I'll try to be brief.
Since the beginning of contact Six Nations (Originally 5 Nations) wedged themselves between the British, French and other First Nations to arise as brokers and negotiators. They fostered and negotiated a number of pre Royal Proclamation 1763 treaties which set the stage for the future of British / Six Nations relationships.
1656 Six Nations enters into the One Spoon One Bowl treaty with the Mississauga after the remnants of the last Wendat fled southern Ontario. The Wendat, Petun and Tiontiata Nations had been decimated by small pox and other diseases introduced into their communities by French missionaries and traders. Of those that survived the majority fled to Quebec City with the French while the balance of the survivors fled to Michigan...known as the Beaver Hunting Grounds.
1684 Howard Treaty - Provided Six Nations clear passage through all territory into Canada for trade and guarantee the British would keep the Algonquin out of New England. (Establish the term "sovereign protection"
In 1701 Six Nations brokered the surrender of about 800 square miles of land consisting of lands in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan. Six Nations complained that since they took over the former Wendat territories in Southern Ontario, hunting and trapping in the Beaver hunting grounds became nearly impossible being harassed by the Wendat any time the went to Michigan to hunt. So they negotiated with other nations under their confederacy umbrella and decided to give up Michigan to the British in return for protection of their Ontario lands and the British promises to guard their trading routes into New England.
Despite common myth no part of Ontario or Quebec was sold to the British under Nafan. Keep this in mind as we move upward in history...
In 1710 the British and Six Nations formalized the Silver Covenant Chain Treaties which set out to protect and advance each others' interest in peaceful and co-operative way.
By mid 18th century the western US frontier was expanding at a rapid pace. In 1722 the British had made a number of guarantees that they would not allow expansion of their colonies west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A number of other treaties provide promise that later show up in the text of the Royal Proclamation 1763.
In 1754 the British approached Six Nations to have them surrender more land west of the Allegany River, breaking a promise not to expand their colonies into Six Nations territory. A number of First Nations that Six Nations was representing were incensed that the British would go back on their word - something regarded in Haudenosaunee culture as sacred. Reluctantly however, In the Treaty of Loggstown 1764, Six Nations was able to convince the other Nations to surrender one more tract of land on the east side of the Ohio River with promises that no more land would be sought. Six Nations presented an ultimatum to the British that if expansion were to occur on the frontier, it would be met with war taken out aginst the settlers and they would burn their villages.
In 1757 the King commissioned the Mitchell Map identifying North America as it stood. What is significant is that the Map clearly identifies what is southern Ontario south of the Ottawa River as Six Nations territory.
In 1763 the King issues his Royal Proclamation outlining the boundaries of His 4 Colonies, and prescribing that Indian Land was off limits to settlement or purchase. Again despite popular myth, the Proclamation did not touch on Canada considering that the British believed it was a wasteland inhabited by various natives friendly and unfriendly. Their only interest in Canada was limited to Quebec surrendered by France in the Treaty of Paris of that same year. The Royal Proclamation 1763 defines the legal relationship we have with Six Nations, having not only full regard for their land and possession, but their laws and customs.
At the end of the American Revolution Six Nations were under pressure in New York as having being accused of siding with the British. However the official position of Six Nations Confederacy was that they were neutral. Each nation in the Confederacy were free to side with any party and some help the Americans while others helped advance the British. In 1774 the British issued the Quebec Act in an attempt to maintain control over the Ohio frontier and that quickly escallated into war. However, in the 1776 Jeffries Map it clearly shows that the British regarded Southern Ontario as Six Nations territory.
At the end of the Revolution Six Nations petitioned the British to set certain tracts in Ontario for their exclusive use, matching the previous deals they had in Ohio and New York. In 1783 the British offer them a tract of land some 300 miles wide and 300 miles northward centering on the Bay of Quinte Region in Southern Ontario. A group of Mohawks following Joseph Brant and John Deseronto visited the area and found the land full of barren rock and infertile soils and declared in unacceptable for habitation. Instead Joseph Brant insisted that their lands along the Grand River be protected against settlement and Governor Haldimand reluctantly agreed.
Under the One Spoon Two Bowls Treaty with the Mississauga. a number of Mississauga had set up camp in the region and Brant thought it only fair for the British to offer them some compensation for their displacement. A meeting at Burington between Haldimand, Brant and a number of Chiefs and the Mississauga broked compensation and the Mississauga returned back to the North Shore of Superior.
