Since July 19, 2020, a few dozen Haudenosaunee Land Defenders have been holding a portion of their unceded territory where dozens of homes are to be constructed through an agreement between the local Band Council and a development company. Just over a dozen tents have been set up and a kitchen is now under construction, and the current residents have no intention of leaving. A garden has been planted in effort to make the land once again livable for those to whom the land is to be returned. A lacrosse game was organized as a collective practice in community care and care for the land to reiterate the people's uninterrupted connection to the land, despite the temporary destruction that has affected everyone. The land in question, consisting of two 6-mile long strips on either side of the Grand River, had been promised to Six Nations in 1784. This river runs through the centre of the Six Nations reserve and the neighbouring city of Caledonia, where 1535 Mackenzie Road has been renamed 1492 Land Back Lane in reference to the year that marks the first European invasions into Turtle Island. The Six Nations Band Council, which operates with one of the lowest rates of community consent in the country (4-5% of the population participate in Band Council elections), decided, in spite of popular opposition during consultations, to sell 252 acres of land to the company Foxgate Development in exchange for 43 acres and $350,000 (equivalent to the cost of one house at the time of sale). The Band Council may be the mode of government that is recognized by colonial Canadian law, but for the Haudenosaunee, political matters are carried out according to the actions of the people. As the media outlet One Dish, One Mic put it:
The Great Law of the Haudenosaunee is meant to be participatory. If people are acting in the best interests of the collective then the leadership structures in place are meant to follow the will of the people. When land defenders were arrested after the first of many dubious injunctions on August 5th hundreds of people risked their health and well being to support the reclamation team at 1492 Land Back Lane. The elected council is now supporting a moratorium on development on the unceded territories of the Six Nations people where they previously condemned the actions of the land defenders.
On August 5, the day an attempt was made to enforce the injunction mentioned above, about thirty vehicles that belong to the Ontario Provincial Police force (OPP) surrounded the encampment. The number of officers quickly doubled and they arrested 9 people who were holding and defending their land according to their traditional laws. Police fired rubber bullets on the site's residents, who responded with smoke signals and tire fires to block Highway 6 and a nearby rail line, alerting additional members of the community. According to the OPP, residents grouped together to repel police using projectiles. By the end of the day, 1492 Land Back Lane came back within the control of Land Defenders.
To help with legal and infrastructure costs for 1492 Land Back Lane, donate to : firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit 1492 Land Back Lane just past the corner of Mackenzie and Fuller in Caledonia: All are welcome who show up in a spirit of health and goodwill. This is a camp where drugs, alcohol and violence are prohibited – Be aware that your presence on the property could lead to your arrest or charges at any time.
For regular updates on events and calls for support, visit the facebook group: 1492 Land Back Lane.