Aboriginal treaties in Canada are constitutionally recognized agreements between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples. Most of these agreements describe exchanges where Aboriginal groups agree to share some of their interests in their ancestral lands in return for various kinds of payments and promises from Crown officials. On a deeper level Indian treaties are sometimes understood, particularly on the Aboriginal side, as solemn pacts or sacred covenants between peoples that establish the underlying principles for the relationship linking those for whom Canada is an ancient homeland with those whose deepest family roots lie in other countries. Thus treaties between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples establish a constitutional and moral basis of alliance between FIRST NATIONS peoples and the sovereign institutions of the Canadian state.
On the Aboriginal side the sacredness and binding character of treaties is not to be found primarily in the signature marks or in the legalistic language which adorn treaty documents. Instead the true force of their treaties with the Crown is rooted in what was actually said, often in Aboriginal languages, at the time of the negotiations when treaty deliberations were frequently accompanied with the smoking of sacred pipes (CALUMET) or with an exchange of symbolically significant presents such as elaborately decorated WAMPUM belts. In the eyes of the Aboriginal participants, it is these ceremonial conventions which often raised the proceedings to the highest level of law making and diplomacy. In keeping with this orientation, many contemporary native people look to those among their own elders who are most deeply schooled in the oral histories of First Nations, as the highest authorities on what they generally describe as the spirit and intent of their treaties with the Crown.
On the Crown side the basic principles for treaty making with Aboriginal peoples were articulated by King George III in the ROYAL PROCLAMATION OF 1763, which established the constitutional foundations of Canada after the government of France withdrew its territorial claims to North America. The constitutional character of past and future treaties between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown was renewed in the Constitution Act of 1982. Section 35 of that document, which describes itself as "the supreme law of Canada," both recognizes and affirms "existing Aboriginal and treaty rights."
In 1990 the Supreme Court of Canada in the Sioui case determined that "treaties and statutes relating to Indians should be liberally construed and uncertainties resolved in favour of the Indians." In the same case the court introduced into Canadian jurisprudence a principle adopted from a 19th-century ruling in the USA indicating that Indian treaties "must therefore be construed, not according to the technical meaning of its words to learned lawyers, but in the sense in which they would naturally be understood by the Indians."
In spite of the high constitutional character of treaties in Canada, these deals were often viewed cynically by those non-Indians responsible for both making and implementing these agreements as relatively cheap and expedient ways to ease natives off most of the lands of Canada so that these resources could be opened for exploitation by other groups and interests. The tendency on the part of federal and provincial governments so far has been to continue this cynicism by interpreting Treaties as narrowly and legalistically as possible, while holding to the position that natives "ceded, surrendered and yielded" all their Aboriginal rights and titles to their ancestral lands through these instruments.
This narrow and one-sided view of treaties essentially as real estate deals by which native groups sold all their interest in vast parcels of land for small original payments and small continuing payments - usually $5 per treaty Indian per year - has produced a huge schism of perception. On the one hand is the view of treaties as legal instruments that extinguished ABORIGINAL RIGHTS. On the other hand is the view of treaties as instruments of relationship between peoples who agree to share the lands and resources of Canada as co-existing but relatively autonomous communities. Seen from this latter perspective, treaties didn't extinguish rights but rather confirmed rights through Crown recognition that Aboriginal peoples have the capacity to make and enforce their own laws and thus to act as self-governing participants on the international stage. Bridging the gap between these 2 views of treaties, either as a solvent or as a confirmation of Aboriginal rights, poses a huge challenge to the people and law makers of Canada.
The conventions and protocols of treaty making that were and are being applied to the largest part of Canada have their origins in the old Covenant Chain. The Covenant Chain is an elaborate cross-cultural diplomatic construct developed after 1676 to help influence the evolving geopolitical relationship between several Anglo-American colonies and various Aboriginal nations in the northeastern portion of North America. The heartland of this major laboratory of Crown-Aboriginal treaty making was the council grounds near Albany, where officials from New York Colony regularly negotiated with representatives of the League of the Haudonosaunee, otherwise known as the Longhouse League, the Iroquois or the Five and later SIX NATIONS Confederacy. The sometimes tenuous principle at the basis of the Covenant Chain, which borrowed heavily from the metaphors and political ideology of the Haudonosaunee, was that New York was at the head of the other Anglo-American colonies and that the Iroquois League was at the head of a wider Aboriginal association which Francis Jennings has called "the ambiguous Iroquois empire." By developing treaty relationships with the League members, but especially with the powerful MOHAWK, Crown officials began developing the largely mythical legal presumption that their government's jurisdictional reach extended through the IROQUOIS deeper into the Aboriginal territories of Canada.
When Crown officials spoke of renewing treaty relationships with their INDIAN allies, a usual metaphor would be to refer to polishing the iron and later silver links of the Covenant Chain. It would be almost unthinkable for those Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal diplomats schooled in the Covenant Chain tradition of treaty making to attempt to make agreements without signifying their major features on wampum belts composed of shell fragments woven into appropriate symbolic representations. To accept a wampum in formal council was to agree to adhere to the principles embodied in its woven design. The wampum thereafter served to help perpetuate the memory of what was transacted in the Treaty Council. The use of wampum as an instrument of treaty relationships spread widely throughout eastern North America in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.
There is another tradition of treaty relations sometimes also described as the Covenant Chain. This tradition links the British Crown to MICMAC and MALISEET peoples whose ancestral lands cover most of the present-day Maritime provinces plus parts of the Gaspé peninsula. Unlike those treaties flowing from the principles outlined in the Royal Proclamation, the Maritime treaties do not directly deal with the sharing and apportionment of land title. Instead these agreements, whose keystones are the Boston Treaty of 1725 and the Halifax Treaty of 1752, were formalized primarily as a mutual promises of peace and friendship between the English and the Aboriginal people. The agreements also guarantee the Indian right to trade without hindrance, their right to fish and hunt in their customary manner plus their right to receive annual supplies from the Crown of food, provisions and ammunition.
Crown officials negotiated these treaties first with the Wabanaki Confederacy, of which the Maliseet were a part, and then with the closely related Mi'kmaq in an era when these Aboriginal people were overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. They were often very deeply attached to their priests and also to the French-speaking Acadians, with whom they were often closely connected through intermarriage. This attachment to their French neighbours made these Aboriginal people potential and sometimes actual military opponents of the British, a stance that was modified somewhat through the commitments exchanged in the treaty-making process.
In 1985 the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the continuing force of the Treaty of 1752 by reversing a conviction for hunting out of season against James Simon of the Shubenacadie reserve. In spite of this high court ruling on the Simon case, however, provincial governments in the Maritimes, like elsewhere in Canada, have difficulty accepting that treaties between the Crown and Aboriginal peoples limit some provincial jurisdictions in Crown lands.
The most volatile era in the history of treaty relations between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown occurred between the outset of the SEVEN YEARS' WAR in 1754 and the close of the WAR OF 1812 in 1814. During this period North America was the scene of intense warfare first between the imperial forces of France and Great Britain, then between the revolutionaries of American independence and the loyalist proponents of a united empire, and finally between the armies of United States and British imperial Canada. In all these conflicts, Aboriginal nations in the interior held considerable power to influence events because of the capacity of their own fighting forces to do battle with deft effectiveness in conditions which were extremely difficult for European and Euro-North American soldiers. In many instances this fighting capacity, combined with the shrewd diplomatic skills of some of their negotiators, enabled Aboriginal groups to exercise the balance of power in tests of strength between non-Aboriginal contestants for North American hegemony.
Consequently, in the decades before the conclusion of the War of 1812, before relative peace descended on the new border separating what remained of British North America from the emergent American republic, various confederacies and associations of North American Indians rose to significant heights of influence on the world stage of changing global power relationships. They made treaties, waged war and generally defended and advanced their own self-interests through the elaboration of foreign policies that affect the geopolitical shape of the North American map even to this day. That is why researchers seeking to understand the contemporary constitutional meaning of existing Aboriginal and treaty rights, as recognized and affirmed in the country's supreme law, must look with particular care to the way Crown officials dealt with these issues during the era when the geopolitical integrity of Canada depended largely on the success of the land's defence as an Aboriginal territory and as the hinterland of the Montréal-based FUR TRADE.
Responding to the power of the French-Aboriginal alliance at the geopolitical basis of Canada's security, the British imperial government in 1755 took away direct responsibility from the local Anglo-American colonies for treaty making with Aboriginal nations. The architects of the new plan created a northern and southern branch of the British imperial Indian Department as extensions of the British military establishment directly under the authority of the King. The northern branch, with Covenant Chain expert Sir William JOHNSON at its head, was essentially the first seed of government for English-speaking Canada. There is a direct line of administrative continuity between Johnson's department, which polished and extended the old Covenant Chain, and Canada's modern-day Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Sir William Johnson, with the loving help of his Mohawk housekeeper and adviser, Molly BRANT, successfully neutralized the old French-Aboriginal alliance during the Seven Years' War through the negotiation of a series of treaties which guaranteed to native groups royal protection for their lands from the acquisitive grasp of Anglo-American colonists. One of these, the Easton Treaty of 1758, borrowed heavily not only from the Covenant Chain but also from the treaty-making conventions of the QUAKERS, who had developed their own Aboriginal policies in settling the colony of Pennsylvania.
After the British victory over the French in 1759 on the PLAINS OF ABRAHAM, Johnson made further treaties and agreements in the name of the British imperial sovereign with the so-called nine nations of Canada who inhabited several Catholic missions near Lake Ontario and along the St Lawrence Valley. These transactions promised the Aboriginal people security of their habitations and the freedom to trade and to pray in their own chosen manner. One of the transactions, conducted at Longueuil with a HURON delegation, was the subject of the litigation that resulted in 1990 in the ground-breaking Supreme Court ruling on the Sioui case.
