- learn and practice treaty vocabulary in English, Wolastoqey and Mi’kmaw by articulating my current level of ability in the languages I am learning (Activity 2)
- identify stereotypes and inaccuracies in persuasive writing by using evidence to inform decisions (Activity 1)
These next three lessons are designed to help students understand what a treaty is and why there are still negotiations about their implementation. There are fewer choices in activities in the next three lessons because many of the concepts are essential to understanding the Treaty process. It is best if at least one of the activities is taught in each lesson.
His speech occupied about an hour and was delivered with much vehemence and earnestness and with such gestures of body and of arm as befit a good orator. And in conclusion, he flung into the canoe all his merchandise, which in those parts was worth more than three hundred pounds in cash, as though making him a present thereof in sign of the friendship which he wished to show to him.Marc Lescarbot about Messamet, a Sagamo from Port de Lahave, 1606
History of New France, 1968 p.324
It is important to revisit with students what treaty-making is all about.
A Treaty is:
- only signed by nations,
- has equal benefits and obligations on both sides,
- contains dispute resolution clauses,
- needs to be ratified by both parties,
- has the force of law for both parties,
- cannot be changed or terminated without agreement of both parties.
When reviewing treaties with the class it is important to consider and discuss these six elements.
When European wars spilled over into the colonies, both the French and the English bargained for the support of Indigenous peoples. After 1713, although France suffered defeat and had to give up a large part of its Atlantic possessions, it continued to support its French settlers and their Indigenous allies.
In an effort to establish a stable peace, British Governor Dummer, in Boston, invited the region’s Indigenous population to a meeting. Representatives from Indigenous groups came from present-day Maine, New Hampshire, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (similar to the Wabanaki Confederacy). On December 15th, 1725, the British and the Indigenous representatives negotiated a “Peace and Friendship” treaty. Under the terms of this Treaty, the Indigenous groups agreed to “forbear All Acts of Hostility, Injuries and Discords towards all the Subjects of the Crown of Great Britain and not offer the least hurt, violence, or molestation of them in their persons or Estates.”
With this treaty, Governor Dummer intended to prevent conflict between British settlers and Indigenous peoples by establishing trade relations and by getting their consent for British colonization in the region. This treaty of 1725, between the British, Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqewiyik, was then ratified by many of the Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqey villages at Annapolis Royal in 1726 and is known as the Mascarene Treaty. It was the first of what are now known as Peace and Friendship Treaties with the British Crown in the Maritime Provinces.
Activity 1 deals with this topic. An agreement based on these principles at Fort Howe (see next page) along the Saint John River is negotiated and the class must decide whether or not the circumstances and the agreement itself were fair to both parties.
After the first Peace and Friendship treaty of 1725, several more treaties were signed in the following years. These were all called Peace and Friendship Treaties and they all followed a similar pattern. Most experts on Mi’kmaw and Wolastoqey treaties would argue that there are eleven Maritime treaties in existence, but some say that there are as many as thirty Maritime treaties. The Covenant Chain of treaties signifies an on-going treaty relationship. Signing these treaties meant that at least two more generations of Indigenous people agreed to similar documents, giving Indigenous people the understanding that these treaties were forever. The British and groups from the Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqewiyik and Passamaquoddy nations concluded treaties between 1725 and 1779. Each time the terms re-affirmed peace and commercial relations. In these treaties, Indigenous peoples did not surrender rights to land or resources.
Activity 2 is based on the significance of treaty-making. It emphasizes that treaty-making is accepted by international law. Before you begin this activity, it is worth discussing with the students what a promise is and how if formalized and between two or more nations it can become a treaty. You might want to start this way:
- What is a promise? A promise is a pledge made between two people or groups.
- What is a treaty? A treaty promise takes the form of an agreement and is a pledge between nations or large groups of people.
- How is an agreement formed? It is written down and signed. Today, it often looks like a contract and is signed legally.
It is important to note that although these contracts were signed legally between nations of people, Indigenous people could not vote in Canadian elections until 1960.
A treaty is an agreement among nations. When it is signed, it becomes a document recognized by international law.
The Mi’kmaq Rights Initiative (www.mikmaqrights.com) explains treaties this way: “An Indian treaty is an exchange of promises between an Indian (Indigenous) group and the Crown, done with a certain level of formality. It usually takes the form of a written, signed document, but can include oral agreements.”
During the treaty-making period, translating among Mi’kmaq, Wolastoqewiyik, Passamaquoddy, and English was challenging. The Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, and Wolastoqewiyik respected oral agreements amongst each other, yet they bonded agreements by making wampum belts to confirm the treaty.