Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation

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Six Nations of the Grand River
Indian Reserve
Place sign, Six Nations, Ontario.JPG
Six Nations is located in Ontario
Six Nations
Six Nations
Coordinates: 43°03′04″N 80°07′21″W / 43.05111°N 80.12250°W / 43.05111; -80.12250Coordinates: 43°03′04″N 80°07′21″W / 43.05111°N 80.12250°W / 43.05111; -80.12250
Country  Canada
Province  Ontario
Formed 1784
 • Chief Ava Hill
 • Federal riding Brant
 • Prov. riding Brant
 • Land 183.20 km2 (70.73 sq mi)
Population (August 2012)[2]
 • Total 12,100
 • Density 64.8/km2 (168/sq mi)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Postal Code N0A
Area code(s) 519 and 226

Six Nations (or Six Nations of the Grand River) is the largest First Nation band in Canada with a total of 25,660 members. Some 12,271 are reported living on the reserve.[2] It is the only territory in North America that has the six Iroquois nations living together.[citation needed] These nations are the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora. There are also some Delaware living in the territory.

The Six Nations reserve is bordered by the County of Brant, city of Brantford, ON, Norfolk County, Haldimand County, and the New Credit Indian reserve. The acreage at present covers some 46,000 acres (190 km2) near the city of Brantford, Ontario. This represents approximately 5% of the original 950,000 acres (3,800 km2) of land granted by the 1784 Haldimand Treaty.[3]


Some of the Iroquois people allied with the British during the American Revolutionary War, particularly from the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga and Seneca nations. Some warriors of the Oneida and Tuscarora also allied with them. These represented the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois Confederacy. After the colonists' victory, the British government worked to resettle native Loyalists in Canada and provide some compensation for properties lost in the new United States. The Crown also hoped to use new settlers to develop more towns and agriculture in areas west of Quebec, a territory later known as Upper Canada.

After the war, Mohawk people John Deseronto and Joseph Brant met with the British officer Frederick Haldimand to discuss the loss of their lands in New York. Haldimand promised to resettle the Mohawk near the Bay of Quinte, on the northeast shore of Lake Ontario, in present-day Ontario, Canada. Haldimand purchased and granted the Mohawks a tract 12 by 13 miles (21 km) on the Bay of Quinte. Brant decided that he preferred to settle on the Grand River. About 200 Mohawk settled with Deseronto at what is now called the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, Ontario. The group of Mohawks originally led by John Deseronto, who died in the town named after him, settled on the Bay of Quinte known as “Tyendinaga”. The Mohawk of the Lower Castle primarily settled at the Bay of Quinte, while those of the Upper Castle settled on the Grand River.

By the Haldimand Proclamation of October 25, 1784, the government granted a reserve of land to the Mohawk Nation and Six Nations bands in appreciation of their support for The Crown during the revolution. Joseph Brant led a large group of Iroquois to settle in what is now referred to as “Six Nations of the Grand River.”

In 1785 a census showed that 1,843 Natives lived on the Grand River reserve, including 448 Mohawk, 381 Cayuga, 245 Onondaga, 162 Oneida, 129 Tuscarora, and 78 Seneca. There were also 400 from other tribes, including Delaware (Lenape), and others from southern territory, such as the Nanticoke, Tutelo, and some Creek and Cherokee.[4] Joseph Brant invited several Anglo-American white families to live on the grant, particularly former members of Brant's Volunteers and Butler's Rangers from New York. To encourage his loyalist friends to settle there, he gave them larger grants than the government had given other loyalists. Some of the Aboriginals objected to Brant giving land grants to whites in this reserve area.

The Aboriginals received some provisions for resettlement from the Indian department, including such items as saws, axes, grindstones, and chisels. They received help in establishing schools and churches, and in acquiring farm equipment and other necessities. Conditions were extremely difficult in the first years on the frontier, as the government did not provide enough supplies or assistance to the resettled loyalists. In 1785, the government built the first Protestant church in Upper Canada (now Ontario), Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, on the reserve. It is now one of twelve Chapels Royal supported by the Crown throughout the world.

The main town was at what is now Brantford. It was first called Brant's Town after Joseph Brant, who built his residence there. In 1798, it was described as a large and sprawling settlement. Brant's home was a handsome two-story house, built in a European-American style. In 1797, Brant founded one of the earliest Masonic Lodges in Upper Canada; he was its Worshipful Master.