The Royal Proclamation of 1763
Once the French army had been defeated in North America, the British government faced squarely the question of how to conduct relations with the Aboriginal peoples who still dominated and controlled most of their ancestral lands throughout the vast expanses of Canada. In that era Canada was generally understood to include the northern portion of the huge Mississippi Valley, where many of the indigenous peoples had been drawn into the cross-cultural network of commercial, military, diplomatic and religious relationships whose strategic core was the Montréal-based fur trade. When British imperialists replaced French imperialists in Montréal and Québec City, they largely continued and even advanced many of the Aboriginal policies that were essential to the continuation of the geopolitical coherence of Canada as territory reserved to the Aboriginal people as a fur-trade preserve.
Sir William Johnson with his experience from the Covenant Chain was an essential figure in the smooth transition of Canada from a domain of French-Aboriginal alliance to a domain of British-Aboriginal alliance. His advice was pivotal in formulating the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which in theory created clear borders for the new British province of Quebec, for the vast Aboriginal territory beyond the Appalachian Mountain Chain and for the 13 older Anglo-American colonies. The proclamation also laid out a procedure for the future opening of portions of Aboriginal territory for colonization and settlement by the Crown's non-Aboriginal subjects. That procedure established the basic principles for the negotiation of Crown-Aboriginal treaties in British North America and, after 1867, in the Dominion of Canada. These principles are still being applied right up to the present in modern-day treaties being made with Aboriginal peoples in, for instance, the Province of British Columbia.
The language of the proclamation hints at mistakes that had been made in the long history of British colonization of North America before 1763. It refers to the "Great Frauds and Abuses" that previously had been committed "in purchasing Lands of the Indians." These frauds had created "Great Prejudice" to the British imperial interest because they had produced "Great Dissatisfaction" among those Aboriginal people whose neutrality or alliance the Crown had sought in recent wars with the French. What the king meant to correct, therefore, was the dangerous and expensive frontier hell of unrelenting native warfare. He also sought to inject some order and regularity into a tangled mess of unclear land tenure and conflicting territorial claims that would inevitably continue as long as there were no clearly established rules for the transfer of lands from Aboriginal peoples to non-Aboriginal people on the western frontiers of Anglo-American settlement.
The king set out to eliminate this chaos by "reserving" much of the North American interior to the several First "Nations or Tribes with whom We are connected" as "their Hunting Grounds." He also imposed himself and his royal heirs as the sole authority authorized to purchase portions of this huge reserve from its Aboriginal inhabitants. Henceforth no private person or individual colony could purchase territory through treaties directly from the Aboriginal people. Addressing his subjects and posterity in the royal "We," King George proclaimed "if at any Time any of the said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said Lands, the same shall be Purchased for Us, in our Name, at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians, to be held for the Purpose." Henceforth all future treaty making with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada would be directly with the actual person whose Crown embodies the sovereignty of the British Empire.
Pontiac's Patriotic Stand
The Royal Proclamation represented a synthesis of many constitutional and strategic principles that had been refined in the Covenant Chain, in expanding the western frontiers of Anglo-American settlement and in Crown treaty making to win the neutrality and in some cases the alliance of Aboriginal fighting forces in the Seven Years' War. Another factor in the genesis of the document was reaction in London to the military successes of an emerging Aboriginal confederacy, whose fighting forces captured nine British posts in Canada in the spring of 1763. That confederacy, animated by the spiritual vision of a Delaware prophet named Neolin and the strategic insights of an OTTAWA leader named PONTIAC, had captured the British posts in the Great Lakes area to demonstrate that Aboriginal peoples were still masters of their own ancestral lands, even though the British had defeated the French army. The patriotic assertions of the movement around Pontiac strengthened the resolve of Tory officials in London to produce an Aboriginal policy sufficiently respectful of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada that they would resolve themselves to live as allies rather than enemies of the British imperial sovereign.
The Treaty of Fort Stanwix, 1768
When the major fur-trade companies of Pennsylvania made claims against the British government for damages incurred during Pontiac's stand, Indian Department officials moved to compensate them through a major land transfer negotiated at Fort Stanwix in 1768. The Fort Stanwix Treaty, which was the first major transaction negotiated according to the terms of the Royal Proclamation, moved the border between Aboriginal territory and the Anglo-American colonies significantly westward to the banks of the Ohio River. The treaty was a source of considerable acrimony among Aboriginal nations, for the Shawnee and other groups lost much of their lands in a deal whose rewards went largely to Sir William Johnson's Iroquois friends. This experience acted as a catalyst in the emergence of some Shawnee leaders as hard-liners in the debate among the Aboriginal peoples of the Great Lakes-Ohio Valley area about who was authorized to cede land in treaties with representatives of the Anglo-American settlers. Until the end of the War of 1812, the Aboriginal hard-liners insisted on holding the British to their promises in the Fort Stanwix Treaty that the Ohio River was the firm eastern boundary of an internationally recognized Aboriginal territory.
Treaties and Land Speculators
Sir William Johnson, who was a land speculator himself, hoped that the Fort Stanwix Treaty would open up enough territory to satisfy the entrepreneurial wants of the business community in both the 13 colonies and Britain. Rather than satiating the appetite for new Aboriginal territories to transform into private property, however, the deal only fed the acquisitiveness of those land speculators whose activities so influenced the course of politics in those days.
Some of those speculators, whose political representatives included Benjamin Franklin in Pennsylvania and Lord Shelburne in Great Britain, attempted to counter the Royal Proclamation by insisting that Aboriginal nations had the legal authority to make ceding treaties directly with private colonization companies. Just when it seemed these powerful business interests were about to prevail, however, the British government responded in 1774 by attaching the royal machinery of Crown-Aboriginal relations in Canada directly to the administration of Québec colony. This feature of the QUEBEC ACT, which favoured the fur-trade interests of Montréal over the land-speculation interests of Philadelphia and the treaty rights of Aboriginals over the expansionistic aspirations of Anglo-American settlers, was a major factor in the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1776.
British Betrayal of the Crown's Aboriginal Allies in the Treaty of Paris, 1783
While many Aboriginal people tried to avoid getting mired in the civil war that swept over North America after 1776, many others appreciated that a victory for the British Crown would be less immediately menacing for Aboriginal peoples than a victory for the frustrated forces of western expansionism that drove the American Revolution forward. Those Mohawk who followed Joseph Brant were especially active allies of the British in the American Revolution. In spite of the important Indian role in the war effort, however, the diplomats who redrew the map of North America in 1783 paid no heed to the heritage of Crown treaties with the Aboriginal peoples of North America. In the TREATY OF PARIS, 1783 a new international border was created along the Great Lakes that completely ignored both the Covenant Chain and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix.
The geopolitical outcome of the American War of independence clarified the Eurocentric orientation of the world order in those days. When it came to the highest level of international treaty making, Indian nations were not even invited to the Paris negotiations though it was their lands that were traded back and forth as if they were subhumans with no inherent right to a say in charting their own political destinies. This racist relegation of treaty making with Aboriginal peoples to a lower order of law making that can be violated by non-Aboriginals with impunity, tends to continue until this day.
Many native people together with officials of the British army in North America were thunderstruck when they learned of the betrayal of the Crowns Aboriginal allies in the Treaty of Paris. To meet the resulting crisis Quebec Governor Frederick HALDIMAND made treaties with the Mississauga Aboriginal people north of Lake Ontario to open 2 large plots in 1784 for those among the Six Nations who opted to migrate rather than live under the jurisdiction of the US and New York State. In the years ahead Mohawk leader Joseph BRANT chose to sell individual parcels of his people's Grand River lands, otherwise known as the Haldimand Grant. He based this right to sell lands directly at full market value to non-Aboriginal buyers on the claim that his Six Nations community was not limited by the provisions in the Royal Proclamation, which prohibited transfers of Aboriginal territory to anyone but the British sovereign.
Greater Canada and the Crown-Aboriginal Alliance
Haldimand also prevailed in the decision of the British to retain possession of the military posts south of the Great Lakes as support for the Montréal-based fur trade, whose hinterland thus continued to include the northern portion of the Mississippi Valley. Similarly, retention of southernmost posts of greater Canada signalled to the Aboriginal peoples in the Aboriginal territory west of the Ohio River continued imperial support for Aboriginal resistance to the westward expansion of the Anglo-American settlement now carried forward by the new government of the US.
The system of treaty alliance between the Crown and the Aboriginal peoples of Canada briefly recovered from the setback inflicted on it by what the diplomats had done in Paris in 1783. Indeed, on the commercial level the alliance expanded and flourished as never before. That expansion was marked in the growth and prosperity of Montréal whose leading entrepreneurs rationalized their activities in the fur trade through organizing the NORTH WEST CO. Not only did the NWC hold and develop its trade network throughout the northern Mississippi Valley and thereby strengthen the Crown's alliances with the native people in that part of the country, the NWC's agents were also led by resourceful and multilingual Aboriginal guides to the West Coast and the northwesterly reaches of present-day Canada.
