The Tobacco Tycoon

From: Toronto Life

Ken Hill, the millionaire industrialist who built his fortune selling cigarettes on the Six Nations reserve, is in the fight of his life

Ken Hill is the most successful man you’ve never heard of. He’s also mounting one of the most audacious fights for Indigenous sovereignty since the founding of this country. Hill isn’t crusading on Parliament Hill or creating hashtags on social media. His battleground is the courtroom.

Hill is Mohawk, and he grew up with 11 sisters and brothers in a small house in Six Nations, Canada’s most populous reserve, southwest of Hamilton. He has the build of a prizefighter, as big as a heavyweight but with a flyweight’s voice—assured but gentle, unaffected, dropping his g’s. His father worked steel. His mother gave him the advice a fighter needs: don’t think you’re the toughest man around, because there’s always someone tougher. He spent his early adulthood in reserve politics. In 1985, he won a by-election, becoming one of 12 councillors who, along with the elected chief, govern the nation.

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