In 1784 Joseph Brant took possession of the Haldimand Tract - six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to ist source comprising some 980,000 acres. However, dissention between the traditional people and non-traditional people took its toll and John Deseronto led a number of Mohawks back to the Quinte Region claiming over 100,000 acres for their enjoyment. Later in 1793 John Graves Simcoe attempted to issue his Simcoe Patent reducing the territory to 40,000 acres.
What is important to note is that under the Royal Proclamation 1763 patents could no longer be issued for land unilaterally and that any surrender required not only the full and free consent of the Chiefs of any nation but also of the people and any surrender was required to comply fully with the laws and customs of the nation. The Supreme Court of Canada went on to identify 10 tests in the Chippewas of Sarnia v. Canada that must be present in any surrender, failing which invalidates the surrender. The Simcoe Patent violates these tests.
Throughout history since then, there have been a number of activities between the government of the day and Six Nations and Mohawks Councils from the Grand River and Quinte. There were also a number of other recognized Mohawk territories that were never in dispute. However, the government of the day influenced and controlled by a group known as the Family Compact set out to ignore the Proclamations and laws, and take land in any way they could from First Nations. Both Six Nations of the Grand and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte territory was seriously reduced - illegally - during this period. Many of the present day lands claims stem from this period.
What isn't wide knowledge is that during the pre-proclamation treaty periods Six Nations was receiving payments and land surrenders payments from the British who convinced them to secure the funds with the British to be held in trust in perpetuity. According to Six Nations accountants this resulted in a fund that is worth over $1trillion today, given the lease payments, rentals and compounded interest promised to Six Nations by the Crown. The annual interest today equals more than $20 billion - enough not only to pay the entire AAND budget and all First Nation transfers. In the scheme of things despite earning $20 billion a year the annual funding of Six Nations and Tyendinaga falls short of $3500 per person which is more 50% of the per capita funding of the average small town in Ontario. Requests to access the trust and interest has been denied by the government and despite the Supreme Court ruling that First Nations are entitled to manage their own trust accounts, the government has yet to comply.
The other twist is that according to the rules of the Royal Proclamation 1763 confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, Six Nations / Mohawks still have a sovereign claim over all southern Ontario. No part has ever been surrendered and Six Nations legally must be consulted over any development or use. The estimated cost of settling this claim would be estimated to be between $75 and $100 trillion - an impossible sum - calculated according to the manner set out by the Supreme Court of Canada (using the lower of the fair market value at the time the land was illegally occupied, with compounded interest set out year to year by an Order in Council, plus a one time loss of use payment multiplied by the number of years they were displaced OR by using fair market value at the time of settlement). In an offer of settlement Six Nations proposed that the Government of Canada and Six Nations enter into a perpetual care agreement which would see Canada footing the bill for Six Nations forever. That has been rejected so far by Canada.
Small land claims like at Caledonia and Deseronto are just a small fraction of the number of othe more complex claims. Canada not only owes Six Nations /Mohawks a legal duty but a financial one as well, being responsible through their trust for the infrastructure care and services required by Six Nations people. These are not taxpayer funds but trust interest payable by Canada as trustee of that account. The legal duty has been ignored by Canada with much of the same kinds of thinking from the Family Compact movement now showing up in the ranks of the Conservative government.
In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People predicted that is Canada did not take far and honourable action to satisfy outstanding First Nations claims, frustration and youthful unrest would cause an escalation of violence as First Nations blockaded lands and prevented development. While Oka and Ipperwash went a long way to demonstrate that prophesy, in 20 years the government is still no further ahead than when the RCAP was published. Largely that report has been ignored. However, it seems that there will be continued protest and reclamation of disputed lands, all of which is increasingly supported by the courts in our future. The best thing for Canada is to deal openly and honestly with our past and make sure that before we criticize the Mohawks, or people of any First Nation, we have clean hands and walked a mile in their moccasins.
In June 2010 the Queen of Canada presented the Chiefs of Six Nations and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte each with 8 silver hand bells in commemoration of the Silver Covenant Chain Treaty - 300 years of Peace and Friendship. This is an indication at the highest level that the Crown still considers Six Nations / Mohawks as allies (and not subjects) of the Crown. The government better catch on.....