In so doing these NWC geographers, traders and diplomats, including Peter POND, Alexander MACKENZIE and David THOMPSON, expanded the influence of British imperialism and Canadian commerce throughout wider expanses of Aboriginal territory. They also sometimes rubbed up competitively against agents of the HUDSON'S BAY CO (HBC), who since 1670 had built upon their famous Charter to develop an extensive commercial presence among the Aboriginal peoples of what was then called RUPERT'S LAND and the NORTH-WEST TERRITORIES. Elaborate protocols of diplomatic and economic relations developed between Aboriginal people and HBC officials. These protocols might be conceptualized as the visible manifestation of treaty relations. Certainly the ceremonial aspects of Aboriginal-HBC negotiations came into play later in the 19th century when Crown officials negotiated the numbered treaties in order to gain Aboriginal sanction for the expansion of the Dominion of Canada onto their ancestral lands.
Treaties and Aboriginal Title
Back in the Great Lakes heartland of Canada, Aboriginal groups refused to accept the legitimacy of the new international boundary that cut their ancestral territory in half. Nor could they accept that their lands south of the new border now belonged to the United States or that the government of the US had authority over them. Officers of the British Imperial Indian Department, many of whom had Aboriginal ancestors, wives and mixed ancestry children, tended to share the consternation of their Aboriginal allies and family members. Under their urging the British government developed the official position that Britain had not actually ceded to the US the lands north of the Ohio River and south of the Great Lakes. All that had been transferred was the British sovereign's exclusive right to purchase land from the Aboriginal people according to the principles outlined in the Royal Proclamation. Thus the US could not actually claim jurisdiction in the Aboriginal territory west of the Ohio River line created in 1768 by the Fort Stanwix Treaty. All the US could claim was the sole right to purchase these lands from the Aboriginal people through treaties when the Aboriginal peoples so desired.
Not surprisingly the government of the US initially resisted this interpretation. In 1790 and 1791, however, the small and ill-organized army of the weak federal government were twice defeated by the well-armed fighting forces of a resurgent Aboriginal confederacy whose vitality had been resuscitated since the days of Pontiac. Those major defeats of the fledgling American army are sometimes remembered as Harmar's Humilation or St. Clair's Shame, after the vanquished American generals.
This turnabout in fortunes set in motion a flurry of diplomatic activity. In 1793 the government of the US seemingly bowed to the combined weight of the Aboriginal confederacy and the British government. At a council meeting with the Aboriginal people, officials announced that the US president had accepted that Aboriginal nations retained the property or right of the soil in the great Country west of the Ohio River. This acknowledgement has major constitutional implications to this day, when there is still considerable argument about whether Aboriginal title, the legal construct at the heart of many treaty negotiations, is merely a right to occupy and use land, or whether this right runs deeper to, for instance, ownership of subsurface mineral rights.
A Sovereign Aboriginal Nation-State
The Aboriginal victories over the American army prompted the British government to adopt a strategy that was intermittently pursued until the end of the War of 1812. The imperial government adopted the secret position that it would support and encourage the Aboriginal confederacy to the point where that polity could assert international sovereignty over the lands between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes. The envisaged country, which would probably have been called Indiana, is often referred to as the Indian Buffer State.
In the eyes of British imperialists this sovereign Aboriginal nation-state was to have acted as a wedge shielding what remained of British North America from the expansionistic designs of the new American republic, whose most aggressive ideologues increasingly viewed the whole of the North American continent as the US's God-given inheritance of a manifest destiny. Thus the system of treaty alliance between the Crown and the Aboriginal peoples of Canada found its highest and most ambitious expression in this geopolitical strategy. The ultimate object of the alliance was to elevate the Aboriginal confederacy to full international sovereignty, much as the French government had elevated the American revolutionaries through treaties towards sovereign standing in the international community.
Jays Treaty, 1794
The prospects for creating the new Aboriginal nation-state suffered a setback when the fighting forces of the Aboriginal confederacy suffered defeat in 1794 at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Responding to this development the British government made a treaty in 1794 with the US government in which Crown officials agreed to withdraw from the British posts south of the Great Lakes by 1796. The terms of the agreement, known as the Jays Treaty, included provisions stipulating that North American Indians could continue to pass back and forth across the international border without impediment. This stipulation was included at the insistence of the British largely so that the fur-trade operations of Montréal would not be too abruptly dismembered from their commercial relations with native people in the northern Mississippi Valley.
As a treaty between Great Britain and the US, the Jays Treaty is not technically an Indian treaty. Its terms, however, have had important long-term implications for native peoples on both sides of the Canada-US border. This agreement has been honoured by the US government to the extent that registered Indians from Canada have been able to live and work in the US without restriction. The treaty is not recognized as binding by the government of Canada, a position that is periodically challenged, especially by those Aboriginal groups such as the Six Nations OJIBWA and BLACKFOOT peoples, whose ancestral lands have been bisected by the Canada-US border.
Tecumseh and Indian Treaties as Instruments of International Law
The prospects and possibilities of a sovereign nation-state to embody the identity and purpose of a multicultural Aboriginal confederacy re-emerged with rejuvenated vigour in the first decade of the 19th century as relations between Great Britain and the US deteriorated primarily due to the widening influence of the Napoleonic Wars. At the heart of the movement to create a new country in the contested lands south of the Great Lakes were 2 Shawnee brothers who implored Aboriginal peoples to overcome their ethnic differences and squabbles and to unite as one. Only thus could they defend their dwindling lands against the growing incursions of Anglo-American settlers and the US government.
At first the religious visionary Tenskwatawa was the most influential of the siblings. When he related his prophetic revelations to others, he created a large religious stir, especially among Algonquian-speakers of several nationalities. Some of them flocked to be by his side, creating the new Aboriginal community of Prophetstown south of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Tippecanoe River.
As Tenskwatawa's religious charisma captured the imaginations of a growing following in Aboriginal territory, TECUMSEH, the Shawnee prophet's brother, began to give the movement a more explicit political direction and content. As a North American war between the US and Britain became more imminent, Tecumseh travelled with growing urgency to address diverse Aboriginal audiences on the necessity of coordinated action on their part. He soon was widely acknowledged as a brilliant orator and strategist capable of instilling a tremendous spirit of patriotic resistance among peoples of differing Aboriginal identities who had finally found a leader capable of transcending many of the old jealousies that had too often sabotaged the military and diplomatic effectiveness of the Aboriginal confederacy.
In Tecumseh's view, Aboriginal people could no longer allow the American government and people to overwhelm their lands by dealing with them as many small individual tribes. The great Shawnee strategist was particularly critical of those native individuals who American officials sometimes bribed or made drunk in order to get them to sign numerous ceding treaties that surrendered land to the US government for a mere 2 cents per acre on average. What Tecumseh proposed instead was a policy that would treat all the territory held by all the constituencies of the Aboriginal confederacy as a unified whole. Hence the only body that would be authorized to make a treaty with any foreign power would be the central council representing the full Aboriginal confederacy in all its constituent parts.
Probably Tecumseh had developed this position by drawing on ideas from the old Longhouse League and from the federal organization of the US Constitution. What is sure is that his objective was to elevate the treaty-making authority of his own people above the level of domestic contract to the level of full-fledged international relations. To assert this degree of sovereignty the Aboriginal confederacy would need an internally coherent central government, a strong and effective fighting force and a powerful ally who would support their international status militarily, diplomatically and economically. Great Britain could be that ally. As Tecumseh recognized, however, it fell primarily on Aboriginal people themselves to generate the unity, will and ingenuity needed to counter the emerging American plan to destroy and absorb Aboriginal territory, whether through murder, forced assimilation of its Aboriginal inhabitants or forced relocation of native groups to Louisiana territory beyond the Mississippi.
The War of 1812
The Shawnee strategists' independence of action was compromised in 1811 after the American force of General William Henry Harrison overran the confederacy's capital at Tippecanoe. This defeat forced Tecumseh towards closer links with the British Imperial Indian Department, whose officials he never entirely trusted. Nevertheless the confederacy's leading voice accepted a commission as brigadier general of the British army, as clear an expression as possible of the martial character of the Crown-Aboriginal alliance on which the defence of Canada largely depended.
When trade embargoes and conflicts at sea finally sparked the War of 1812, the rapid mobilization of the confederacy's fighting forces were a major deciding factor in the early course of the conflict in the Great Lakes area. Especially decisive was the role of the Aboriginal people in the British takeover of Michillimackinac and the particularly strategic post of Detroit. The taking of Detroit bought the British government the crucial time needed to move sufficient regular soldiers from the European theatre to the frontier province of Upper Canada. The events of 1812, therefore, represent a huge vindication on the British side for the utility of the treaty system of Crown-Aboriginal alliances that had coalesced over generations from the Covenant Chain to the Royal Proclamation to the plan to establish an Aboriginal buffer state. This line of British policy became the essential factor leading to the early defence of Canada in the War of 1812, a defence that would probably have failed, with enormous consequences for all North Americans, without the strategic Aboriginal involvement.
For those on the Aboriginal side of the alliance, the outcome was more tragic, although not altogether so. After Tecumseh was killed in battle in 1813, the Aboriginal confederacy largely disintegrated. In the years that followed the Americans did largely destroy the Aboriginal territory east of the Mississippi in a huge scheme to transport all the Aboriginal inhabitants to a designated Aboriginal territory that is now the State of Oklahoma. That forced relocation is remembered in the US as the Trail of Tears. Rather than move West, however, many native people from south of the Great Lakes migrated northward, behind the border that had been established in 1783 but did not became firmly established until 1814, when the TREATY OF GHENT ended the hostilities, and with these the possibility of an internationally-recognized Aboriginal nation-state west of the Ohio River. Many of the descendants of those Aboriginal peoples, whose lands were so dubiously ceded by Britain to the US, live in the reserves and native settlements throughout southern Ontario and along the north shore of the upper Great Lakes.
