The Bay of Quinte Mohawks will head to the polls starting this weekend to decide on a long-disputed parcel of land that belonged to the Mohawks nearly two centuries ago.
Culbertson Land Tract has been the centerpiece of a decades-long legal battle with the federal government.
The 923-acre parcel of land stretches from the Tyendinaga Mohawk territory to the nearby city of Deseronto, much of which was lost to loyalist settlement in the early 1800s.
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Now Don Maracle, head of the Quinte Bay Mohawks, is urging the residents of the Mohawk Territory of Tyendinaga to vote yes on the land deal finally reached between the gang’s council and the federal government.
“The Quinte Bay Mohawks filed the claim in 1995 and in 2004 we received a response from Bob Nault (then Minister of Crown-Indian Relations) accepting the claim for negotiation. There have been several years of negotiations over this piece of land, ”Maracle said in an interview with Global News.
The years-long quest to reclaim the land comes to a head over the next month.
Residents of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory will first be able to vote on Saturday and choose whether or not to accept the deal, which involves the return of the land, as well as financial compensation.
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Voting by mail and online is open until October 16. Another day of in-person voting will also take place on October 16, and the polls will close at 8 p.m.
Maracle hopes that residents will see the benefit of agreeing to the deal.
“It is an opportunity to obtain compensation for the time that we had no use of our land for 184 years. And it will increase stewardship and control of the land that, in our opinion, has been rightfully ours from the beginning, ”Maracle said.
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