Akwesasne will resubmit North Shore land claim: Benedict

Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict, seen here in this April 20, 2016 file photo, says the First Nation will resubmit its North Shore land claim after it was rejected by the federal government. The Mohawks of Akwesasne claim the Crown failed to protect their interest in a large tract of land in the 1700s in, what is now, part of SD&G. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

AKWESASNE – The grand chief of Akwesasne says they will regroup and do more research for the North Shore land claim after the federal government rejected their initial filing.

The claim, submitted in June 2012 for consideration under the Specific Claims Policy, covers an area from the mouth of the Raisin River to the Long Sault Islands and 29 kilometers (18 miles) inland from the St. Lawrence River.

“After completing a thorough assessment of this claim, Canada did not accept the claim for negotiation. The First Nation has recently been notified of Canada’s decision on this claim,” said Shawn Jackson, spokesman for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, in an emailed statement to Cornwall Newswatch.

Jackson indicated the reasons for the decision were shared with Akwesasne but the matter is confidential.

Akwesasne Grand Chief Abram Benedict is taking the decision in stride, telling CNW Tuesday they will be refiling the claim.

“We are extremely disappointed by that (decision). It simply means that we need to continue to do our research and resubmit the claim again,” Benedict said. “So it’s not a finality and it’s not a final decision. It’s just that we haven’t provided enough evidence at this point to negotiate the claim.”

Land claims are generally about money and not the return of land to Akwesasne, Benedict explained. It won’t affect the recent deal between Akwesasne and the City of Cornwall for the port land off Harbour Road, he said.

The Mohawks of Akwesasne have considered the area in question traditional territory from the 1700s that was never surrendered or sold. The claim accuses the Crown of failing to protect Akwesasne’s loss of the lands.