Brantford, March 6 (1959) — In a bloodless revolution, a new nation has been born within Canada’s borders.
No one knows how far they mean to go; but the 1,000 Six Nations Indians who took over control of their reserve at Ohsweken yesterday now declare they have formed a new independent country — the Grand River Country.
RCMP.officers stood by helplessly yesterday as the Indians marched on the council house and drove out the elected’ 12-man council, declaring them. “a bunch of traitors.” As the rebels battered down the front door, the councillors fled out the back.
The new council has already’ wired President Eisenhower, asking a March 19 meeting to discuss “treaties between our two nations.” A spokesman Wallace “Mad Bear” Anderson stated flatly the Indians would; appeal to the United Nations’ if Canada did not recognize the’ new regime.
Chief William Smith compared the uprising to the Cuban revolt. His expression masked, he told reporters: “We hope we won’t have to take the same, stern measures the Cuban rebels did.”
Enforce Own Law
In a proclamation dated March 5. the Indians declared “all authority, powers, responsibilities, duty and offices of governmental power” shall be vested In the Council of Chiefs. The proclamation stated the chiefs would enforce the law through Indian police, take over land titles and decide “membership” in the new country.
Yesterday’s rebellion had the drama of a page from history brought to life.
The rebels wore full regalia — feathered headdresses, buckskins and beads; and the plaintive sound of the tom-tom echoed In the background.
Chief Joseph Logan, 80, ousted In 1924, led the rebels into the battered council house. Why the 35-year wait for the revolution? Said Chief Joe Logan’ Jr.: “They all woke up at once”
The new country’s first judicial act had an almost comicopera atmosphere.
During the revolution, two visiting U.S. braves — perhaps overcome with a little too much “firewater”—had rammed a car li and a bridge on the resent with their wavering auto.
- Eight members of the chief’s 60-man police force carried them into the basement and linked them up on charges of drunk driving and resisting arrest. ‘
- Five hours later the sheep-tish culprits were brought to the bar of justice before 50 solemn costumed chiefs. After a stern lecture, they were allowed to go free.
- An Indian at the back of the room suggested the men. Newton Isaacs, 30, and Manny Miller, 35, were let off because there was no jail. The chiefs now claim the RCMP have no authority on the reserve.
Elected Council Flees
At exactly 10:30 yesterday morning, the ‘Warriors” hammered down the front door of the council house. The elected council, which had sat behind locked doors since 8:30. fled out the back as the battering started.
There were no reports of violence, but the crowd was in a tense mood after RCMP Sgt. W. A. Pritchett warned them not to enter the council house.
However, the young Warriors shouted “In we go.” The doors were down in two minutes and the hereditary chiefs entered the building for the first One since they had been ousted In 1924.
The hereditary council, backed by determined young Six Nations men surrounded by men, women and children, declared itself the new government in an eight-point proclamation. The document was read by Chief Sylvanus General on the steps of the council house, then nailed onto the door.
Chief Joe Logan Jr. said It was the strong new interest of the younger generation on the reserve that swung the balance of power.
30 Woman Police
After a reading of the proclamation the next act by the new council was to deputize another 50 police which brought the force up to the 100 mark.
Thirty of these are women. The chiefs and their peoples walked over to the community hall for a victory feast and celebration. Dancing and the singing of tribal songs continued into the night as they celebrated the successful overthrow of the elective system.
Ohsweken reserve is the whittled down remnant of a 700,000-acre grant along the Grand river which the British government gave to the Iroquois in 1784.
Most of the Indians who settled the original resent came to Canada when the American revolution split the Iroquois. or Six Nations confederacy.
The Oneida and part of the Tuscaroras took up the revolutionary cause but most of the nations, Cayugas, Mohawks, Onondagas and Senecas — remained loyal to the British flag and moved north into its protection after the revolution’s success.