Treaty Agreements In Canada

While treaty drafting did not really reach the indigenous peoples of Western Canada until after Confederation, an important treaty was concluded in 1817 by the Earl of Selkirk in present-day Manitoba. The Selkirk Treaty abandoned indigenous title in areas “adjacent to the Red River and the Assiniboine River.” The wing also extended as far as the United States to the Great Forks (also known as the Grand Forks). In return for their country, the peoples of Ojibwa (Chippawa or Saulteaux) and Cree each received 100 pounds of tobacco. Five chiefs signed the contract with drawings representing an important aspect of their identity. Negotiations on the number contracts began in 1871. The first seven were for the natives, while the others were negotiated later between 1899 and 1921 and concern people living further north. Each contract encompasses a territory that has been considered the traditional territory of the First Nations that sign this treaty. [10] For Canada, this was a necessary step before colonization and development continued westward. There were no two equal contracts, as they depended on specific geographical and social conditions within the territory to be dealt with. [11] Despite the constitutional nature of the treaties, the non-indigenous peoples who made and implemented them tended to regard them as selfish agreements rather than sacred pacts between independent nations. Historically, non-Aboriginal contract negotiators believed that contracts were cheap and convenient ways to remove Aboriginal title (i.e. ownership) from most Canadian countries, so that settler resources could be exploited (see Indigenous Territory).

Even in modern times, federal and provincial governments tend to interpret treaties legalistically by claiming that Aboriginal peoples have “ceded, abandoned and ceded” their Aboriginal rights and titles through treaties. In other words, contracts can be considered real estate transactions where the Crown purchased Aboriginal land and provided them with reserves and one-time or ongoing payments (see contract date). Crown officials and their indigenous allies spoke of a renewal of their relations as “politely links in the chain of the covenant.” It would be almost unthinkable for indigenous and non-indigenous diplomats, who were taught in the Covenant Chain tradition, to enter into contracts without naming their main characteristics on wampum belts, composed of shell beads interwoil with symbolic representations.