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Six Nations confronts Samsung's energy project

Confederacy call on supporters to help enforce cease and desist order

by Tim Groves

Photo from recent march to build solidarity between six nations and non-native supporters
Photo from recent march to build solidarity between six nations and non-native supporters

Members of Six Nations have called upon supporters to join them on May 29th in blocking a multi- billion dollar renewable energy windmill project being planned by Samsung. The multi-national Corporation did not receive permission from the traditional Haudenosaunee government in Six Nations to proceed with the project.

Development of the project had been stopped since Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, the traditional leadership body of the Six Nations people, issued a cease and desist order in November 2011. However last week Samsung announced they would proceed with the project. Before they can begin construction they must conduct an archaeological survey. Work on this survey recommenced today, with a team of about 60 people working on the survey. 

Approximately 30 members of Six Nations attended the site and confronted the archaeological team.  Only after surveying stakes were pulled from the ground did the archaeological teams leave the area. However they pledged to resume work, on Tuesday the 29th. 

The Ontario Provincial Police are currently on the site.

"The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council is calling for all Haudenosaunee people and their allies to come together and to make Samsung and the archaeologists working for them respect the 'cease and desist' order" reads an email message put out by solidarity activists.

"You have this big movement fighting against the 1%, Samsung is that 1%" said Wes Elliot a member of Six Nations, who was speaking to 30 people who gathered at an event on building relationships between Six Nations  and non-native people in Southern Ontario.

He urged supporters to join them at the site the next day. 

"You have all these people talking on the Internet. If you actually want to do something then come down and help."

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, has been in contact with Samsung since 2009 in relation to the project, however the corporation refuses to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

The Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), an arm of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, had informed Samsung that they would be required to fill in a paper work on the impacts of their project and pay a $7,000 application fee. 

However both Samsung and the Ontario government asked HDI to change the name from an application fee, as that name would acknowledge the jurisdiction of the confederacy over the land. HDI refused to change the name.

Samsung had one sit down meeting with HDI, but has since then opted to dealing only with the Six Nation band council.

Elliot explained to the Toronto Media Coop why the Band Council is not the representative of Six Nations. 

"The elected council in our territory is supported by about 4% of people evidenced by the amount of people who vote in elections. The Band Council is a creature of the Indian Act, created in our territory in 1924, our confederacy is over 1500 - 2000 years old".

The proposed development would take place in the area included in a 1701 treaty between the Six Nations Confederacy and the Crown. 

 

Supporters interested in attending the protest can contact april28info@gmail.com


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Tim Groves (Tim Groves)
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Comments

it is most unfortunate that

it is most unfortunate that the Six Nations and HDI have chosen to fight the wrong battle.  Inhibiting a large renewable energy project keeps coal as a source of energy in the province which contributes drastically to climate change. Climate change causing suffering world wide.

While I support First Nations treaty rights i cannot support any person who chooses to prevent the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

 

This is the wrong battle Six Nations, you need to let this project go ahead and focus on the actual problem: the fossil fuel industry

 

we need more wind and solar energy production, and less people saying they don't want it in their back yard, whether those people are First Nations or not

I wonder what this means in

I wonder what this means in terms of renewable energy, I have full solidarity in this case with the Six Nations.  Renewable energy is about conserving energy, unlike large scale power production, decentralized energy curbs consumption and puts the power back in the people's hands.  NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) is often invoked to disuade people from engaging with LULUs (locally-unwanted-land-uses), and in doing so environmental justice is undermined, the point is that if it is not suitable for someone's backyard, it isn't suitable for anyone's backyard, and in this case of Six Nations, it is in total disrespect to renewable energy to use it as another justification to disrespect indiegnous sovereignty.

-Zach Ruiter, Anti-Nuclear Pro-renewable energy activist with SAGE (Safe and Green Energy Petebrorough)

questions...

