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Six Nations of the Grand River

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Six Nations of the Grand River

Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation
Indian reserve
Six Nations Indian Reserve
Six Nations is located in Ontario
Six Nations
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Formed 1784
 • Chief Ava Hill
 • Federal riding Brant
 • Prov. riding Brant
 • Land 183.20 km2 (70.73 sq mi)
Population (August 2012)[2]
 • Total 12,100
 • Density 64.8/km2 (168/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal Code N0A
Area code(s) 519 and 226

Six Nations (or Six Nations of the Grand River) is the largest First Nation reserve in Canada with a total of 25,660 members. Some 12,271 are reported living on this reserve.[2] It is the only reserve in North America that has all six Iroquois nations living together. These nations are the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora. There are also some Delaware living in the territory.

The Six Nations reserve is bordered by the County of Brant, city of Brantford, ON, Norfolk County, Haldimand County,and has a subsection reservation, the New Credit Reserve located within it boundaries.The acreage at present covers some 46,000 acres (190 km2) near the city of Brantford, Ontario. This represents approximately 5% of the original 950,000 acres (3,800 km2) of land granted to the Six Nations by the 1784 Haldimand Treaty.[3]


  • History 1
  • Communities 2
  • Members 3
  • Government 4
  • People 5
  • See also 6
  • Footnotes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Many of the Iroquois people allied with the British during the American Revolutionary War, particularly from the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga and Seneca nations. Some warriors of the Oneida and Tuscarora also allied with them, as warfare was highly decentralized. These nations had longstanding trade relations with the British and hoped they might stop European-American encroachment on their territories. These allies were from the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. After the colonists' victory, the British government ceded all of its territory in the colonies, including that belonging to the Six Nations and without consulting them or making them party to treaty negotiations. It worked to resettle native Loyalists in Canada and provide some compensation for properties lost in the new United States. The Crown also hoped to use these new settlers, both Native Americans and European Americans, to develop more towns and agriculture in areas west of Quebec, the territory later known as Upper Canada. This is a controversial area. The Six Nations were feared warriors fighting in unconventional but successful tactics more common in modern military. There are documented instances,Stony Creek being one,where the non native Militia simply ran or cowered in fear of an encounter on the battlefield. The map of the lands granted to six nations reserves are all near all of the important Canadian military targets. Conveniently placed along the border to prevent any American invasion. The six nations people were also hampered in the growing of a community. Lands especially in the 17th and 18th granted a certain measure of power. influential leaders like Brant and Deseronto were prevented from granting land to business owners who could bring industry and agriculture to the lands there were granted. Rules and laws were created to prevent these men from continuing to grow political support by banning all non natives from living and owning any business on reserves. Many complained much of lands granted were clay and rock ridden,making the land untenable. The premise that Canada wanted to have the reservations can be seen as untrue based on historical events ..

After the war, the Mohawk leaders John Deseronto and Joseph Brant met with the British officer Frederick Haldimand to discuss the loss of their lands in New York. Haldimand promised to resettle the Mohawk near the Bay of Quinte, on the northeast shore of Lake Ontario, in present-day Ontario, Canada. Haldimand purchased from other First Nations a tract 12 by 13 miles (21 km) on the Bay of Quinte, which he granted to the Mohawk. (There are of course questions about First Nations understanding of such purchase. As the First Nations of Canada do not believe you can own the earth or sky, this land was most likely just taken, like most other lands of North America, by "Christian Doctrine of Discovery" (a 'premise' that also served to remove lands from any Indigenous people worldwide; the papal bull basically states that only Christians can own land, regardless if there are any natives already living there). About 200 Mohawk settled with Deseronto at what is now called the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario. The group of Mohawk originally led by John Deseronto, who died in the town named after him, settled on the Bay of Quinte known as “Tyendinaga”. These were primarily Mohawk of the Lower Castle (of New York).

Brant decided that he preferred to settle on the Grand River. Mohawk of the Upper Castle joined him in settling on the Grand River, as did bands of the other Six Nations. By the Haldimand Proclamation of October 25, 1784, the government granted a reserve of land to the Mohawk Nation and Six Nations bands in appreciation of their support for The Crown during the revolution. Joseph Brant led a large group of Iroquois to settle in what is now referred to as “Six Nations of the Grand River.”

A 1785 census recorded 1,843 Natives living on the Grand River reserve, including 448 Mohawk, 381 Cayuga, 245 Onondaga, 162 Oneida, 129 Tuscarora, and 78 Seneca. There were also 400 from other tribes, including Delaware (Lenape), and others from southern territory, such as the Nanticoke, Tutelo, and some Creek and Cherokee.[4] Joseph Brant invited several Anglo-American white families to live on the grant, particularly former members of Brant's Volunteers and Butler's Rangers from New York, with whom he had fought during the war. To encourage his loyalist friends to settle there, Brant gave them larger grants than the government had given other loyalists in other areas of Upper Canada. Some of the Non Natives objected to Brant giving such land grants to whites in this reserve area. This was the beginning of the attempts to curtail any growth Brant may secure for his people.q

The Indian department provided the Aboriginals with some tools and other provisions for resettlement, including such items as saws, axes, grindstones, and chisels. They received help in establishing schools and churches, and in acquiring farm equipment and other necessities. Conditions were extremely difficult in the first years on the frontier, as the government did not provide enough supplies or assistance to any of the resettled loyalists, neither Native Americans nor European Americans. They had to create new settlements out of woodlands. In 1785, the government built the first Protestant church in Upper Canada (now Ontario) on the reserve; it was known as Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks. The Crown maintained its support of this chapel, and it is among only twelve Chapels Royal in the world.

