdress, warpaint and hatchets —broke into the Council House at Ohsweken, from which the elected councillors had discreetly departed. in an obvious bid for support by the younger generation, the chiefs declared a school holiday. They have telegraphed President Eisenhower to say they are ready to make a treaty “between our nations.” No doubt they will ask admis-sion to the United Nations, and they may even want six seats. Ottawa’s diplomacy faces a challenge.

The case of the hereditary chiefs is that the Six Nations—the Mohawks, Senecas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Oneidas and Tuscaroras—were allies of the Crown during the American Revolution. Some of their people stayed in New York State—where a declaration of independence may be expected any day now—and others followed Chief Joseph Brant to the Grand River land grant. In cahoots with Canada, subversive elements got the vote In 1924 and ever since have been electing a council, headed by Chief Edward Garlow. Led by Chief Joe Logan, Sr., the hereditary chiefs have opposed use of the franchise and now claim to be back in power.

The federal government is accustomed to sectional, provincial and regional upheavals, but not even Premier Duplessis of Quebec has undertaken to make treaties with foreign powers. Perhaps Ottawa should recognize the independence of the Six Nations confederacy; stop all allowances, pensions and grants; raise a tariff wall to protect Canadian agriculture . . . Alternatively, Canada might apply to join the confederacy as the seventh nation.

Most of its public men, after all, are already chiefs of one tribe or another. But it may be that no drastic change is required. Six Nations Indians have made their names in Canada’s armed forces, in literature and sports, in law and engineering. Most of them probably think they are as much Canadian as are Vancouverites, Ottawans, Cape Bretoners, or other breeds within the country.

Perhaps that is why the hereditary chiefs reject the ballot—lest the voters reject the chiefs.

(source: Link to Ottowa Citizen)