Home PageSite MapSite IndexHow to Use This SiteGlossaryContact Us Acknowledgements Image
Canada in the Making
Canada in the MakingAboriginals: Treaties & Relations
Primary Sources
Teachers' Resources
Quick Reference
Specific Events & Topics
Maps & Images
Français
Image
Image
Themes:
Constitutional History
Image
Aboriginals: Treaties & Relations
Image
1492 - 1779
1763 - 1791
1764 - 1836
1811 - 1867
1867 - 1870
1871 - 1875
1876 - 1877
1878 - 1898
1899 - 1922
1923 - 1950
1951 - 1981
1982 - 2003
Sources

Pionniers et Immigrants
Image
Image

Picture: Arrival of Champlain at Québec - NAC/ANC C-011015
Copyright/Source

1492 - 1779: From First Contact to the Peace and Friendship Treaties

Before the discovery of North America by European explorers, Aboriginal peoples had an entire continent to themselves. They each had their own cultures and traditions, which ranged from nomadic lifestyles, such as the plains peoples who followed the buffalo, to settled farmers such as the Iroquois. The arrival of the white man would eventually change everything, and fundamentally affect the Aboriginal people's relationship with the land and its resources.

Topics in this section:

Decision Making Among Aboriginals
Oral Treaty Making
Covenant Chain
The Great Peace of 1701
Aboriginal-European Relations in the 1700s
Peace and Friendship Treaties
Other Interesting and Important Documents

Decision Making Among Aboriginals

Aboriginals did not have centralized, formal governments in the European sense. Aboriginal societies were largely governed by unwritten customs and codes of conduct.

You will find more information on this topic in the Constitutional History section.

Oral Treaty Making

Aboriginals had treaties with each other long before European fur traders or settlers arrived in what is now called Canada. Aboriginal nations would use oral treaties to settle land disputes and end other conflicts, including war. Trade and marriage arrangements were commonly made between tribes as well.

When the Europeans arrived, they brought with them their own methods, especially the written treaty. Particularly after the conquest, when the British gradually began to establish a strong hold on the continent, Aboriginals were not always happy with the outcomes of these written treaties - for governments of the time sometimes did not include oral promises made to the Aboriginals in the written treaty. This forms the basis of many land claims today, as Aboriginal leaders demand to be given what they were promised.

Did you know?

The Great Law of Peace of the People of the Longhouse is one of the earliest recorded treaties negotiated between Aboriginal tribes. It predates the year 1450, and covered 117 articles governing customs and relationships between the Seneca, Mohawk and Cayuga tribes, among others. It was passed on orally from generation to generation, and was written down for the first time in 1880.

Painting: Inside an Indian Tent (Manitoba) - NAC/ANC C-114484
Copyright/Source


Covenant Chain

In the early 1600s, a series of treaties were negotiated between the Thirteen Colonies, which would eventually make up the United States, and the six-nation Iroquois Confederacy. These agreements likely originated between the Mohawk nation and the colony of New York, and were represented by iron or silver chains that symbolized the binding of a promise.

These agreements would often be re-negotiated as more financial aid to the Aboriginals was needed, and the chains would be symbolically polished to show that revisions had taken place. Other colonies, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland and Rhode Island, would later join the chain as would the Tuscarora tribe.

The chain lasted until June 1753, when the Mohawk broke it, upset that Anglo-American settlers had begun occupying Confederacy lands without permission of any of the six nations in the chain. In 1754, an elaborate condolence ceremony was held in Albany, New York, which saw colonial leaders make peace with the Aboriginals by offering gifts. The chain was then restored.

The Great Peace of 1701

One example of early treaty making between Europeans and Aboriginal peoples was the Great Peace of 1701. One 1300 delegates of more than 40 First Nations converged on Montreal. The treaty that followed the negotiations ended almost 100 years of war between the Iroquois Confederacy and New France and its allies.

The significance of the treaty lasts to this day, as it set a precedent the use of negotiation to settle disputes between First Nations peoples and European colonial representatives in what is now Canada. It also set the foundation for the expansion of the "empire" of New France to the south and west, and ensured the neutrality of the Iroquois Confederacy in case of war between the French and English in North America. At the outbreak of the Seven Years War between British and French forces in 1756, the Iroquois Confederacy was neutral.

Aboriginal-European Relations in the 1700s

By 1701, Aboriginals and Europeans had had about two centuries worth of contact. While there had been wars between the Europeans and Aboriginals, the relationship between both parties had stabilized.

Aboriginal skills and knowledge about the harsh landscape helped many Europeans survive cold Canadian winters. These Aboriginals provided access to land to furs for trading, as well as food supplies from fishing and big game hunting.

For more information about the fur trade in Canada, visit:·

On the other hand, European goods and technologies found their way into Aboriginal culture. The Natives now had blankets, iron kettles, guns and gunpowder as new tools. Over a period of time, the Aboriginals and Europeans slowly became more interdependent. Cultural and social aspects were borrowed from both cultures and incorporated into trading ceremonies.

A new cultural group, the Métis, came out of this interaction between European and Aboriginal civilizations. Early European explorers and traders were virtually all men, and some of them decided to settle down and start new lives in Canada. Many started families by marrying Aboriginal women. The ancestors of these children form the basis of Canada's Métis population.

Area of Peace and Friendship Treaties
Area of Peace and Friendship Treaties

Peace and Friendship Treaties

Other colonial governments in the area now covered by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the northeastern United States began to sign peace agreements with the Aboriginals in the early 1700s. Starting with the first Peace and Friendship Treaty in 1725 and lasting until 1779, these treaties were designed to stop and prevent wars with the Aboriginal peoples so that European settlers could begin to safely live on this land and use its natural resources.

To learn more about the Peace and Friendship Treaties, visit:

Image
 

The Submission and Agreement of the Delegates of the Eastern Indians
(The first Peace and Friendship Treaty to be negotiated with the "Eastern Tribes" of Nova Scotia, December 15,1725)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Articles of Submission and Agreement made at Boston, in New England…, 1725
(Articles from the first Peace and Friendship Treaty negotiated with the "Eastern Tribes" of Nova Scotia, December 15,1725.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Ratification at Annapolis Royal, 1728
(The ratification of first Peace and Friendship Treaty by the "Eastern Tribes" of Nova Scotia, May 13, 1728.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Casco Bay Articles, 1727
(Adhesion to the first Peace and Friendship Treaty of December 15, 1725.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Chebucto Harbour Ratification, 1749
(Brings the territories into Confederation.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Enclosure in letter of Governor Hopson to the Right Honourable The Earl of Holdernesse: Treaty or Articles of Peace and Friendship Renewed
(Renewal of the first Peace and Friendship Treaty.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Letter of Jonathan Belcher to the Lords of Trade 2 July 1762 - Halifax, Nova Scotia
(Articles from Belcher's letter on the fishing and hunting rights of the "Eastern Tribes" in the colony of Nova Scotia.)

READ the summary
Image

Image
 

Proclamation issued in Nova Scotia, 1762
(Sets out relations and obligations of the Crown to the "Eastern Tribes".)

READ the summary
Image


Painting: White Cap, Sioux chief, pledging his friendship to white brothers during Riel Rebellions - Glenbow Archives NA-1353-4

Area of Peace and Friendship Treaties

Other Interesting or Important Documents

Previous page

Image
Image
  ImageTop of Page Image
Image Image
Image