The main town developed at what is now Brantford. It was first called Brant's Town after Joseph Brant, who built his residence there. In 1798, it was described as a large and sprawling settlement. Brant's home was a handsome two-story house, built in a European-American style. In 1797, Brant founded one of the earliest Masonic Lodges in Upper Canada; he was its Worshipful Master.

Governor John Simcoe confirmed the Grant with a limited deed on January 14, 1793. This deed did not extend to the source of the Grand River, territory to which the Six Nations have maintained they were entitled as described in the earlier Haldimand Proclamation. Also, this deed forbade them to sell the land to anyone but each other and the king. Led by Joseph Brant, the chiefs rejected the deed. In 1795, the Grand River chiefs empowered Joseph Brant to sell large blocks of land in the northern section, which the Aboriginals were not using. They set terms of no money down because they wanted to take their payment entirely in future years as annual interest. At this time, the population on the reserve was declining as Aboriginals left the Grand River for traditional native communities in New York. After Brant's land sales started in 1795, the population began to increase again, as he and the chiefs insisted on annuities to help the Six Nations community survive.

According to the Haldimand Proclamation, the original tract of land stretched from the mouth of the Grand River on the shores of Lake Erie to the river's head, and for 10 km (6 mi) from either bank. Between 1795 and 1797, Joseph Brant sold 381,480 acres (1,543.8 km2) to land speculators; the property comprising the northern half of the reserve was sold for £85,332. This was the highest price paid to Aboriginals up to this time for undeveloped land.

Chiefs of the Six Nations explaining their wampum belts to Horatio Hale, 1871

Governor Simcoe opposed the land sales. The interest on the annuity promised an income to the people of £5,119 per year, far more than any other Iroquois people had received. The land speculators were unable to sell farm-size lots to settlers fast enough. By 1801, however, all the land speculators had fallen behind in their payments. Because of the lack of payments, Brant was determined to sell more land to make up for the missing payments.

In 1796, Lord Dorchester issued another deed for the land. This empowered the Aboriginals to lease or sell their land provided they offered it first for sale to the government. Brant rejected this deed partly because the deed named the Six Nations as communal owners of the land. He believed the deed should be limited to the current persons living on the land.

By 1800, two-thirds of the Aboriginals had not adapted to the style of subsistence agriculture, maintained by separate households, that the Canadian government encouraged. Brant had hoped that sales of land to European Americans would help them develop the frontier, but conditions were difficult for such agriculture.

In 1828, chief John Brant was appointed resident superintendent for the Six Nations of the Grand River.

The Six Nations people were originally given 10 km on either side of the entire length of the Grand River, although much of the land was later sold. The current reserves encompass 184.7 km2 (71 sq mi), all but 0.4 km2 in Six Nations reserve No. 40.


Several named communities exist within the Six Nations reserve:

  • Beavers Corner
  • Longboat Corners
  • Medina Corners
  • Ohsweken
  • St. Johns
  • Sixty-Nine Corners
  • Smith Corners
  • Smoothtown
  • Sour Spring
  • Stoneridge


They later welcomed to the reserve a group of Delaware, who speak Munsee (Lenape), an Algonquian language.

Six Nations of the Grand River is the most populous reserve in Canada. As of December 2013, there were 25,660 band members, of which 12,271 lived on the reserve. The population consists of the following bands:[5]

Nation Band Name Total On reserve
Iroquois Bay of Quinte Mohawk 740 326
Tuscarora 2,130 973
Oneida 1,999 758
Onondaga Clear Sky 778 429
Bearfoot Onondaga 601 238
Upper Cayuga 3,503 1,431
Lower Cayuga 3,538 2,213
Konadaha Seneca 533 200
Niharondasa Seneca 368 161
Lower Mohawk 4,016 2,054
Walker Mohawk 485 298
Upper Mohawk 6,018 2,857
Algonquin Delaware 617 236*
total 25,385 12, 175

* not mentioned in Marcy 2013 statistics.


The reserve has both a traditional Iroquois council of chiefs and an elected band council conforming to Canadian law.


See also


  1. ^ "Six Nations of the Grand River". First Nation Profiles. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  2. ^ a b Six Nations of the Grand River - Monthly Membership Statistics
  3. ^ Paxton PhD, James W. (2008). Joseph Brant and His World: 18th Century Mohawk Warrior and Statesman. James Lorimer & Company Ltd. 
  4. ^ Kelsay pg. 370
  5. ^ Monthly Membership Statistics As of the end of Ganesgwaotago (PDF) (Report). Six Nations of the Grand River. March 2013. 


  • Graymont, Barbara, The Iroquois in the American Revolution, 1972, ISBN 0-8156-0083-6
  • Kelsay, Isabel, Joseph Brant 1743-1780 Man of Two Worlds, 1984, ISBN 0-8156-0182-4
  • Taylor, Alan, The Divided Ground, 2006, ISBN 0-679-45471-3

External links

  • Six Nations of the Grand River website
  • Six Nations Tourism
  • Chiefswood National Historic Site
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