Restoring the Chain of Friendship: British Policy and the Indians of the Great Lakes, 1783-1815

By Timothy D. Willig | Go to book overview

4
A New Society on the Grand River, 1784–1801

A third locale of British-Indian relations after the American Revolution was the Grand River, a tributary in Upper Canada flowing into the northeastern end of Lake Erie, set aside by Governor-General Sir Frederick Haldimand in 1784 for the Six Nations and their dependencies who had fought for the British during the war. At Amherstburg and in the North, Britain had maintained a sphere of influence mainly through trade and Indian gifts, though in the 1790s at Amherstburg, British officers reduced all gifts and annual presents to their former Native allies. The Grand River community was distinctive in that it was a large grant of territory intended as a place of settlement for the loyal refugee tribes, including Mohawks, Cayugas, Onondagas, Senecas, Tuscaroras, and Delawares, most of whom were from New York.

This chapter explores how the terms of the Haldimand Grant became a contested subject between British authorities and the Natives. It first examines the period from 1784 to 1797, during which both tribal and British leaders attempted to define the nature of the grant on terms favorable to their respective interests. The key issue was whether the Indian residents of the Grand River would be allowed to sell land to white settlers. British resistance to such proposals contributed to a virtual deadlock between the British and Indians regarding land sales by the end of this period, and the stalemate fueled a dispute over the extent of Six Nations' sovereignty and legal status of Natives in Canada in general.1 The Six Nations at the Grand River

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