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We are publishing our press release dated July 11, 2022 that provides detailed information about our plans and our media platform, including our Journal. our main focus has always been to restore the Haldimand Tract to its rightful owners. We have already begun this process and we are now ready to announce it. Read Press Release

The Pros and Cons of Taxing Mohawk and Restoring the Haldimand Treaty

For over three hundred years, the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy have been occupying lands in what is now southern Ontario, alongside the Grand River and the former Brantford Township. While this treaty right has been long established, there are still several ongoing disputes between Six Nations and various provincial municipalities surrounding the question of taxation of Mohawk Indians living on the reserve lands (i.e., tax exemption). This blog post will present both sides of this issue in an effort to provide understanding and insight into this very controversial topic.

A Proposal to End Taxing Grand River Mohawk Indians

The Grand River is the traditional territory of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the Haudenosaunee. The Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 awarded this land to the Iroquois people, and it was reaffirmed in the Jay Treaty of 1794 between Great Britain and the United States. In 1824, the British government passed the Indian Act, which recognized that Mohawks were not conquered people and had a treaty right to their land. However, since 1869, provincial municipalities have been taxing Grand River Mohawk Indians for property located within their boundaries. This has led to protests and court challenges by the Mohawk people.

There are pros and cons to ending this taxation practice. One major pro is that it would restore the validity of the Haldimand Treaty by ending such taxes. On the other hand, there would be costs associated with this action, such as reimbursing monies collected over time and paying out refunds to those who have paid taxes in good faith. To ensure transparency, all records should be maintained so that any potential future disputes can be resolved. It's important to remember that this tax is used for municipal services such as fire protection, public transportation, and policing - all things needed by residents of both rural and urban areas alike.

However,  on balance, I believe the benefits outweigh the cost. Ending taxation on Grand River Mohawks would restore recognition of their rights under historic treaties and affirm Canada’s commitment to upholding its legal obligations. Furthermore, some argue that taxing the Mohawk nation is discriminatory because it does not allow for exemptions for Aboriginal groups on reserves or First Nation band councils elsewhere in Canada where exemptions do exist. 

If Canadians want fairness and equality for all, then it's crucial to consider how the exemptions make up two tiers of citizenship based on race. For these reasons, I propose an amendment to the Indian Act prohibiting Provincial governments from imposing local taxation on Mohawk territories. Such revenue will instead come directly from Ottawa and will reimburse the provinces for any expenses incurred in the past related to the taxation of these lands. All federal revenues will be reinvested into Mohawk-owned businesses or community projects to support our goal of economic self-sufficiency and sustainable development. There are several possible objections to my proposal: 

First, opponents may say that withdrawing the exemption for aboriginal communities violates treaties and agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But NAFTA does not supersede national law; rather, it recognizes countries' ability to regulate activities in accordance with national laws. Thus, if a change is made here at home, NAFTA cannot challenge it. Secondly, opponents may say that we should deal with Mohawk's claims through negotiation or litigation. That is not realistic in the short term, given the slow pace of negotiations and lack of success on this front. Thirdly, they might say that Mohawk people already pay property taxes on their homes, businesses, and income. That is true but this refers to non-Mohawk taxation only. Finally, they might argue that stopping taxation will stop investment in the area.

However, this argument is flawed because, as Grand River Mohawks, we are not asking for investment. Rather, we are requesting to be treated with dignity and respect by having the same rights as all other treaty people.

When it comes to Aboriginal people in Canada, these taxes have a different purpose and serve different purposes than what is normally understood. It's often used as a method of controlling our lives. 

How Other Countries Are Treating Their Indigenous Populations

In the United States, Native Americans are subject to both federal and state taxes. The same is true for Canada's First Nations people. However, in Australia, the Aboriginal population is exempt from paying taxes to the government. New Zealand has a similar system in place for its Maori population.

So, what's the best way to tax indigenous populations? Why not make it so that these groups don't have to pay any tax at all if they're already having enough trouble just trying to survive? They continue to be occupied by alien forces who claim them as their own but then get no offsets because they refuse to accept that we were here first.

They refuse to acknowledge the Mohawk liberation movement which was borne out of Indigenous resistance during the years when we had no choice but to fight back or die. Those long battles made us stronger as individuals and communities.

We fought our way into academia, finally occupying spaces that were denied to us in traditional education systems. And now we are even more active than ever before with students on every campus across this country engaged in land-based education initiatives like Idle No More. If there is one thing Indigenous peoples know how to do well, it perseveres. It takes strength to maintain the identity and connection to culture that others seem determined to strip away from us, but we've managed to keep those things close despite everything.

That being said, should provincial municipalities start taxing Mohawk Indians within their borders? Well, let's see what kind of pros and cons come with such an action. Firstly, many believe that taxation would help to eliminate poverty among Indian populations. There would also be the added benefit of new job opportunities for those living in rural areas without employment opportunities.

Additionally, it would mean greater access to health care and other important social services. On the other hand, many worry about increased policing costs and potential conflict between different ethnicities. At the end of the day, some might say that taxation could cause more problems than it solves. What do you think? Is taxation a good idea? 

If so, what steps should the governments take to ensure that it doesn't worsen relations between marginalized populations and dominant cultures? Should they implement special taxes to promote education and equal opportunity, or abolish the tax altogether to show respect and trust? These are questions worth asking.

Why This May Not be Ideal - An Argument Against Mohawk Indian Taxes

The Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 set aside six miles on each side of the Grand River for the use of the Six Nations. The reserve was to be held in trust for the Iroquois as a place to live and hunt. The Iroquois were not conquered people and, as such, were not subject to Canadian law. However, because they are considered sovereign nations, they are not required to pay taxes. 