The legacy of this pivotal chapter in Canadian and Aboriginal history lives on through them. The legacy also continues to the extent that the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights recognized in the Constitution are still capable of helping to generate a new kind of Aboriginal territory based on the sharing of lands, resources, jurisdictions and cultures. Only thus can Canada thrive as a land of allies rather than adversaries, where Aboriginal identities are sustained and celebrated rather than extinguished and denied.
As United Empire Loyalists moved to Quebec in the years after the American Revolution, many of them settled upstream from Montreal and then along the northern shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The provisions of the Royal Proclamation were loosely and sometimes carelessly applied in obtaining permission of the Mississauga people, a branch of the Ojibwa or Anishnabek people, for this influx of settlement. Part of this process of treaty making was to obtain lands in the Grand River Valley and the Bay of Quinte area for those largely Mohawk groups whose move marked the beginning of the LOYALIST migration. This migration resulted in the division of Quebec into 2 jurisdictions, Lower and Upper Canada. Upper Canada was hugely expanded as Ontario after 1871. Ontario is certainly the jurisdiction in North America where lands have been subject to the most diverse motifs of Crown-Aboriginal treaty making over the longest span of time.
Canadian Governor-General Lord Dorchester attempted to correct the Crown's sometimes careless approach to treaty making in 1794. In preparing to move the capital of Upper Canada from Niagara-on-the-Lake to York, now the site of Toronto, it was discovered that there was little evidence to prove the Crown had properly documented the purchase of the future city site. To correct the problems that had been identified, Lord Dorchester directed that a new agreement be made with the Mississauga. With an eye to the importance of the Crown-Aboriginal alliance to the security of Canada, he directed that all future treaty negotiations should be conducted "with great Solemnity and Ceremony according to the Ancient Usages and Customs of the Indians."
These instructions renewed and enhanced a tradition that, with a few notable lapses, was generally followed in the making of subsequent treaties throughout the 19th century. An important element of this tradition, going back to Lord Dorchester's instructions, concerns a strict prohibition on the distribution and consumption of alcohol during treaty transactions. This prohibition contrasts rather starkly with a relatively common practice in the US, where Aboriginal negotiators were sometimes encouraged to become inebriated in order to undermine their better judgement and thus to gain their marks on treaty documents they might not otherwise have ratified.
Before the end of the War of 1812, land treaties with the Mississauga north of the Great Lakes were negotiated within a far larger cycle of Crown treaty making with the diplomats of the Aboriginal confederacy, whose main objective was to secure sovereign recognition of the Aboriginal nation-state. Once a relative peace prevailed after 1814, the bargaining power of native peoples diminished, although the martial character of the old alliance was renewed annually, until the late 1850s, at elaborate ceremonies at the British posts on the Great Lakes, where Crown officials distributed extensive "presents" to the Aboriginal veterans and their families. By the mid-1830s treaties covered most of the arable lands in Upper Canada south of the Canadian Shield. These treaties involved an initial distribution by the Crown of goods and money together with promises of small annual payments. Often these annual payments became intertwined with the Indian Department's distribution of presents at the British bases. Only gradually in the evolution of the treaty system did the principle develop that these agreements should include provision for the establishment of clearly demarcated Aboriginal reserves, which in theory the Crown held for the use and benefit of its Aboriginal allies.
The Bond Head Treaties
In 1836 Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Bond HEAD conceived of a dramatic shift in Aboriginal policy which he attempted to realize through the negotiation of treaties with a variety of Aboriginal groups, including the Wyandot or Huron near Windsor, the Saugeen Anishnabek and a group of largely Protestant Anishinabek who had established a transportation company along the strategic old Toronto Portage route between Lake Simcoe and Georgian Bay. Bond Head's objective was to cancel all church and government efforts to remake Aboriginal people in the model of Christian Euro-Canadian pioneer farmers. Instead this official wanted farming Aboriginal people to fulfil his romantic stereotype of noble savagery by moving to Manitoulin Island, where they could hunt and fish in relative isolation from the supposedly corrosive forces of so-called civilization.
The designation of Manitoulin as a permanent Aboriginal territory was carried out in a treaty at the present-distribution ceremonies at Manitowaning in 1836. The plan was to use Manitoulin to receive not only the displaced Aboriginal agriculturalists from Upper Canada - but also the expected Aboriginal refugees from south of the Great Lakes, whose lands the American people and government were now busily making their own.
Because Bond Head's plan seemed consistent with a rudimentary form of apartheid then being advanced by the British government for South Africa, the plan was initially accepted by the Colonial Office. Soon, however, Bond Head's dubiously transacted treaties attracted the ire in Britain of the Aborigines' Protection Society, a Protestant coalition which drew most of its members from the alumni of the antislavery movement. Largely because of this activism the British Colonial Office reverted back to the policy first adopted in 1830, that of encouraging Aboriginal peoples to adopt the religion, work habits and mores of their Euro-Canadian neighbours. Imperial authorities, however, never annulled the Bond Head treaties, which the APS identified as unjust land deals whose surface rationale disguised a more cynical scheme aimed at satisfying the land hunger of the lieutenant-governor's political friends.
Bond Head never had much success persuading Aboriginal people in the more arable southern lands to move to Manitoulin. In fact in making the treaty with the Saugeen people, he found that what they mostly wanted was a commitment that the Crown would protect them from squatters on at least a delimited portion of their ancestral lands. In responding to Aboriginal demands, Bond Head also promised the Saugeen that "proper Houses shall be built for you, and proper Assistance given to enable to become civilized and cultivate Land, which your Great Father engages for ever to protect for you from the Encroachments of Whites."
These words go far to capture the nature of the tradeoffs in this and many subsequent treaties. The Aboriginal people agree to open the largest part of their ancestral lands for non-Aboriginal settlement in return for security of land tenure in a smaller area or areas. In addition, the government promises them sufficient resources and education to help the community adapt to the new economic and social modes of life that the newcomers would bring with them.
The principle that treaties could create a secure form of tenure for Aboriginal reserves was advanced in 1850, when Crown representative William Benjamin Robinson secured agreement from Aboriginal leaders to "cede, grant and convey unto Her Majesty" about 50 000 square mi2 (129 500 km2) north of the upper Great Lakes. These transactions, known as the Robinson-Huron and Robinson-Superior treaties, included provision for the creation of 21 new Aboriginal reserves, each to be held by the Crown for the "use and benefit" of the respective native groups whose leaders' names and marks were listed on the agreements.
Also part of the bargain were initial payments worth a total of £4000, plus "perpetual" annuities valued at £1100 to be distributed among all the Aboriginal people covered by the treaties. Officials of what was now the Province of Canada had been pressured to authorize treaty negotiations on the one hand by Governor General Lord Elgin, and on the other by Chief Shinguakouce and his followers. In a relatively minor confrontation given the overblown title of the Michipicoten War, the latter had asserted in 1849 their uncompromised Aboriginal interest in Precambrian Shield territories, where Canadian entrepreneurs had already begun minor mining operations.
In the Robinson treaties which resulted, a Crown commitment was made that Aboriginal people could hunt and fish throughout the ceded territory "as they have heretofore been in the habit of doing." This promise, the first of its kind in an Aboriginal treaty, was made, explained Robinson, so that Aboriginal people could not make future claims of support in return for loss of "their usual means of support."
Saugeen and Manitoulin Treaties
The 2 final major pre-Confederation treaties were signed in 1854 and 1862. They cover, respectively, the Saugeen Peninsula north of Owen Sound, and part of Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron. By the terms of rather unusual treaties obtained in 1836 by Upper Canadian Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Bond Head, both of these regions had been specifically reserved for Aboriginal people, which was one of the factors heightening the atmosphere of acrimony that generally characterized the making of the remaining settlements of the pre-Confederation era.
In both instances, Aboriginal sanction of the deals was secured under sordid and somewhat dubious legal circumstances. It seems that Crown regard for native interests had diminished with the declining military significance of the Aboriginal people in the international balance of power in the Great Lakes area.
The Saugeen and Manitoulin treaties stipulated that native groups involved would receive regular interest payments on funds obtained from all Crown sales of the ceded territories. This promise, the subject of controversy in the future, proved insufficient to attract the participation of an entire community of Roman Catholic Odawa [Ottawa] Aboriginal people on the eastern portion of Manitoulin Island. In concert with the Jesuit missionaries who lived among them, these Odawas successfully resisted efforts of Crown officials to persuade or coerce them into signing the Manitoulin treaty. As a result, to this day Wikwemikong, Ont, remains an unceded Aboriginal reserve.
Confederation in 1867 set the stage for Canada's purchase from the Hudson's Bay Co of Rupert's Land and the North-West Territories. The various legal instruments which formalized the transfer included stipulations that the Canadian government would assume responsibility for the "protection" and "well-being" of the region's Aboriginal residents.
Moreover, the duty of compensating Aboriginal people for any interest they maintained in the annexed territory was to fall to the Dominion. Hence, the system of treaty making that had evolved in Upper Canada was exported westward. Between 1871 and 1877 Crown representatives met with Aboriginal delegations to negotiate a series of transactions covering most of the present-day Prairie provinces as well as northwestern Ontario. These resulted in the first seven of Canada's eleven so-called "numbered treaties."
The development of the treaty system throughout much of western Canada was based as much on economic pragmatism as it was on any particular legal view of Aboriginal rights. During the 1870s the US government was spending over $20 million a year fighting Plains Aboriginal people. This amount was larger than the entire budget of the whole central government in Canada; with these facts of finance before them, federal officials chose to rely heavily on treaties to bring about a relative degree of peaceful acquiescence among the 35 000 Aboriginal inhabitants of the territories scheduled to be opened up for settlement.
