Treaty 2 Territory – Inherent Rights are the original and ancestral rights held by First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory. They are born with inherent rights because their ancestors have been in these territories since creation. These Inherent Rights are all encompassing in order for the people of the collective Nation, the Local Nations, to pursue Mino-Bimaadiziwin, the good life, as a unifying concept on Turtle Island, Mother Earth, according to the original instructions provided by Creator.
Our Inherent Rights are the foundation that led to the consultation, negotiation and consent process.
The Treaty relationship is guided by the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The Proclamation set out the process, requirements and undertakings to be fulfilled by the Crown when it came to the lands belonging to “the Indians” to be taken up for “Immigration and Settlement”. This Proclamation by King George III of Britain, sought to prevent further racial violence, explicitly recognizes First Nations sovereignty and title in North America. First Nations’ land ownership and authority is law binding and recognized by the British Crown. A recognized Treaty must be publicly witnessed:
- following a prescribed process;
- was to be entered into;
- with the consent of the Indians;
- for lands to be purchased by the Crown and only the Crown;
- with just and equitable terms;
- with the remaining of the lands being reserved for the Indians;
- all of which was to be done under the supervision of His Majesty.
The Crown apologized for the “great frauds and abuses”
The Crown apologized for the “great frauds and abuses” referenced in the Royal Proclamation, which had taken place over time. They sent out runners to invite Chiefs to a special assembly held at Niagara in 1764. At that meeting, the offer of the King was accepted by chiefs and headmen. The Treaty of Niagara was entered. The Two Row Wampum relationship was reaffirmed. The Covenant Chain of Friendship was polished and the tarnish removed. Peace was restored.
The terms and primary features of the treaty process following the provisions of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and Treaty of Niagara 1764:
- the sole purpose of taking up lands was for immigration and settlement, and;
- the Treaty 2 did not apply to lands not taken up for Immigration and Settlement, and;
- no mention of original and ancestral natural resources is made in the Treaty 2, and;
- no mention is made in the Treaty 2 of compensation – the Queen ordered “the Government of Canada” to pay compensation for the lands taken up for immigration and settlement
This is background to the Fathers of Confederation meeting held with the Queen in effort to reach an agreement on arrangements through which the lands to the north and west of the colony of Upper Canada extending to the eastern borders of British Columbia could become a part of “Canada”.
Queen Victoria informed the colonial settlers that she could not give them the land they wanted. Essentially, she said “that land is not mine to give – there will have to be Treaties with the Indians.” She set out the requirements by issuing certain Orders for the lands known as “Rupert’s Land” and “the Northwestern Territories”. She stipulated that “the Government of Canada” was required to provide compensation for any lands taken up for Immigration and Settlement. Terms of the Treaties were to be just and equitable. Lands not taken up for immigration and settlement were to remain “lands reserved for the Indians”.
The Anishinaabe have been placed here from Time Immemorial. Anishinaabe Agowidiiwinan is rooted in a time that comes way before the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Treaty of Niagara 1764, and most recently the 1871 making of Treaty 2. A gathering of the Anishinaabe from the territory led to the birth of Anishinaabe Agowidiiwinan, the Ojibway or Chippewa local Nations, who were present at Manitoba House 21 August 1871 to meet with Queen Victoria’s Treaty Commissioners.
It is the position ofAnishinaabe Agowidiiwinanthatthe Treaty 2 obligations were never fulfilled in accordance with its original terms, spirit, and intent. Canada, who represents the Crown, proceeded on the premise that Treaty 2 was a land surrender document. Canada proceeded in the belief that they had, under English law, taken total ownership and control of all the lands and resources.
What are the terms, spirit, and intent of the Treaty? The Treaty relationship was to be beneficial for both parties. The Anishinaabe (Original People) of Treaty 2 territory were to have the means in order to thrive in a growing new economy while preserving customs and traditional lifestyle. The land and prosperity were to be shared with the settler. The prosperity of the Anishinaabe was to keep pace with the prosperity of the settlers. The promise of the treaty was for the Anishinaabe of Treaty 2 to retain protected fertile land throughout the territory upon which they would prosper. Those lands taken up for immigration and settlement through compensation would allow the Anishinaabe to continue to live independently.
The terms, spirit, and intent of the Treaty relationship has not been lived up by the Crown nor Canada. A colonial approach and the passing of the Indian Act in 1876, has marginalized the Anishinaabe of Treaty 2, and the true treaty relationship has been sidelined for over a century and a half.