1764 The Treaty of Niagara (The British/Western Great Lakes Confederacy Convenant Chain Wampum Belt). In July, Sir William Johnson met for several days with more than 2,000 Anishinaabe Chiefs and warriors at Niagara Falls, with ‘representative nations as far east as Nova Scotia, and as far west as Mississippi, and as far north as Hudson Bay.’ It was also possible that representatives from even further afield participated in the Treaty as some records indicated the Cree and Lakota Nations were also present at this event. The result – an alliance of friendship between the First Nations and the British, sealed by the delivery of 2 Wampum Belts (Belt of Peace) to each party. Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs, assured them he was not interested in stealing their land. 

“My children, I clothe your land, you see that Wampum before me, the body of my words, in this the spirit of my words shall remain, it shall never be removed, this will be your Mat the eastern Corner of which I myself will occupy, the Indians being my adopted children their life shall never sink in poverty.” (The mat refers to the east side of the country of the Anishinaabe)

And the response,

“Englishman, although you have conquered the French you have not yet conquered us! We are not your slaves. These lakes, these woods and mountains were left to us by our ancestors. They are our inheritance; and we will part with them to none. Your nation supposes that we, like the white people, cannot live without bread, and pork and beef! But, you ought to know, that He, the Great Spirit and Master of Life, has provided food for us, in these spacious lakes, and on these woody mountain… You have ventured your life among us, in the expectation that we should not molest you. You do not come armed, with an intention to make war, you come in peace, to trade with us, to supply us with necessities, of which we are in much want. We shall regard you therefore as a brother; and you may sleep in tranquilly, without fear of the Chipeways. As token of our friendship we present you with this pipe, to smoke.” – The Ojibway Chief Minavavana, an Ojibwa Chief from west of Manitoulin at Michilimackinac, allied with Pontiac, in an address to the British 1764

  • The 24 Nations belt represents the 24 Anishinaabe Nations pulling a boat laden with presents across the ocean to supply the First Nations with the necessities of life. The Two Row Treaty of Niagara Belts, and the promises they represent, are the basis of the British Anishinaabe Treaty Alliance. The British began to instituted the exchange and giving of gifts each year to the First Nations to recognize and affirm their alliance with them. Another Treaty was signed at Detroit the same year, with the doodem marks of several Chiefs.
  • The First Nations regarded the agreement, represented by the Proclamation and the Two Row Wampum Belts of the Treaty of Niagara, as one that affirmed their powers of self-determination in, among other things, allocating and sharing land. This agreement, at the start of the formal relationship between the British and the First Nations of Canada, demonstrates the foundation-building principle of peace, friendship, and respect agreed to between the parties. That promise was crucial factor in the War of 1812 when the American invaders were beaten back by British soldiers bolstered by such fearless warriors as Tecumseh – whose Shawnee Nation had been among the 24 represented at Niagara. The American Revolution a few years later wiped out the British promise to reserve American lands for the First Nations, but in Canada, the Royal Proclamation became the basis of the Treaty process that still exist today.