Crown officials conducting the initial numbered treaty negotiations were instructed to offer Aboriginal people terms approximately similar to those detailed in the Robinson treaties. The native delegations in these and subsequent bargaining sessions, however, made it clear that more was expected. Typically, the Aboriginal participants in Treaty No 1 to Treaty No 7 sought commitments from the Dominion government, including the building of schools on newly established Aboriginal reserves, the supply of farm implements, seeds, farm animals and instruction in agricultural techniques, and the prohibition of the liquor trade in native communities.
Generally such demands were met by the Crown in agreements which also made the more traditional provisions for hunting and fishing rights, annuities, the furnishing of medals, flags and chiefs' uniforms, and initial lump-sum payments. The most comprehensive of all the agreements was Treaty No 6. Its largely Cree negotiators exacted a commitment that their people would be supplied with medicine when needed. Similarly, an explicit promise was obtained that if Treaty No 6 Aboriginal people were to experience "any pestilence" or "general famine," Crown officials would undertake to do all that was necessary to relieve them of the calamity.
In deciding whether or not to enter these agreements with the Crown, the Ojibwa, Cree and Assiniboine Aboriginal people often faced a horizon of fairly limited choices. It was generally made clear to them that non-native newcomers would soon be taking control of most of their lands whether or not treaty deals were reached. Thus they had the option either of fighting to resist the incursion of outsiders, perhaps ineffectively, or they could accept some government assistance in making adjustments to the enormous changes that were surely coming down on the land. For native people on the Prairies, the demise of the great life-sustaining buffalo herds made the prospects for the future seem especially bleak. Thus, to some Aboriginal people the treaties seemed to present an avenue of adaptation at a moment when all other paths of survival appeared blocked.
Nevertheless, not all Aboriginal groups believed that their interests were best served by entering into treaty relationships with the Crown. And among those who favoured treaties, there were significant disagreements about the nature of the demands that should be made of the young Dominion government. Generally, Crown negotiations dealt first with the leaders of those Aboriginal factions most desirous of securing payments for their land. The strategy was gradually to isolate the most conservative groups, who eventually would accept the terms of treaties once the outcome they held out for the Aboriginal people was made to appear as inevitable.
These tactics were especially prominent in the negotiations by which Alexander MORRIS obtained for the Crown the territory covered by Treaty No 3. In attempting to follow a similar course in 1876, when the North Saskatchewan River became the major site of the Dominion's treaty-making initiatives, Morris met with particularly uncompromising resistance.
Those Cree families following BIG BEAR, Little Pine and Lucky Man steadfastly refused to accept the treaty offers extended to them. They could not bring themselves to settle for a future confined to the narrow boundaries of Aboriginal reserves, at least as long as there were still buffalo left to hunt. In later years, however, the pressure of starvation eventually forced most of them into various treaty adhesions. Perhaps the most determined holdout was Big Bear; however, in 1882 even he accepted treaty payments in order that his few remaining followers could survive the winter.
By and large the Aboriginal leaders who most readily accepted the treaties were Christians. Their missionaries were often important go-betweens in encouraging a degree of trust between Crown representatives and native groups. Also prominent among those advancing the treaty process were a number of MÉTIS, who were perhaps best placed to act as intermediaries between Aboriginal people and newcomers at this crucial time of transition for both societies.
The Canadian government attempted to acknowledge the special relationship of the Métis to the treaty proceedings, by paying half-breeds for their Aboriginal inheritance in the form of dollar-valued land certificates known as scrip. Unfortunately, however, efforts to implement this program were often undermined by the largely fraudulent activities of "jobbers," who succeeded in amassing to themselves the major portions of the resources originally earmarked for the Métis communities.
The North-West Mounted Police
The newly formed NORTH-WEST MOUNTED POLICE also became an important factor in the negotiation process. Following their arrival in 1874 in the area of present-day southwest Alberta, the NWMP became especially influential among many of the region's Blackfoot, Piegan, Blood, Sarcee and Stoney inhabitants. The police force had earned esteem with the demonstrated capacity to protect Aboriginal people from the outrageous exploitative practices of the American whisky traders who had become so domineering in that part of the country. It was in the newly created atmosphere of relative law and order that CROWFOOT, Red Crow and many other Aboriginal leaders felt assured enough of the Crown's benevolence to sign Treaty No 7. According to oral testimony, however, this treaty was regarded by those on the Aboriginal side of the agreement primarily as a promise to keep the peace. Land tenure and lands rights were discussed hardly at all.
The 1885 North-West Resistance (see NORTH-WEST REBELLION) demonstrated for the Dominion government the importance of making some effort to fulfil the Crown's treaty obligations. A large-scale Aboriginal rebellion had been shown to be a real possibility, unless positive moves were made to keep native people at least minimally appeased. After 1877, however, the process of making new treaties was to be put aside until the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s.
With the opening of a new resource frontier in the North, there was pressure once again to extinguish Aboriginal title. The level of native sanction for the terms of Treaty No 8 was limited at best. Moreover, the 1899 agreement made provision for the allocation of Aboriginal reserves, many of which were never established. These basic features of the treaty were essentially duplicated by the transaction formalized in 1921, following the discovery of oil in the Mackenzie Valley.
Some Aboriginal signatures were obtained on Treaty No 11, a document whose provisions were never implemented in any meaningful way. Hence, the Dene residents of the Mackenzie Valley would in later years pursue LAND CLAIM settlements with the federal government based on the premise that for them, Treaty Nos 8 and 11 are not binding to the extent that they have not been implemented.
The remaining numbered treaties, 9 and 10, cover territories in northern Ontario and northern Saskatchewan, respectively. The negotiation of the former in 1905 saw the participation of Ontario government officials along with federal authorities. The implication was that the costs of purchasing Aboriginal title were to be shared between the 2 levels of government. These negotiations offer the only example of provincial participation in any of the numbered treaties. When Treaty No 10 was made the following year, Saskatchewan officials were not included for, unlike Ontario, this newly created provincial jurisdiction then lacked any direct constitutional powers over natural resources.
This major round of treaty making which had begun so boldly in the 1870s came to a whimpering close in the 1920s. Investigation of various archives had revealed an absence of papers formalizing native land cessions for parcels of territory in central and southern Ontario. As a result, government officials quietly went about in 1923 gathering Aboriginal signatures on a treaty document intended to patch over a series of historical oversights which together placed in question legal title to some of the most valuable real estate in Canada. In 1929 Treaty 9 was extended into the northwesterly reaches of Ontario through an adhesion of Ojibwa, Cree and Oji-Cree people at Big Trout Lake.
It was in Ontario and the Prairie provinces, then, where the development of a system of land tenure was most firmly founded on the negotiation of Aboriginal treaties. Elsewhere in the country (ie, in most of BC, the Yukon, the NWT, Québec and the Maritimes), larger-scale non-native settlement proceeded without prior purchase by the Crown of Aboriginal title. Even so, reserves were allocated for Aboriginal people living on provincial unceded territories. These reserves became the home of registered Aboriginal people who, while lacking treaties, nevertheless fell under the direct administrative control of ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT in Ottawa.
This ministry has tended to feel itself more governed by the details of the federal INDIAN ACT than by the provisions of specific Aboriginal treaties. Hence, the fine legal distinctions between treaty Indians and registered Aboriginal people not covered by treaties have tended to become blurred under the standardizing regime of the Indian Act. Similarly, throughout most of the 20th century there has been little inclination on the part of the majority population to grapple politically with the legal fact that Aboriginal title has never been ceded over large parts of the country.
Aboriginal people from BC were largely responsible for breaking through the weight of political inertia that had set in around Aboriginal land questions since the early 1920s. Although some treaties had been made in the 1850s on Vancouver Island, BC officials since then have consistently resisted the view that native people throughout the unceded portion of the province have inherent Aboriginal rights. The NISGA'A people of the Nass River valley have long been particularly forceful in opposing this position. Their activism eventually resulted in the Supreme Court of Canada passing down in 1973 a split decision which suggested that Aboriginal title may indeed be a legally identifiable layer of interest still at the basis of the land tenure system throughout most of BC. This decision ultimately resulted in the Nisga'a winning their land claim, the first treaty in BC since 1899.
The Supreme Court's finding on the Nisga'a case was one of several key developments which helped cast the whole subject of Aboriginal rights into the spotlight of public attention in Canada during the 1970s. The pivotal event had been the publication in 1969 of a federal White Paper on Aboriginal policy, which reflected the political ideology of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He advocated the eventual removal of special status for Aboriginal people by, among other initiatives, drawing treaties to a close.
To Trudeau, whose political career had largely been built in opposing special constitutional status for the Province of Québec, it was an "anomaly" to have treaties between groups within Canadian society. Native people strongly opposed the White Paper and became far more organized and vocal as a result. Their bargaining hand was considerably strengthened in 1973 by the Supreme Court's Nisga'a decision. The result of these developments was a change in federal policy.
An Office of Native Claims was established as a forum to resolve land disputes between Aboriginal groups and government authorities. The ONC defines 2 types of claims, specific and comprehensive; it is the latter type that essentially amounts to modern-day treaty negotiations. A comprehensive claim can be made for any part of Canada where Aboriginal title has never been ceded.
The 1975 JAMES BAY AGREEMENT could be described as a modern-day treaty. As in earlier times a move to open up a new resource frontier - in this case to develop the hydroelectric potential of the rivers flowing into the eastern half of James Bay - led to the negotiations with native people. Although the enormous hydroelectric project was initiated in the early 1970s without their sanction, the area's Cree and Inuit forced their assertion of unceded Aboriginal rights on provincial and federal officials through an aggressive use of both the courts and the media.
