Grand River Settlement and The Loyal Six Nations Settlement

Angela E.M. Files, February 1990, Vol.2 No.1, Pages 13-14

At 2:30 p.m. on October 15, 1989, the Grand River Branch of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada honoured the loyal Six Nations with the opening of a permanent display entitled “The Grand River Settlement and the Loyal Six Nations” in the Woodland Cultural Centre, located at 184 Mohawk Street, Brantford.  The display reviews some of the loyalist history of the Iroquois and was co-ordinated by curator Tom Hill and the Grand River U.E.L.

  The People of the Longhouse, or Iroquois, are comprised of Six Nations: the Mohawks, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Tuscaroras, and the Senecas.  Until the end of the American Revolution, they lived in central and western New York state.  During the American Revolution the Iroquois League allowed each member tribe to decide allegiance for itself.  All the tribes chose to side with the British except the Oneida and about one-half of the Tuscaroras.  In 1777 the Iroquois entered the Revolution after two years of neutrality.

  Two years later, General George Washington ordered his Generals Clinton and Sullivan to destroy Iroquois country.  Over forty Indian villages were burned!  The Iroquois were forced to flee to Fort Niagara, the military post of Butler’s Rangers.  In 1784 the Six Nations moved to the Grand River Valley because the Haldimand Deed gave them the land six miles on either side of the Grand River from Lake Erie to the head of the river.  Their first settlement, known as ‘The Mohawk Village’, grew up around the Mohawk Chapel, the Council House and the house of Chief Joseph Brant.  Maps of the trek of the Six Nations from New York to Upper Canada, a framed reproduction of the Haldimand Deed, and a miniature replica of Mohawk Village were included in this permanent exhibition.  Mr. Bill Paulus, Native artist and a descendant of the Paulus family of Mohawk Village, built the model settlement.

  One of the outstanding items in the exhibit is a replica of the silver gorget, which was presented to Captain Joseph Brant by King George III in 1775, to mark the commission of Joseph Brant as a full captain in the British army.  The occasion marking the gift of the gorget was Brant’s first visit to England and his second meeting with King George III.  Colonel Guy Johnson, accompanied by Lord George Germain, Secretary of State for the Colonies, drove with Brant to St. James Palace in a state coach for the presentation of the gorget.

  The gorget is a remnant for the armoured knight’s throat protection.  The gilt or silver crescent was hung from the neck by a ribbon.  In the complete armour worn in England from 1400 to 1600, the gorget was a separate piece covering the area between the face plate of the helmet and the breast plate, thus protecting the throat.  The gorget was never officially adopted by the American Continental Army, as it was in the English, Hessian and French forces.  Jenny Maracle, daughter of George and Josette Maracle, exquisitely crafted the pattern of the original gorget proudly worn by Chief Joseph Brant.

Loyalist or Mohawk Village

Inhabitants lived in the area around the Mohawk Chapel.  Mrs. Ethel Monture wrote in her book entitled ‘Famous Indians’ that in early times, the village was known as ‘Loyalist Village’ and later it became known as ‘Mohawk Village’.

One of the definitions of the word ‘history’ is that it is a branch of knowledge dealing with past events of the human race.  The exhibit ‘The Grand River and the Loyal Six Nations’ recounts the historic events of the Six Nations for present and future generations.

May the display teach us the price Loyalists paid for their loyalty to King and country!