Why the HDI is opposing the project? Surely the HDI recognize the need and opportunity for renewable energy to replace fossil fuels and nuclear. Samsung is the 1%, but they're kickstarting the renewable energy age, and for that I'm grateful. With their massive investments, prices are coming down drastically which will open the door for small scale industry and community based distributed generation. I'd like to know what the nature of their opposition is. And why is the Band Council supporting the project? Jobs? Money? Will the HDI also benefit? I'm left with lots of questions.

thanks for the piece

thanks for the piece Tim!

 

to the enviros:

the HDI is demanding recognition and consultation, they are not necessarily  against the project, they are against the process.    the nature of their opposition is among other thigns the lack of Free, prior, and informed consent of the traditional people of the band, (as opposed to the imposed band council elected by 10% of the community).

 

industrial sized energy wind/solar projects are not the solution to the woes of this society/civilisation, and building a "sustainable future" by following the same forms of dispossession, through not consulting the Haudenosaunee and disrespecting treaty obligations is a sure way to rebuild and equally oppressive and destructive society.

 

we can't be green capitalists and survive, we dont have to allow industry to bully people.  if you want small scale solar, go out and pay for it (as doing the right thing is not cheap), samsung is not kick starting anything, they are just a corporation looking to profit of of technology.  do not put so called environmental concerns over the rights of the Haudenosaunee to sovereignty.

 

if you want to stop the coal plants, other than teaming up with a capitalist corporate giant, just go SHUT THEM DOWN with DA, or as Zach said, work on conservation - the industrial age needs to end now and fast before too many more tipping points are reached and we start to experience more of the catastrophic system transformations which we are now seeing in unpredicatable weather patterns and shifts in climate zones.

 

settler-led "environmental justice" does not supersede indigenous rights, and pushing for a massive industrial scale project is certainly not the best ecological solution, it is a stop gap and a continuation of the same system.  you gotta get off the fence - i thought the enviros were serious when they chanted "system change not climate change" at cop 15.

Follow up story in the works

 

As expressed in the comments this story doesn't answer all the question on why HDI is opposing this project. 

I spoke to a representative from HDI today, and was told they do not oppose all wind and solar projects, and in-fact support renewable energy. However they object to the way that Samsung has engaged, or failed to engage in a process that would work to create energy and respect first nations at the same time.

I am currently working on a follow up story that I hope will provide more clarity on the possition of HDI.  

 

That's helpful to know what

That's helpful to know what they're opposing.

And thanks for writing a follow-up. Very interested in following this story.

links to new article

Here is the brief follow up story:

http://toronto.mediacoop.ca/story/we-are-not-against-wind-mills-says-six-nations-group/11184

The situation on the ground seems to be changing quite fast, and I wasn't able to provide a complete picture of what is going on. But this article addresses some of the questions that were raised in these comments

values

To be clear: I value indiginous rights. But that's not all I value. I also value environmental sustainability.

We ARE shutting down the coal plants (in ON and the US). That was done by strategic political organizing and public pressure. And now we're going after the nuke expansion the province is planning. And yes, that means conservation first and foremost. But we'll still have to get electricity from somewhere, and I'm gunning for renewable energy. Yes, small scale distributed generation is best, but that will take a lot longer than larger industrial-size projects, so I understand we'll need both (large and small) to radically shift the tragectory away from imminent nuke (locally), and coal and gas plants (globally).

Of course I don't support overriding First Nations landrights. But I would hope there is opportunity for negotiation. That's why I asked what exactly they are opposed to as it's not clear in the article. Thanks Dan - you added some clarity to that question.

The experience in Germany is that where a community benefits from a RE project, there is no opposition. I'm interested in knowing more about this project - what is being offered by Samsung and what is being taken away, and what the community is asking for. Thanks for drawing it to my attn. Tim.

What an excellent debate!, I

What an excellent debate!, I want to formulate a thought but it isn't baked yet, that this can be an opportunity to bring energy issues (energy justice) into the discourse of media co-op and Indigenous solidarity and anti-austerity activism.  Things happen when the decisions and debates happen between people not corporations and government, and I see the slight contention above as a working point. 