In the complex negotiated settlement that resulted, a variety of new features were added to those more similar to older Indian treaties. Most significantly, the agreement established a basis for various institutions of Cree and Inuit self-government, such as school boards and health and social service agencies. In 1978 the Northeastern Québec Agreement was concluded with the Naskapi band of Shefferville. It is basically an adjunct of the James Bay Agreement.
A new treaty was formalized in 1984. It was an agreement between the federal government and the 2500 Inuvialuit people of the NWT's oil- and gas-rich Beaufort Sea area. Although an agreement in principle was reached in 1978, the precise details of the final bargain were not worked out until 1983. The settlement reserves to the Inuvialuit 95 000 of the 430 000 km2 that they traditionally used. Moreover, it is made explicit that the Inuvialuit are to receive royalties on any oil or gas extraction that takes place on their land.
In order to hasten this development, a provision was added that any such royalties would remain tax-free until the year 2008. Moreover, the agreement foresaw the participation of the Inuvialuit in a limited form of local self-government through the creation of the Western Arctic Regional Municipality.
The negotiation of modern-day treaties stagnated during the first mandate of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. This relegation of Aboriginal affairs to a low priority between 1984 and 1988, however, backfired on the federal government during Mulroney's second term in office. In June of 1990 Elijah Harper, an Oji-Cree MLA from Manitoba, used a procedural maneuvre to block the entrenchment of a sweeping revision to the Canadian constitution that had been negotiated at MEECH LAKE (see MEECH LAKE ACCORD: DOCUMENT) by the 11 first ministers without Aboriginal representation. The next month an argument over a proposed golf course between the Mohawk of Kanesatake and the town council of Oka flared into an armed standoff with large repercussions on the relations between Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginals throughout Canada.
The publicity and instability resulting from both these events led to the infusion of new political capital into the search for a more harmonious regime of Aboriginal affairs in Canada. In 1991 a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was created to help realize this objective just as a more concentrated surge of political will was invested into the process of modern-day treaty making.
This surge of energy has been most evident in the federal territories north of 60 degrees, where bilateral negotiations led to the making of the GWICH'IN Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement in 1993, the NUNAVUT Land Claims Agreement in 1993, the Sahtu Dene and Métis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement in 1994 and also in 1994 the Umbrella Final Agreement with the Council for Yukon Indians. The Yukon Agreement creates the larger infrastructure for 4 more detailed agreements with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, the First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, the Teslin Tlingit Council and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.
The Nunavut agreement marks a major watershed in the process of dividing the Northwest Territories into 2 distinct jurisdictions. The easternmost of the jurisdictions is known as Nunavut, where Inuit language and culture are being entrenched on the basis of a public government that covers the 2.6 km2 traditionally used by the 17 000 native participants in the treaty. These Inuit and their descendants will retain title to 352 000 km2. About one-tenth of this amount includes subsurface mineral rights. By the year 2007 the Inuit will have been payed 14 instalments totalling $1 173 000 000. They will also be payed 5% of the royalties which the federal government collects for resource exploitation on Nunavut lands.
Far more contentious has been the negotiation of modern-day treaties in the Mackenzie Valley, where Crown commitments in Treaties 8 and 11 remain largely unfulfilled. Before 1990 the negotiation for a new treaty in this area was carried forward on the Aboriginal side through an overarching collaboration linking different Dene groups with the Métis of the region. After 1990 this common front broke down on a disagreement over the principle of whether or not modern-day treaties were acceptable with language that seemed to extinguish rather than confirm Aboriginal rights. Perceiving themselves as pragmatists rather than purists, members of the Gwich'in Tribal Council agreed in 1991 to "cede, release and surrender to Her Majesty in the Right of Canada all their Aboriginal claims, rights, titles and interests" to "lands and waters anywhere within Canada." The agreement also includes a clause "to indemnify and forever save harmless" the Canadian government from all future Gwich'in actions, suits and claims of Crown liability.
In return for sanctioning this sweeping language, the Gwich'in are to receive $73 million. Moreover their communities receive "Gwich'in title" to about 22 000 km2, about one-quarter of which includes subsurface mineral rights. The Sahtu Dene along with their Métis relatives in the Great Bear Lake region settled for similar terms 2 years later. Their treaty, like that of that of the Gwich'in and those of the Yukon First Nations, includes provision for significant Aboriginal representation on various boards and tribunals set up to deal with matters as diverse as wildlife management, heritage, training, labour, parks and environmental planning. Through these and other instruments, modern-day treaties are affecting the evolution of virtually all government institutions in the federal territories in ways that go beyond anything so far tried in the provinces of Canada.
Developing on what was done in the James Bay Treaty of 1975 and the Inuvialuit Treaty of 1984, the more recent treaties in the federal territories enable Aboriginal communities to set up a wide variety of municipal and corporate structures to provide services and to participate as shareholders in the exploitation of natural resources. In addition, these more recent agreements, unlike earlier ones, include some provision to establish procedures for the settlement of disputes involving contending interpretations of how the treaties should be interpreted and implemented.
The negotiation of modern-day treaties has been especially difficult in the Canadian provinces, where 3 rather than 2 kinds of government must agree in order to reach resolution. Nevertheless in 1992 negotiations with some BC First Nations began to move under the impetus of a new NDP government. That led to the basic outlines of an agreement in 1996 with the political leadership of the Nisga'a people. The deal puts the 6000 Nisga'a in firm control of 2000 of the 24 000 mi2 of their ancestral territory. In addition they stand eventually to receive a total of $200 million expanded timber rights plus municipallike powers to make some of their own laws and to deliver some of their own services.
One of the most contentious features of the deal involves the future of the Nass River fishery. The Nisga'a negotiated to hold onto about a quarter part of that resource, although the provisions specifying that portion are excluded from the part of the agreement receiving constitutional protection.
In keeping with the historic role of the Nisga'a in forcing the issue of unrecognized Aboriginal title onto the agenda of the BC government, their treaty with the Crown is generally viewed as a precedent-setting one. Behind the Nisga'a are over 50 other BC First Nations who are in line to make similar agreements. Gradually the principle is emerging that all of these Aboriginal groups together might end up with firm title to about 5% of the total BC land mass, an amount that roughly corresponds with the Aboriginal proportion of the overall population in that province. All Indian reserves in all the other provinces of Canada combined make up less than 1% of the total provincial land mass east of the BC border.
The negotiation of treaties in British Columbia became the subject of marked criticism coming from various places in the political spectrum and from both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal sides of the debate. Some non-Aboriginal critics have charged that the continuation of treaty making emphasizes race and ethnicity too much in setting rules for future relations between groups and individuals in Canada. Repeating many of the principles espoused in the 1969 White Paper on Indian policy, served by Minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, members of the Reform Party of Canada tended to lead the lobby against the extension of the treaty system of Crown-Aboriginal relations, arguing that this approach undermines the principle of individual equality and one law for all Canadians. This political position has been most thoroughly distilled in an organization known as the BC Foundation for Individual Rights and Equality, an association partially modelled on several groups in the US who advocate on behalf of non-Aboriginal people who own individual plots amidst the checkerboard land tenure of partially-allocated American Indian reservations.
Many Aboriginal activists in BC and throughout the rest of Canada have also been critical of the Nisga'a treaty, arguing that it gives up too much. This Aboriginal critique tends to focus particularly on various concessions the Nisga'a have made in opening themselves to the taxing powers of the federal and provincial governments. One extreme variant of this Aboriginal distrust of the federally financed Aboriginal leadership in the BC treaty process was manifest at the armed stand made by the self-declared Defenders of the Shuswap Nation at Gustafsen Lake in the summer of 1995. This mixed group, whose members displayed much of the style and many of the ideas of the American Indian movement, called into question the very legitimacy of a process which they said used the imagery of treaty making to cover over the familiar old patterns of colonization through co-optation of Aboriginal elites, dispossession through the extinguishment of Aboriginal rights, and cultural genocide through efforts to assimilate native peoples into the Euro-Canadian mainstream.
Extinguishment or Confirmation of Rights?
The concern that modern-day treaties should not be based on the language of surrender and extinguishment tends to be widespread among most native people who have looked at the issue, even those who have entered agreements whose settlement was conditional upon their accepting the offending phrases. In a century that has been no stranger to the atrocities of genocide, it is increasingly difficult for anyone to credibly justify the continuation of an old view of Aboriginal territory as some finite and dwindling domain of land and jurisdiction that can be cut off here, extinguished there, until it is all gone.
The wish to see treaties as instruments to confirm rather than to deny the capacity of Aboriginal peoples to express continuity between their past of their future tends to link those native groups who are making modern-day treaties and those native groups who have older agreements with the Crown. As the Nisga'a tribal council asserted in a submission to the federal government published in 1995, "Extinguishment severs a First Nation's link with our past....... Canadians must come to understand that our enjoyment and use of our lands and resources in the years to come is based not on a grant from the Crown, but is a vital part of our ancestral inheritance."
Treaties and the Crown's Fiduciary Responsibility
A key aspect of the debate over surrender and extinguishment involves the fact that the federal government has a fiduciary obligation towards Aboriginal peoples. This obligation, which was given clear judicial articulation by the Supreme Court in 1984 in the Guerin case, is derived particularly from the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and from other legal instruments where the Crown undertook to protect Aboriginal groups and defend them from the fraud and exploitation of non-Aboriginal people. At its most extreme this trusteelike role for the federal government extended to the legal transformation of Aboriginal people into wards of the state who required formal representation by federal authorities in most of their dealings with the outside world.
