On Monday May 28th, members of Six Nations pulled out the surveying stakes of archeologists working for the multi-national corporation Samsung, who hopes to build a multi-billion dollar wind project in the area. The confrontation erupted following the multinational corporation's refusal to submit an application to the The Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), an arm of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, one of the competing entities that claims jurisdiction over the land.
"We are not against wind mills or renewable energy, we endorse and support it when done in a manner that complies with basic regulatory processes we have established" said Aaron Detlor, a representative of HDI.
Some Ontario environmentalists have expressed concern that members of Six Nations are opposing a project to create renewable energy.
"We can't apply our process selectively as it would make it impossible to deal with industry we have greater concerns with," said Detlor, pointing to a proposal by Enbridge that may bring tar sands oil through Six Nations land.
Samsung had previously refused to submit an application for the project and pay a $7,000 application fee. However, following the confrontation Samsung did submit the application and payment, according to the Toronto Sun.
Samsung asked for the lifting of a cease and desist order placed on the project by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Counci. However, HDI has indicated that it needs to take time to process the application and have the matter brought before the chiefs.
Not everyone acknowledges HDI's jurisdiction to approve or deny development projects. The Toronto Sun referred to them as "native dissidents", explaining that Six Nations' elected band council has already expressed its approval for Samsung's proposed project.
The divergent views point to the complex politics of Six Nations. A traditional government has existed for over a thousand years, and in 1924 the federal government imposed a band council system. Both systems of government claim legitimacy.
The conflict in the community was recently inflamed when elected Band Council Chief Bill Montour said he would call in the OPP if protestors stopped work on Samsung's project.
HDI also claims jurisdiction to lands over which Ontario and several municipalities claim competing jurisdiction.
According to HDI, they had previously raised $800 million in equity funding and approached Samsung with the offer to share revenues on the project. They had asked for 1.5% of energy sales, a percentage the province has developed for revenue sharing projects with First Nations.
"We tried to create revenue sharing with Samsung and the province as a way of dealing with the regulatory process - however they refused to deal in good faith on the issue," explained Detlor.
Detlor said he wanted environmentalists who are concerned with the actions of HDI to realize this is an archeological issue.
"An archeological issue is different than a wind mill issue, it is digging up our ancestor remains without permission."
Samsung was asked for comment on May 29th but did not respond.