I am looking forward to Tim's future writing on the issue. 

 

-Zach

HDI / Samsung / Renewable Energy

To answer Angela's question about why HDI would oppose renewable energy - I don't think that is the point from their perspective.  They are attempting to establish themselves as an approving authority, in effect a level of government not subject to the Canadian constitution.  While this may be a valid stance from an aboriginal perspective, it is quite problematic from a non-aboriginal perspective because it goes beyond the Duty to Consult by potentially setting HDI up as gate-keepers with veto-wielding power.  At stake here is precedent - HDI wants a precedent set - it could potentially be a real game-changer - that's what I believe this is about.

well, despite our discussion here...

so, we say this is right, this is not right - well, the HDI gets their way after 3 days of DA!

yeah, im posting a sun article...

 

samsug is obviously still ignorant on the issue of consultation, with the whole sillyness around the "centuries-old dispute between the confederacy chiefs and the elected council" - as the band council did not exist until the canadian gov't sent the RCMP to impose the indian act band council.

 

 

but hey, direct action gets the goods!   samsung makes the wise + right move.

 

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/06/01/samsung-agrees-to-fee-for-native-di...

TORONTO - Samsung has agreed to pay a $7,000 application fee demanded by native dissidents on the Six Nations’ reserve after protesters blocked the firm from starting work on a $55-million renewable energy deal it signed with the elected council.

“Samsung Renewable Energy would like to once again express its willingness to continue a meaningful engagement, by making the payment of the ‘application fee’ as required by the Haudenosauee Development Institute,” president Lee Jeong-Tak wrote in a letter dated Wednesday.

“The application form and payment (cheque) in favour of HDI in the amount of $7,000 are as enclosed.”

In exchange for the money, Samsung asks HDI to lift a cease and desist order it placed on the company last November, to co-operate with Samsung on getting its wind and solar project in the area off the ground, and to help keep any third-party protesters from preventing work.

“There was a disruption on the site” on Tuesday, Samsung spokesman Stefan Baranski said.

“There was about 15 folks from the HCCC (Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council) who basically showed up at the site and said they don’t agree with the project going forward.”

On Monday, the Six Nations elected council, led by Chief Bill Montour, signed an agreement with Samsung that would see part of the firm’s 250-megawatt Grand River Renewable Energy Project built on reserve land. In return, Samsung would pay Six Nations $55 million in lease or royalty payments over the next 20 years.

It’s all part of Samsung’s $7-billion investment to build 2,500 MW of wind and solar electrical generation and four manufacturing plants to support construction, signed in 2010 with the Ontario government.

“It’s put Samsung in a difficult position to say the least, given that they are caught in the middle of centuries-old dispute between the confederacy chiefs and the elected council,” Baranski said.

“It (the deal) was duly approved, it was voted on by the elected council, it was subject to 10 full public consultation sessions.”

In a news release Thursday, Montour reiterated comments he made to the local media earlier that he would call in the OPP if protesters stopped work on the site, west of Dunnville, again.

“Six Nations’ elected council also requested that Ontario Provincial Police support the proponents of these projects against trespassers by enforcing the law,” the release said.

In a web posting made Monday asking for volunteers to head to the site and help block work, HDI laid out its objections.

“The Haudenosaunee Development Institute (HDI), an arm of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council, (the traditional leadership body of the Six Nations people) is urgently requesting the support of the April 28th Coalition and supporters in regards to a very important issue at Six Nations today, tomorrow and possibly later in the week,” the posting said.

“The giant multinational corporation Samsung is planning a multi-billion dollar “renewable energy” project on Six Nations lands within the 1701 treaty area and has refused to consult or accommodate with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chiefs Council.”

Many of the same internal band tensions have complicated the protracted Caledonia land dispute, which has seen protesters occupy a housing development for several years.

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