The question arises, then, of how the government of Canada could properly fulfil its fiduciary responsibility with respect to Aboriginal peoples in treaties where Crown officials had Indian negotiators sign legal documents outlining the extinguishment of Aboriginal rights. How could the Crown be at once the chief beneficiary of treaties that formalize the surrender of these same rights? Were Crown officials in an untenable position of conflict of interest when they dealt with Aboriginal peoples on this basis? Are treaties negotiated under these conditions even valid given the apparent breach by Crown officials of their fiduciary obligations to Aboriginal peoples? Is the federal government justified in perpetuating its apparent conflict of interest by pushing surrender provisions on Aboriginal negotiators in modern-day treaties?
Manitoba Judge A.C. Hamilton addressed these issues in a report to the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development entitled A New Partnership. In 1995 he wrote, "it appears to me that the demand that one party sign a surrender of rights recognized and affirmed by the Constitution is a flagrant breach of the Crown's fiduciary obligation." In his report Judge Hamilton proposed several options on how modern-day treaties might be worded to avoid the pitfalls of extinguishment while providing non-Aboriginal interests with a degree of "certainty" that their land titles would be safe from challenge.
There are still many Aboriginal groups whose representatives were not present at treaty negotiations covering their ancestral lands. The most famous such group is the Lubicon Cree, whose ancestors were not present in the making of Treaty 8 in 1899. The reserveless Lubicon, whose ancestral territory is in the midst of Alberta's lucrative oil patch, have faced tremendous resistance both politically and in the courts in their search for a settlement of their outstanding issues. Thus they have been frustrated in their efforts to carve for themselves a secure niche in the future through the negotiation of a modern-day treaty.
Other Aboriginal groups that continue to be excluded from the treaty system of Crown-Aboriginal relations include the Teme-Augama Anishnabai, the people of the tiny overpopulated Long Lake 58 reserve and the people of the Pic-Heron Bay reserve. All of these communities were passed over with grave consequences in the negotiation of the Robinson Treaties in 1850.
After a long period of lobbying internationally, the Innu of Labrador finally entered into the early phase of treaty negotiations in 1996 with the governments of Canada and Newfoundland. The major motivation beneath the negotiations is the discovery and subsequent purchase by Inco of a huge nickel deposit at Voisey's Bay in Labrador. Before the discovery the Innu had been very successful in drawing attention in Europe to their assertion of Aboriginal title in their ancestral lands - which they call Ntesinan. The low-level jet training facility in Goose Bay was a particular target of Innu resistance and criticism. This criticism gained the attention of peace activists and environmentalists, who used their influence to publicize the havoc wrought on Innu hunting culture by the war preparations of NATO. In appealing to international public opinion in order to defend ground in Canada, the Innu employed tactics similar to those of the Lubicon Cree in their frustrated efforts to make a modern-day treaty as a means to maintain a basis for their survival as a distinct Aboriginal society.
Aboriginal and treaty rights have been one of the most controversial and difficult issues faced both in the leadup and the aftermath to the patriation of the Canadian Constitution with a CHARTER OF RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS. In 1980, when the federal government was prepared to push unilaterally for patriation without the sanction of the provinces, native groups were briefly courted by a commitment that the new charter would include a positive affirmation of Aboriginal and treaty rights.
When a decision of the Supreme Court forced the Trudeau government to seek support for a patriation scheme from a reasonable number of provinces, the federal position soon changed. On 5 November 1981, 9 provincial governments (excluding Québec's) entered into the federal government's patriation plan on the condition that the draft constitution's assertion of Aboriginal and treaty rights be stripped from the document.
However, this modification soon resulted in a compromise. Section 35 of the Constitution Act recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal and treaty rights. Premier Lougheed of Alberta was instrumental in inserting the word "existing," in the expectation that it would eventually lead to a more limited judicial interpretation of s35.
An important part of the political maneuvering leading up to patriation was the development in London, England, of a native lobby made up largely of treaty Indians. The objective was to assert the historical fact that Aboriginal and treaty rights have long been recognized and, to an extent, guaranteed by the imperial Crown.
Therefore Canada, the Aboriginal people argued, lacked the authority to sever the old relationship between native people and the imperial Crown without Aboriginal consent. Their challenge to the legality of patriation ultimately led to the judgement made by Chief Justice Lord Denning in January 1982, in which he confirmed that treaty relationships entered by native people in Canada before 1923 had indeed been with the Crown in respect of the UK. Through constitutional evolution, however, this Crown had gradually split apart so that the treaty rights of Aboriginal peoples had come to be vested exclusively with the Crown in the right of Canada. "No parliament," proclaimed Lord Denning, "should do anything to lessen the worth of these guarantees."
In 1983 a FIRST MINISTERS CONFERENCE took place to give greater definition to s35 through a process of constitutional amendment. Representatives of 4 national Aboriginal organizations were invited to take part as consultants. The result of the proceedings was an accord to entrench constitutionally the principle that "treaty rights" as described in s35 include rights that then existed or would be acquired through land claims agreements. Furthermore, the principle was adopted that Aboriginal and treaty rights are "guaranteed equally" to male and female Aboriginal persons.
No other accords have been forthcoming. By 1987, however, the first ministers conferences had been instrumental in drawing the issue of ABORIGINAL SELF-GOVERNMENT into the forum of focused political debate in Canada. In the final FMC (1987), the federal government attempted to advance a constitutional amendment that would have recognized self-government as an Aboriginal treaty right. The details of the proposed amendment, however, required that the actual jurisdictional powers of the new Aboriginal governments would have to be derived from the sanctioning vote of provincial and federal parliaments.
This plan - one that would have made Aboriginal self-government a "contingent right" - did not receive the support of a sufficient number of first ministers to become a constitutional amendment. The proposal was also rejected by all 4 Aboriginal groups who held to their conviction that Aboriginal self-government is an "inherent right," and must be constitutionally recognized as such. In the MEECH LAKE ACCORD of 1987, the first ministers, while expanding provincial jurisdiction and recognizing Québec as a "distinct society," again failed to recognize this right. This failure led to the stand made by Elijah Harper on the floor of the Manitoba legislature, a stand that contributed to the demise of the Meech Lake accord and the subsequent armed standoff between the Mohawk Warriors and the Surêté de Québec at Oka and at the Mercier Bridge near Kahnawake, Québec.
The Charlottetown Consensus Report
Largely through the insistence of Ontario Premier Bob Rae, 4 Aboriginal organizations including the ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS were included in the next round of constitutional deliberations. These deliberations led to the formulation of the Charlottetown consensus report, a document that was subjected to a national referendum in 1992. The Charlottetown document, which was approved by the federal and provincial governments of Canada, included a proposed addition to section 35 stating that "the Aboriginal peoples of Canada have the inherent right of self-government within Canada." The word "inherent" was intended to demonstrate that the right was derived not from the Crown but rather from the histories, distinct identities and self-determination of Aboriginal peoples whose existence predates that of Canada.
The Charlottetown document was rejected as a basis for constitutional amendment by a majority of Canadians in all jurisdictions except Ontario. While most Inuit voters happily sanctioned the deal, Aboriginal voters largely rejected it either by answering no to the referendum question or by not allowing ballot boxes onto Aboriginal reserves. This rejection marked a lack of confidence at the grass-roots level in the makeup and leadership of the Assembly of First Nations. In the Prairie provinces the Aboriginal rejection of the Charlottetown document was also an expression of unhappiness with the format of multilateral negotiations. By its very nature this federal-provincial-Aboriginal format undermined the integrity of bilateral, nation-to-nation treaty making with the Crown that in the view of many First Nations people still defines the basic terms of their alliances with the Canadian state.
Treaties and Québec
The provincial election of the Parti Québécois government in 1994 and the referendum on sovereignty in 1995 have highlighted treaty issues in an unfolding debate about the possibility of partitioning Québec if the Québec government unilaterally declares independence from Canada. The debate renews many of the controversies which arose in the prelude to the American Revolution, when the question of locating authority to make treaties with natives was strategically fundamental to relations between the British imperial authority and the local Anglo-American colonies. These same issues also surfaced shortly after Confederation when the governments of Canada and Ontario tested their comparative jurisdictional strength in litigation involving an examination of whether the transfer in treaties of Aboriginal land rights flowed to the provincial or federal Crown. This seminal exercise in interpreting the British North American Act, an interpretation that between 1885 and 1888 went in Ontario's favour, is known as the St. Catharine's Milling case.
One of the key participants in the re-emergence of this old debate in a new context was Mathew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Crees (of Québec). In a Cree referendum during the Québec sovereignty referendum, 95% of Chief Coon Come's people voted to maintain their alliance with Canada even in the eventuality that the government of Québec declares independence. A referendum of the Québec Inuit on a similar question produced similar results. Commenting on the outcome of this Aboriginal poll, Chief Coon Come asserted that if Canada is divisible, then so is Québec.
The Cree leader based his position largely on his interpretation of his people's treaty relations with the Crown as established by the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement of 1975. He explained, "Canada was forced to make the James Bay Agreement. Québec, as a province, did not have the capacity to enter into a Treaty with the Crees. Only sovereigns have the Treaty making power, and Québec as a province and not a State, does not have this power. The Treaty making power rests exclusively with Canada and the Aboriginal peoples."
Treaties and International Law
The James Bay Cree have been especially effective at international forums, including the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations. In 1987 that body set in motion a global study of "Treaties and other constructive arrangements between States and Indigenous populations." The government of Canada attempted to derail the UN treaty study, arguing that an international "focus on Treaties distorts the debate about Aboriginal peoples, whose plight today stems in most cases not from treaties or from a lack of treaties, but rather from their systematic exclusion from the economic, social, cultural and political life of the countries in which they live."
