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Agreement ratification restores land rights to the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte

Video courtesy of Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte Youtube.

By Felicia Massey [1]

QUINTE WEST — The Tyendinaga Mohawk Council announced this past Sunday that after 17 years of negotiation, the membership of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (MBQ) have ratified the Culbertson Tract Partial Settlement Agreement.

The ratification of the Culbertson Tract Partial Settlement Agreement will restore the control of almost 300 acres of land to the MBQ and award them over $25 million for the loss of land use they endured over the last 180 years.

In a news release, the MBQ detailed the history behind the agreement.

In 1837 over 900 acres of Mohawk Tract land was given to the grandson of Mohawk Captain and founder John Deseronto. Captain Deseronto’s grandson John Culbertson received this land without complying with voting requirements.

Map showing the Culbertson Tract land. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Bartlett, MBQ.

Over 150 years later in 1995, the MBQ began to seek the return of the Culbertson Tract land by submitting a specific claim against Canada and Ontario. The claim requested that control over the land be given back to the MBQ, and financial compensation for loss of use from 1837 to the present day be awarded to them.

The partial settlement agreement will now be passed on to the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs office of Canada for signature from the minister.

In a statement from the MBQ [2], they outlined that “negotiations were difficult and protracted due to Canada’s insistence that return of the land was not possible without a willing seller or a surrender of rights to the land.”

The ratification vote results confirm that out of 2,045 total votes cast, 1,951 were in favour of the agreement.

“I’m very pleased by the voter turnout and the very high level of support,” said Chief, R. Don Maracle in the news release.

“Today, we have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse this trend and to reacquire administration and control of our land illegally taken from us.”