A land recognition statement by McMaster University’s Indigenous Studies Department now precedes meetings as varied as City of Hamilton Council debates to neighbourhood planning team gatherings.
The Anishinaabe (Mississaugans) and Haudenosaunee (Six Nations Iroquois) are duly recognized but an aboriginal group that sadly has no one to advocate for them has been omitted. The Iroquois speaking Chonnonton (`people who tend deer’) occupied much of southern Ontario and even the extreme western portion of New York State . One Chonnonton group, the Onguiaahra gave their name to a mighty river that would come to bisect two countries.
The two terms, the Chonnonton were previously know by, should be forever discarded. The `Neutrals’ was how the French described them, because of the deliberate strategic policy they choose to stay out of the conflict between the Huron (Wendat) and the Haudenosaune. Attawandaron which means `those whose speech is Awry’ was a derogatory term used by the Wendat to defame their southern neighbors.
One day in the early 19th century, Robert Land, the`first’ white settler in Hamilton was plowing a section of his farm near the end of Emerald Street, where Otis-Fensom and Bofors would turn out passenger elevators and anti-aircraft guns decades later. A winding trail led to the shores of Burlington Bay nearby.
For many years, a large mound engirded by oak trees,periodically threw up tantalizing clues of its long held status as an Indian burial mound. But now, as the steel blade of the single furrow plough broke the ground, heaps of small stones as well as arrows and spearhead made of flint were turned up.
John Henry Land, a great grandson of Robert, and who recounted these events in an single page article in The Papers and Record of the Wentworth Historical Society, also uncovered artifacts at the old mound, including a crumbling skeleton, which he believed all may have been the aftermath of a great battle.
Archeologists and historians have long pondered whether the sudden disappearance of the Chonnonton from the stage of history about 1650, ten years after Wendat were defeated, the details of which are accurately recorded in The Relations of the Jesuit missionaries, wasn’t due to a single dramatic event such as a pitched battle.