Open letter to Randy Boswell: Correcting your Oped, Aug. 17, 2020

Open letter to Randy Boswell: Correcting your Oped, Aug. 17, 2020
Posted on October 13, 2020 | Jason Arbour | Written on October 13, 2020
Letter type:


Ottawa Citizen

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

  • Edward Van Cortlandt – Doctor, coroner, environmentalist, geologist (1843) – Disturbed the Kana:tso Indian villages' burial ground in Hull, Quebec;
  • Edward Van Cortlandt contributed to the systemic genocide of the first peoples of Kana:tso by removing my ancestors from beneath the earth, where my people inhabited since time immemorial 
 Randy Boswell, an Ottawa writer and journalism professor at Carleton University, is systematically disturbing the legacy of the Iroquoian people who inherited and then lost their ossuary (burial ground) adjacent the Chaudière Falls. When Randy Boswell writes his "modern interpretation" of the 1843 desecration of our Indian burial ground, he leaves out key information regarding Edward Van Cortlandt's primary account, and recognition of an Indian encampment situated directly above the villages' ossuary
1843 was the year European settlers like Dr. Edward Van Cortlandt attempted to sever our ancestral connection to the land itself. By removing our ancestors' ossuary from below their Indian village, located at a 'carrying place adjacent the Chaudière falls', Dr. Van Cortlandt began the process of removing my ancestors from their land. Mr. Boswell states in his article published in the Ottawa Citizen on August 17, 2020 that 10 years after Van Cortlandt described the find in an early Canadian scientific journal. But that his 1853 article gave only the "vaguest sense" of the burial ground’s location: “...about half a mile below the mighty cataract of the Chaudiére.” 
Stating Edward Van Cortland only gave the "vaguest sense" of the burial ground’s location is a grave understatement, made purposely, I believe, another attempt, in a long line, to disconnect our Indian Village of Hull from our ancestral burial ground and ancestral remains. In contrast, here is Edward Van Cortland's own written account of the Indian burial ground as published in The Canadian Journal, a repertory of industry, science, and art:
On the link above, on pages 160 and 161, Edward Van Cortland describes, in his written chronicle, that "the spot in question was situated on a projecting point of land directly in rear of 'their' encampment, at a carrying place, about half a mile below the mighty cataract of the Chaudière". 10 years after Edward Van Cortland cited the encampment in his chronicle, the Township of Hull cartographically precisely captured our historical rights bearing community. Please see 1863 map below in pdf. 
In his column, Randy Boswell does not include the rest of the sentence in his quote, leaving out the line "...directly in rear of their encampment". Why did he leave it out? He quotes half the sentence, but not the part with the precise details of the burial ground's location, all the while saying its location is "vague", something that clearly isn't true. Is this what amounts to journalism in 2020? Because it reads more like fake news. 
Philemon Wright was the first immigrant to settle at Kana:tso, next to the Chaudière Falls. He arrived upon our land and said he was permitted by the Crown to live beside us in harmony. He also promised to purchase our maple sugar for a higher price, which would save our wholesalers the long trip to Montreal where they traded. Members of our Mohawk indigenous community worked respectfully with Philemon Wright's group to build the Township of Hull. Philemon Wright acknowledged that, we, indigenous people, had land rights. He told the people of Hull at different times, "no people shall disturb or tax the Indians who reside at the lower village of Hull". Henceforth, our community became enveloped by the advancing European settlers.
Unfortunately, after Philemon Wright's death on June 3, 1839, our indigenous land rights were further disregarded by colonial settlers. Only 14 days after Philemon Wright's death, the colonial settlers held privy council regarding their usurped rights to our land, most specifically Kettle Island. 
No one can confirm the age of the entire skeletal collection from our ossuary, certainly not after contaminating the remains by mixing them with Edward Van Cortlandt's immense collection, which included specimens from Egypt. Edward Van Cortlandt hung skeletal remains in his closet. The remains were then hauled all over, long before any qualified scientific analysis was made.
Shame on you Mr. Boswell for decorating Edward Van Cortlandt's questionable academic achievements. Someone who was known at the time to be of dubious chararcter. Take for example the public notice posted by R. Hervey, Jr. on August 19, 1848 regarding Dr. Van Cortlandt's character: How many people in the 19th Century had public notices pulished degradring their character? It takes a special kind of person to illicit this kind of public response. 
Randy Boswell, you praise Edward Van Courtland for his academic achievements, but to my family and R. Hervey, Jr., Edward Van Courtland is Utterly Unworthy of Notice

About The Author

Tsit-Kanaja Kaniengehaga's picture

My name is Jason (Rotisken'rakehte) Arbour, Appointed Chief and Legal Representative of Kana:tso Kaniengehaga First Nation. In 1903 my family/band was disbanded from our Indian resserve and place of origin at... More