In spite of Canada's intervention the UN treaty study continues under the direction of Cuban Special Rapporteur Miguel Martinez. In 1989 he visited the Onion Lake reserve in Saskatchewan to hear testimony from treaty Indians in the Canadian West. He issued a progress report in 1992, and his continuing work in this emerging field of international law is influencing the content of the UN instrument on global Aboriginal and treaty rights, which is working its way towards ratification by the General Assembly. Section 36 of that document as presently worded states, "Indigenous peoples have the right to recognition, observance and enforcement of Treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors, according to their original spirit and intent, and to have States honour and respect such Treaties... Conflicts and disputes which cannot otherwise be settled should be submitted to competent international bodies."
Treaties and NAFTA
In spite of the effort of Aboriginal peoples to gain recognition of their treaties as instruments and proof of their capacity to act as equals in international relations, the government of Canada continues to maintain that these agreements lie exclusively within the framework of domestic law. This position was demonstrated especially in 1993 and 1994, when the governments of Canada, the US and Mexico instituted a new treaty that remade the commercial map of North America as a cohesive trading block. The negotiations that led up to the North American Free Trade Agreement included no place for Aboriginal delegations even though it was their ancestral lands that were the subject of the deal making. Similarly, the new trade treaty did not address in any way the fact that it was being imposed on territory already subject to the terms and conditions of treaties with Aboriginal peoples. The antiaboriginal character of NAFTA was marked by the beginning of an Indian uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, on 1 January 1994, the day the trade treaty came into force.
The assumptions beneath the politics of exclusion in the negotiation of NAFTA rest on the same assumptions manifest in the making of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in the transfer of the HBC titles to the Dominion of Canada in 1869-70, in the entry of BC into Confederation in 1871, in the northward expansion of Quebec in 1898 and 1912, in the Natural Resources Transfer Act of 1930 and in the making of the Meech Lake Accord in 1987. In every instance the deal making resulted in decisions of fundamental importance to the future of Aboriginal peoples and Aboriginal lands, decisions that were made, nevertheless, with no direct Aboriginal involvement whatsoever. This recurring exclusion is rooted in continuing racist views of Aboriginal peoples and nations as an inferior order of humanity who are thus sometimes deemed ineligible for full and equal participation in treaty making at the highest level of international, or even domestic, law.
Often these assumptions of inferiority remain implicit rather than explicit. Poet and Aboriginal Affairs Superintendent Duncan Campbell SCOTT, however, identified the ideas that have shielded most non-Aboriginal people and governments in Canada from really having to grapple with the contemporary meaning of the treaties with First Nations on which this country is founded. In 1914 he wrote, "the Indian in himself had no title to the soil demanding recognition, nor, in his inferior position as a savage, had he any rights which could become the subject of Treaty or negotiation."
Treaties constitute a thread of continuity woven throughout the fabric of our history from the earliest beginnings of the Canadian state until today. And if the words often spoken at the time of their negotiation are true, they are to last "as long as the sun shines and the water flows." In their archetypal form treaty documents present powerful images of some of the key traditions which together have combined to form the adventure which is Canada.
The ornate handwritten script which covers much of the older treaty documents expresses well the legalistic twists of that imperialistic frame of mind that once carried forth an expanding British Empire to the far corners of the Earth. At the bottom of the documents Aboriginal leaders often marked their approval by drawing a picture of the animal totem of their clan. In these carefully etched designs are important representations of other attitudes towards law, government, nature and society which have also been incorporated, however imperfectly, within the institutional structures of Canada. It is in the juxtaposition of these 2 very different modes of recording a shared agreement that we find essential meaning of the treaties.
The initiative to patriate the Canadian Constitution and the independence movement in Québec are important factors in stimulating a vigorous contemporary debate over the meaning of Aboriginal treaties. They have been viewed as everything from domestic contracts to international treaties between sovereign powers.
An important aspect of this debate has been a sincere effort on the part of some to rediscover the underlying spirit originally at the basis of treaty agreements. What did the various parties who sanctioned the treaties understand they were doing in formulating the bargains? How were the terms of the treaties interpreted for Aboriginal people in their own languages? What is the essential informing element of these founding covenants between peoples? And how might the original exchanged promises be honourably renewed in light of the changing experience of Canada?
In spite of the apparent inadequacies in the negotiation, maintenance and renewal of Aboriginal treaties, the process itself demonstrates that Canada has grown and developed according to constitutional principles wherein recognition of Aboriginal rights is essential. These founding agreements between peoples constitute fundamental, if often neglected and misunderstood, features in the unfolding drama of Canadian federalism. As Canada becomes home to an increasingly diverse population whose deepest ethnic roots lie in all quarters of the globe, the task of interpreting the significance of Aboriginal treaties for new generations of Canadians becomes evermore challenging.
Author ANTHONY J. HALL
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, Treaty Making in the Spirit of Co-existence (1995); Robert Allen, His Majesty's Indian Allies (1992); Clarence Alvord, The Mississippi Valley in British Politics (1916); M. Boldt and J. Anthony Long, eds, The Quest for Justice: Aboriginal Peoples and Aboriginal Rights (1985); G. Brown and R. Maguire, Indian Treaties in Historical Perspective (1979); A.L. Burt, The United States, Great Britain and British North America (1940); Colin Calloway, Crown and Calumet (1987); Canada, Indian Treaties and Surrender (3 vols, 1891-1912, repr 1971); M. Coolican et al, Living Treaties: Lasting Agreements, Report of the Task Force to Review Comprehensive Claim Policy (1985); P. A. Cumming and N.H. Mickenberg, eds, Native Rights in Canada (2nd ed, 1972); W.E. Daugherty, Maritime Indian Treaties in Historical Perspective (1981); Susan Delacourt, United We Stand (1993); Olive Dickason, Canada's First Nations (1992); Benjamin Drake, Life of Tecumseh (1858, reprint 1969); Pierre-Gerlier Forest and Chierry Rodon, "Les activities internationales des auochtones du Canada," Etudes internationales, XXIV, 1 1995; R. Fumoleau, As Long as This Land Shall Last: A History of Treaty 8 and Treaty 11, 1870-1939 (1973); A. Hall, "Treaties, Trains, and Troubled National Dreams," in Louis Knafla and Susan Binnie, eds, Law, Society, and the State, (1995); A.C. Hamilton, A New Partnership (1995); Francis Jennings, The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire (1984) and Jennings, ed, The History and Culture of Iroquois Diplomacy (1985); Dorothy V. Jones, License for Empire (1982); Peter Kulchyski, ed, Unjust Relations (1994); A. Morris, The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories (1880, repr 1971); R. Price, ed, The Spirit of the Alberta Indian Treaties (1979); Donald Purich, The Inuit and Their Land (1992); Boyce Richardson, Strangers Devour the Land (1975); John Richardson, War of 1812 (1842, repr 1974); Peter Russell, Constitutional Odyssey (1993); Paul Tennant, Aboriginal Peoples and Politics (1990); Grand Council of the Crees (of Quebec) Sovereign Injustice (1995); Richard White, The Middle Ground (1991).
Links to Other Sites
The website for the Historica-Dominion Institute, parent organization of The Canadian Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Check out their extensive online feature about the War of 1812, the "Heritage Minutes" video collection, and many other interactive resources concerning Canadian history, culture, and heritage.
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
The site contains historical research reports, images, maps, bibliographies and other resources pertaining to the more than 70 historic treaties negotiated between 1701 and 1923. From Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
The Making of Treaty 8 in Canada's Northwest
This site, which features poignant oral histories and archival material, commemorates the signing of Treaty 8 in the 19th Century and considers the complex issues relating to past, present, and future First Nations treaty negotiations in Canada. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
Fort Battleford National Historic Site
This Parks Canada site commemorates the 1876 North West Mounted Police headquarters in Battleford, Saskatchewan. Includes detailed notes about Big Bear, Poundmaker, the Cree, Sir Frederick Dobson Middleton, North-West Rebellion, the Battle of Cut Knife, and related topics.
The Spatial and Historical Evolution of Iqaluit
Explore the history and development of Iqaluit in this interesting multimedia website from Natural Resources Canada. Check out the many cartographic visualization features and the Historical Research section, which includes an interactive tutorial about the history of the Iqaluit region. Requires Adobe Shockwave Player.
The Williams Treaties
Information about the Williams Treaties, which involved the Government of Canada's acquisition of land in southern and central Ontario in 1923. See also a brief history of the treaty process in Canada. From Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
An extensive biography of Edgar Dewdney, civil engineer, contractor, politician, office holder, and lieutenant governor. Provides details about his involvement with Indian and Métis communities in the North-West Territories, the settlement of the West, the construction of the transcontinental railway, and related events. From the “Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.”
Four Directions Teachings
Elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq share teachings about their history and culture. Animated graphics visualize each of the oral teachings. This website also provides biographies of participants, transcripts, and an extensive array of learning resources for students and their teachers. In English with French subtitles.
Glossary: Treaty 6
A glossary of terms related to the history of Treaty 6. From the Alberta Online Encyclopedia.
Battle of Tippecanoe
An American account of the Battle of Tippecanoe, in which First Nations warriors of the Western Confederacy were defeated by American troops. From the Indiana Magazine of History.
Gun Shot Treaty of "1791"
An academic paper about the ill-defined history of the "Gun Shot Treaty of 1791" at the Bay of Quinte. From brandonu.ca.