This Rich Land
An activity for use with the Canada in the Making site
When Europeans first came to North America, they were looking for
a shorter route to the gold, spices and silk available in Asia.
But once they were in North America, they discovered that there
was much more of value than just a route of passage. Beaver furs
for the hat-making craze in Europe and farmland for settlers, for
example. Of course, there was a problem: about 2 million Aboriginal
peoples already occupying the land - their land - which now makes
up Canada. Much land - especially in the United States - was simply
seized. Ownership and rights over other land was obtained by treaty.
Some of these treaties were signed when Aboriginals had little choice,
either due to economic hardship or defeat in battle. This activity
will give you the opportunity to study each of the treaties and
the geography of the lands involved to learn what it was (and is)
that makes Canada so valuable.
The first part of this activity is to investigate the geography
and resources of a treaty area. Though there have been many treaties
large and small over the years, some stand out. Choose one of the
following treaties (or groups of treaties):
1. The Peace and Friendship Treaties
2. The Upper Canada Treaties
3. The Selkirk Treaty
4. The Province of Canada Treaties
5. The First Five Numbered Treaties (choose one)
6. Numbered Treaties Six and Seven (choose one)
7. Numbered Treaties Eight to Eleven (choose one)
8. The Williams Treaties
9. The James Bay and Northern Québec Native Claims Settlement
10. The Western Arctic Claims Settlement Act, 1984
11. The Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, 1993
For each of these treaties, you will need to research and present
information all of the following, if applicable:
What resources were available in the treaty area(s)?
Which were Europeans most interested in?
Consider mineral resources, flora and fauna, and the availability
of arable land, as well as other factors. Also investigate and
identify resources which may not have been important when the
treaties were signed, but have become important since (e.g.:
oil and gas, hydro-electrical generating possibilities).
- Identify the Aboriginal peoples living in the area.
What aspects of their way of life were threatened or at risk,
What events led to the treaty or documents in this section?
Were there any events in the period immediately preceding the
treaty or treaties which led to the negotiation?
Was the treaty (or treaties) fair to the Aboriginal peoples
in the area? Why or why not?
Compare what was gained to what was lost. How did Europeans
or the Canadian society of the time benefit from the treaty?
What are the long term implications of this treaty or treaties?
Do Aboriginal peoples have concerns over the sharing of resources,
or the interpretation of the treaty? Were any aspects of resource
sharing later renegotiated or settled in court? Explain and
Discuss all answers with your group. Develop a presentation for
the class using methods and media approved by your teacher.
Your work may be presented in point form or as paragraphs. The
use of illustrations is encouraged.
Note on Sources
Primary sources represent the most authentic resources that historians
can draw upon. The documents that you will be using below may be
digitized, but are still considered primary sources. Try to use
the sources available on the "Aboriginals: Treaties and Relations"
portion of the Canada in the Making Web site to strengthen your
For tips on how to use primary sources, go to the "Using Primary
Sources in Your Work" page.
Secondary sources are works that interpret or analyze an historical
event or phenomenon. Generally the author is at least one step removed
from the event. Although not as authentic as primary sources, secondary
sources are still valuable.
Possible Sources of Information Online
Note: It is important to choose sources that are
produced by reputable institutions or individuals. Such information
is more likely to give you a balanced, neutral view and be prepared
or reviewed by experts.
Canada in the Making: An Overview of the Numbered Treaties
Canada in the Making: Aboriginals: Treaties and Relations
The Canadian Encyclopedia Online
Natural Resources Canada: The Atlas of Canada
Indian and Northern Affairs: The Historic Treaty Information site
National Archives of Canada: Pride and Dignity