Grand River - Home and Native Land
Homestead of the Six Nations
After it lost the war with its rebellious Thirteen Colonies,
Great Britain rewarded the Iroquois First Nations, who had sided
with the British, a tract of land about seven kilometres wide
on either side of the Grand River.
The Iroquois First Nations, under Chief Thayendenaga (Joseph
Brant), had fought alongside the British because they were
well aware that the revolutionaries intended to expand into
their lands. Britain promised the Iroquois it would recognize
their ownership and prevent westward settlement.
Over the years most of the land grant was sold to speculators
who resold it to non-Native settlers. All that remains of the
original tract of land is about 18,000 hectares downstream
of Brantford. The challenge facing the Reserve residents is
to survive and thrive on a limited land area. Farming is still
important but no new land is being cleared for it.
The Six Nations population now numbers about 10,000 descendants
of the members of the old Iroquois Confederacy.
The Cayuga and Mohawk languages are taught in the Reserve's
elementary schools. Lacrosse, Canada's official national game,
is an Iroquois sport that is popular among young people. Traditional
skills of hunting, fishing and living off the land are still
being passed from generation to generation.
Six Nations Wildlife Management has assumed a role in caring
for the Grand River's more sluggish, lower reaches. Located
in the so-called economic Golden Triangle of southern Ontario,
the Reserve is vulnerable to toxic pollution from industry
in upstream cities such as Kitchener and Waterloo. Agricultural
pollutants include cattle feces, urine, fertilizers, and pesticides.
The Six Nations recently signed an agreement with neighbouring
municipalities that would notify all of them of any development
plans for the lower watershed of the Grand. Any community could
then express its concerns and influence the development plans.
Grand River (Adobe PDF document)
of Canada (All pages in a zipped file)