In the early 1790s, the population started decreasing as Aboriginals left the Grand River for traditional native communities in New York. After Brant's land sales starting in 1795, the population began to increase again, with the promise of annuities to help the Six Nations community survive.

Governor John Simcoe confirmed the Grant with a limited deed on January 14, 1793. This deed did not extend to the source of the Grand River[citation needed], territory to which the Six Nations maintained they were entitled as described in the earlier Haldimand Proclamation. Also, this deed forbade them to sell the land to anyone but each other and the king. Led by Joseph Brant, the chiefs rejected the deed. In 1795, the Grand River chiefs empowered Joseph Brant to sell large blocks of land in the northern section, which the Aboriginals were not using. They set terms of no money down because they wanted to take their payment entirely in future years as annual interest.

The original tract of land stretched from the mouth of the Grand River on the shores of Lake Erie to the river's head, and for 10 km (6 mi) from either bank. Between 1795 and 1797, Joseph Brant sold 381,480 acres (1,543.8 km2) to land speculators; the property comprising the northern half of the reserve was sold for £85,332. This was the highest price paid to Aboriginals up to this time for undeveloped land.

Chiefs of the Six Nations explaining their wampum belts to Horatio Hale, 1871

Simcoe opposed the sale. The interest on the annuity promised an income to the people of £5,119 per year, far more than any other Iroquois people had received. The land speculators were unable to sell farm-size lots to settlers fast enough. By 1801, however, all the land speculators had fallen behind in their payments. Because of the lack of payments, Brant was determined to sell more land to make up for the missing payments.

In 1796, Lord Dorchester issued another deed for the land. This empowered the Aboriginals to lease or sell their land provided they offered it first for sale to the government. Brant rejected this deed partly because the deed named the Six Nations as owners of the land. He believed the deed should be limited to the current persons living on the land.

In 1800, two-thirds of the Aboriginals had not adapted to subsistence agriculture maintained by separate household. Brant had hoped that sales of land to European Americans would help them develop the frontier more than took place.

In 1828, John Brant, a chief, was appointed resident superintendent for the Six Nations of the Grand River.

The Six Nations people were originally given 10 km on either side of the entire length of the Grand River, although much of the land was later sold. The current reserves encompass 184.7 km2 (71 sq mi), all but 0.4 km2 in Six Nations reserve No. 40.


Several named communities exist within the Six Nations reserve:

  • Beavers Corner
  • Longboat Corners
  • Medina Corners
  • Ohsweken
  • St. Johns
  • Sixty-Nine Corners
  • Smith Corners
  • Smoothtown
  • Sour Spring
  • Stoneridge


They later welcomed a group of Algonquian Delaware, who spoke Unami (Lenape), to the reserve.

Six Nations of the Grand River is the most populous reserve in Canada. As of December 2013, there were 25,660 band members, of which 12,271 lived on the reserve. The population consists of the following bands:[5]

Nation Band Name Total On reserve
Iroquois Bay of Quinte Mohawk 740 326
Tuscarora 2,130 973
Oneida 1,999 758
Onondaga Clear Sky 778 429
Bearfoot Onondaga 601 238
Upper Cayuga 3,503 1,431
Lower Cayuga 3,538 2,213
Konadaha Seneca 533 200
Niharondasa Seneca 368 161
Lower Mohawk 4,016 2,054
Walker Mohawk 485 298
Upper Mohawk 6,018 2,857
Algonquin Delaware 617 236*
total 25,385 12, 175

* not mentioned in Marcy 2013 statistics.


The reserve has both a traditional Iroquois council of chiefs and an elected band council conforming to Canadian law.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Six Nations of the Grand River". First Nation Profiles. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  2. ^ a b Six Nations of the Grand River - Monthly Membership Statistics
  3. ^ Paxton PhD, James W. (2008). Joseph Brant and His World: 18th Century Mohawk Warrior and Statesman. James Lorimer & Company Ltd. 
  4. ^ Kelsay pg. 370
  5. ^ (PDF) Monthly Membership Statistics As of the end of Ganesgwaotago (Report). Six Nations of the Grand River. March 2013.


External links[edit]