Furthermore, many feel that if this goes into effect then it is merely another way to colonize them or take their rights away from them. It's been debated that it would infringe on their treaty rights as well as their self-determination (because when you have no choice but to pay taxes).   

If someone does want to exercise these treaty rights there is nothing stopping them from moving off the reservation (to an area where taxes are applied) so that they can exercise these treaty rights. But the majority of people do not want to exercise these treaty rights and instead choose to stay within the reservation. They cannot work in their community anymore due to taxation being imposed upon them and must find work elsewhere - just like any other person living outside a province municipality who cannot afford living expenses. Some individuals say if I want to exercise my treaty rights, I should move. Others will say I shouldn't have to leave my home. I should be able to exercise my treaty rights wherever I please. 

Regardless of what options one chooses, both options impose a burden on oneself financially as well as emotionally (in regards to separating from family). If we keep following this path with more attempts at colonization,  it could lead to mohawk liberation movements. Treaty right infringement is never justified. Self-determination and exercising treaty rights need to happen without external pressure forcing us out of our homes.

The tax is meant to force people to exercise their treaty rights. There has been no thought given by those imposing the tax about what consequences come from doing so; how it impacts us as individual communities and how much it hinders our growth.  Yes, it would generate revenue which may seem beneficial in the short term but in the long term, what costs are incurred? Forcing others to exercise their treaty rights is an exercise of power over others. Let's look at these issues from different perspectives: Should provincial municipalities tax Mohawk Indians? Yes/No 

Whether you agree with exercising treaty rights and self-determination or not, taxing others for exercising their legal rights sets a dangerous precedent. Not only does it negatively impact provincial municipalities economically but also reduces support for future Indigenous initiatives.

What do Grand River Mohawks have to say about taxation?

The Grand River Mohawks are a band of the Mohawk nation who live in the Haldimand Tract, which is land that was granted to them by the British Crown in the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784. As a result, the Grand River Mohawks have a treaty right to live on this land. They also argue that they are not required to pay taxes to provincial municipalities because they are unconquered people living on territory acquired by treaty.

There have been many different views on whether or not to tax the Grand River Mohawks, but it seems like all of these views can be summed up into two categories: those who feel that they should be taxed as regular residents and those who feel they should be exempt from taxation due to their treaty rights as a native people with occupied land. Those who believe they should be taxed as regular residents say that since they were part of Canada before its annexation, they deserve to be treated just like any other Canadian citizen (Eades).

Those who say that they should not have to pay taxes because their lands were occupied by alien forces say that if they had been properly defeated in war then no one would question the legitimacy of taxing them. It is said that more than 300 treaties were signed between Europeans and Indigenous Peoples throughout North America, yet we know for sure about three hundred years ago there were 500 Mohawk villages stretching from coast to coast in what we now call Quebec, Ontario, and New York State.

Since the signing of the proclamation of 1784, these lands that were once free have become occupied by alien forces. In 2007, with support from experts such as anthropologist Harold C. Fleming and lawyer Donald Stewart Jr., Mohawk Liberation proposed restoring the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 so that our people will regain title to our promised homeland here in Oniateriio.

Though some Canadians may see this proposal as unfair, especially considering how much compensation has already been given to natives who lost their lands through treaties, Mohawk Liberation believes that it's time to stop treating natives in this country like children. If the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 is restored, revenue from property taxes will go towards funding the education and health care needs of the Grand River Mohawks rather than going to benefit those outside interests.

The supporters of Mohawk Liberation ask Canadians to try to understand where we're coming from and think about what it would mean for native communities around Canada if their hard-won charter rights are stripped away when treaties are ignored or deemed unenforceable by higher courts. Furthermore, opponents of Mohawk Liberation must consider the fact that the restoration of the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 is necessary because government funds used to maintain infrastructure in the occupied area are only provided based on traditional political boundaries which include houses belonging to non-Mohawks while excluding those belonging to Mohawks.

If the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784 is restored, Mohawks in the Haldimand Tract will finally have a fair chance at spatial equality.  To end taxing Mohawks in the Haldimand Tract, despite the issue of tax avoidance, is a way to ensure that both groups get what they want.   

Mohawks in the Haldimand Tract are striving to improve their quality of life and make up for the neglect they have experienced in their communities, and their white counterparts are helping to do this. By doing this, the Mohawks in the Haldimand Tract are showing that they are responsible and honest, as well as generous and caring of their community. This is a very important aspect to take into consideration because the current economic downturn is not only affecting those without money; it is affecting everyone in society.

Because of this, Mohawks in the Haldimand Tract are trying to contribute by taking on jobs they previously didn't have access to. Mohawks in the Haldimand Tract are also rebuilding the shattered ties that have existed for centuries, and this is an accomplishment that should be acknowledged. For these reasons, it is essential to restore the Haldimand Proclamation of 1784.

Some Solutions To This Issue

  1. The provincial government could create a special tax exemption for urban Indians. 
  2. They could also allow off-reserve Mohawk to self-determine their own taxation. 
  3. The government could also formalize a policy that says no taxation without representation. 
  4. If the government does not want to do any of these things, they could try to negotiate with the Mohawk nation to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. 
  5. As far as I know, there is no precedent for this issue. 
  6. It is unclear whether or not the crown has been paying attention to this issue. 
  7. The best-case scenario would be if Mohawks are exempt from taxes and/or can have some kind of self-determination on taxation issues within municipalities.
  8. Worst case scenario is if they do not have any kind of exemption or self-determination.

By Benjamin Doolittle UE · July 5, 2022 · Comments: 0 · RSS · Permalink

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