Six Nations ’embassy’ set ablaze

Six Nations ’embassy’ set ablaze
Natives vow to rebuild Argyle Street structure

November 07, 2007
Paul Legall
The Hamilton Spectator
Caledonia (Nov 7, 2007)

Six Nations residents will be holding an old-fashioned building bee to replace a makeshift shelter at Douglas Creek Estates that was destroyed by an arsonist Monday night.

A piece of art commemorating native war veterans also vanished in the blaze shortly before midnight.

With the community pulling together, native leaders expect to have a new structure standing at the Argyle Street entrance by the weekend.

It’s believed someone either entered the unlocked building and ignited the blaze with gasoline or threw a firebomb inside before disappearing into the night. There was no one near the building at the time and the arsonist appears to have snuck in while the security guards were changing shifts.

Native spokesperson Bryan Skye said the vandalism has angered the community and could hamper current land claims negotiations between the Haudenosaunee Six Nations and the federal and provincial governments.

“It’s a major setback at the tables. The anger and frustrations that this cowardly act of violence against the Six Nations has caused will set us back in the progress we were making,” said Skye, who sits on the archeology and the public awareness and education side tables.

He said he’ll be raising the incident when talks resume next Tuesday. “We need answers.”

The one-storey uninsulated frame structure was constructed of particle board and was used as the cookhouse in the summer of 2006 when there were as many as 200 to 300 protesters occupying the former subdivision.

Natives have occupied the site since late February 2006, claiming the original sale of the land for a road was never legal.

In recent months, with only a skeleton security crew on duty, the structure was converted into a kind of reception centre at the Argyle Street entrance. With aboriginal flags fluttering overhead, it was the area where protesters met reporters, members of the public and even foreign dignitaries.

“The building was our embassy. It was where we’d meet and greet people and hold meetings. We had people from different countries visit us. It was our embassy that was destroyed as a result of arson,” Skye said.

The building had also housed a mural honouring native men and women who had served the Crown in foreign wars for more than 200 years. Six Nations artist Arnold Jacobs had donated the piece to be displayed at Kanonhstaton, as Douglas Creek Estates is now known among natives.

Six Nations Confederacy spokesperson Hazel Hill also condemned the vandalism. She called it “an attack on Kanonhstaton (the protected place) by Canadians who have disturbed the peace that Six Nations has been working so diligently to preserve.”

“It’s kind of ironic with Veterans’ Day just around the corner that a sign honouring veterans should be destroyed,” she added.

She’s confident, however, the community will rally together to build a new structure.

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