The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte will be heading to the polls starting this weekend to decide on a long-disputed parcel of land that belonged to the Mohawks almost two centuries ago.
The Culbertson Land Tract has been the centrepiece of a decades-long legal battle with the federal government.
The 923-acre parcel of land stretches from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory to the nearby Town of Deseronto, much of which was lost in the Loyalist settlement in the early 1800s.
Now, Don Maracle, chief of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, is urging residents of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory to vote yes on the land settlement finally achieved between the band council and the federal government.
“Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte filed the claim in 1995 and in 2004 we received a response from Bob Nault (then minister of Crown–Indigenous relations) accepting the claim for negotiation. There have been several years of negotiations concerning this tract of land,” Maracle said in an interview with Global News.
The years-long pursuit of reclaiming the land comes to a head over the next month.
Residents of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory will first be able to vote Saturday, and will choose on whether or not to accept the settlement, which involves the return of land, as well as financial compensation.
Mail-in and online voting is open until Oct. 16. Another in-person voting day will take place on Oct. 16 as well, with polls closing at 8 p.m.
Maracle is hoping that residents will see the benefit of accepting the settlement.
“It’s an opportunity to get compensation for the time that we didn’t have use of our land for 184 years. And it will increase the administration and control of land that in our view has been rightfully ours all along,” Maracle said.