The Haldimand Tract is a strip of land that runs the length of the Grand River that is 10km deep on each side. It was granted to the Six Nations Confederacy in recognition of their loyalty to the British Crown during the American Revolution. The Haldimand Tract is central to the ongoing land claims struggle of the Six Nations with the surrounding settler communities, provincial and federal governments.
In 1784, at the direction of the Crown, then Governor-in-Chief Sir Frederick Haldimand issued a decree granting the Tract to those Six Nations members who, as a result of the war between the British and the Americans, now found themselves on the American side of the border either with or without a settlement. This decree became known as the Haldimand Proclamation. The proclamation guaranteed the right of the Six Nations to live in safety within Crown controlled territory and transferred sole ownership of the Tract to the Six Nations in perpetuity.
The current Six Nations reserve covers only 50,000 acres, or approximately 5% of the original grant. Since the original 1784 Proclamation, the vast majority of the land was sold or otherwise illegally transferred to white settlers by the Crown (and subsequently the Canadian government) without the consent of the Six Nations confederacy. Since 1980, 29 claims have been filed with the federal government for small portions of the Tract.
Six Nations Reclamations
In early 2006, dismayed with the lack of success in negotiations and in the context of rapid development of land in the Caledonia area, the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory mounted a direct action to reclaim and halt the development of the Douglas Creek Estates subdivision. On February 28th, a blockade of the area and surrounding roads was mounted, garnering national attention and weeks of tension and standoffs with residents of the town of Caledonia and the Ontario Provincial Police. The blockade was also notable in that a large number of white aboriginal rights activists and allies came to the Caledonia area to support the action.
In the year following the beginning of the Reclamation, Ontario bought the Douglas Creek Esates from the developer, Henco Industries, for $1 million dollars. Negotiations surrounding the site and other areas of the Haldimand Tract continue on and off between the government and the Confederacy, although no resolution has been reached.