‘Now is the time for you to help the King,’ General Haldimand had said to the assembled redskins in 1775. ’The war has commenced. Assist the King now, and you will find it to your advantage. Go now and fight for your possessions, and, whatever you lose of your property during the war, the King will make up to you when peace returns.’
Sir Guy Carleton had also assured the Indians that money would be spent to give them the same position after the war that they had occupied before it, and that the government would not be lax in dealing with their needs. In 1779, when General Haldimand was already in command of all the forces in Canada, he had reiterated his promises, and said that he would do his best to fulfil them, ’as soon as that happy time [the restoration of peace] should come.’
When the war was ended most of the Mohawk nation were dwelling on the west bank of the Niagara river. They had pitched their wigwams close to the landing-place, now Lewiston, which was some miles above the fort. Their old territory was situated in the heart of the country of their conquerors and to this they could not return with safety. The Senecas, who lived near by, saw how sad was their plight and offered them land upon which they might reside. The Mohawks appreciated the kindness of this proposal of the warlike nation which had fought by their side in the long struggle, but they could not accept the offer. In the words of Brant himself, they were resolved to ‘sink or swim’ with the English.
To settle the matter the War Chief journeyed down the St Lawrence to confer with the Canadian leaders. At Quebec he met General Haldimand and was welcomed by this officer with the sincerest friendship and given a chance to discuss the unhappy lot of his homeless people. Haldimand said that he would be quite ready to fulfil the promises that he had made during the war. Brant replied that his tribesmen would like to settle on English ground, and named the region on the Bay of Quinte as a spot suited to their needs. These lands were especially fertile and beautiful, and Haldimand was quite willing that the grant should be made in accordance with their wishes. He said that a tract would soon be purchased and given to the warriors of the Six Nations. Brant must have been well accompanied on his journey to the east, since on his way back twenty Indian families turned aside and pitched their abodes in the territory allotted to them on the Bay of Quinte. They were ruled by an Indian named Captain John, and a thriving Mohawk settlement was thus begun. Brant continued his journey along the south side of Lake Ontario, and came once again to Niagara.
But when the War Chief told the waiting redskins of his negotiations with General Haldimand there was a great outcry of dissatisfaction. The Senecas, who were the chief objectors, stated that they could not allow their kinsmen and old comrades-in-arms to go so far away from them as the Bay of Quinte. The Senecas were still afraid that they might have difficulties with the people of the United States, in whose country they were dwelling. The Mohawks must be near at hand to come to their rescue should the hatchet again be upraised.