Treaty negotiations between French officials and Haudenosaunee leaders, near present-day Kingston Ontario, August 1684.1 media/[Illustrations_de_Voyages_du_Baron_[...]La_Hontan_btv1b2300012s_4_thumb.jpeg 2022-11-12T11:58:23+00:00 Trudy Tattersall f0224d53ad8de598b7c1090097109032cd5984d5 1 1 An image from Lahontan's book. Formality was paramount in Indigenous-Settler negotiations, with precise order established and symbolic artifacts carefully arranged. Note the placement of the two leaders, the flags, and particularly the "calumet de paix " [the pipe of peace] symbolically set at the centre. The sharing of the pipe would mark mutual consent at the agreement of terms. Source: Louis Armand de Lahontan, Nouveaux voyages de M. le baron de Lahontan, dans l'Amérique septentrionale 1703. Bibliothèque nationale de France. plain 2022-11-12T11:58:23+00:00 Trudy Tattersall f0224d53ad8de598b7c1090097109032cd5984d5
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Indigenous North American Cultures
This week's big question
Generally, how would you characterize the colonizers' accounts of Indigenous peoples? How would you characterize the relationship?
Learning outcomesAt the end of this week you should:
- know something of the early modern histories of some North American Indigenous peoples;
- know something of how Indigenous societies were organized;
- know something of how Europeans and Indigenous peoples viewed each other;
- be aware of some of the problems of sources for writing Indigenous history;
- have an advanced awareness of how perspective affects how we understand historical sources.
For this week you are required to read one of two secondary sources (see the instructions in the Secondary Sources section). However, if you would like to read BOTH sources, you are welcome to do so. In your forum group, do your best to have a conversation with others about the similarities and differences between the two texts.
Questions to consider, and learning activity
Try to build on each other's comments: reply, debate, and ask questions of each other (in a constructive way!!) so that you push each other to learn more together. The two secondary sources this week offer different perspectives on Indigenous history. Read the posts of your classmates who are reading the same text as you, and those reading another text. Compare. Discuss.
Questions to think about, more particularly, are:
- How do the secondary accounts of Paul and Salisbury differ? How are they the same? Are their perspectives visible in their writing?
- Describe what the primary documents allow us to see as some of the distinctive and important features of Indigenous societies. Do you see evidence in our primary documents that amplify, support, contradict what you see in Salisbury or Paul?
- Compare what your seminar-mates have to say about the secondary source that you didn't read. How are their perspectives similar/different than yours?
- What struck our European writers as most interesting in their descriptions of the Indigenous societies they encountered?
- What, in Lahontan’s mind, were the criteria for assessing the interests of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples? Does Lahontan’s account offer us another way to think about the native-newcomer relations?
- Early in his account, White is relating tales of some rituals underway. What was going on here? What else does White's account help us to understand of early modern Indigenous peoples? Of the meeting of European and Indigenous peoples?
- We again face the issue of having sources written about our subjects, but not by our subjects. What do they allow us to see about Indigenous peoples? Do any of the primary documents allow us to see what Indigenous people thought about the colonizers? Daniel Paul has some suggestions for how to view these primary sources on pages 36-42, while these are not assigned readings, you may find his views helpful.
Much of the larger pattern of Atlantic history can be seen in the interconnectedness of the different stories. As we saw two weeks ago, the slave trade initiated one of the great demographic shifts in global history. At least 10 million Africans were forcibly relocated to the Americas, as slaves, where their labour enabled the development of large-scale production of sugar, cotton, rice, tobacco, indigo, and other staple products. Early colonization plans had imagined Indigenous peoples would supply that labour, but, as we saw in last week's lesson on the Columbian exchange, huge swaths of that population had been cut down by European diseases that spread through the Americas. Colonization’s inadvertent depopulation of one region led to colonialists’ deliberate depopulation of another.
This relatively new understanding of the biological consequences of overseas expansion has changed the way we understand that larger story. It’s also very much changed how we think about Indigenous peoples and their history. The traumatic effects of the exchange, particularly of disease’s near extirpation of significant swaths of Indigenous populations, have compelled historians to re-examine the nature of Native societies on the eve of, and in the early years of, contact between Indigenous Americans and European colonizers.
Many people once accepted that God had opened America for Europeans to colonize. Contemporaries like Amos Adams believed that a “wonderful providence” had prepared the way for English settlers. For example, as some of you noted in your Forum discussions, Adams wrote that a “few years before the arrival of the people at Plymouth [Massachusetts], there is no doubt that God was pleased to send a dreadful sickness among the natives … and the land was, in a manner, depopulated”. Later, for nineteenth-century historians, the beliefs of Manifest Destiny guided much American thinking, and the place of Indigenous peoples was reduced to that of obstacles to a necessary, divinely ordained, progress. And even into the 20th century, while historians increasingly dismissed the role of providence, they still accepted that America was largely empty – “a howling wilderness” – and that while Indigenous people’s fates were unfortunate they were primitive peoples, lost in a tide of western advancement. What’s most interesting about all these stories is that they’re not about Indigenous peoples; they’re about the advance of Western colonization, and they occasionally explain the consequences of that march for Indigenous peoples. This week, we try to counter that pattern by examining the histories of some Indigenous peoples in the early years of contact with European peoples.
But again we face difficulties with sources for examining these past cultures. As was the case for Africa, our sources this week are almost entirely of European origin, and thus their accuracy is very much open to question. Sometimes, the poor quality of that knowledge is evident. Much of what passed for knowledge about Indigenous peoples was very much the product of people’s imaginations. The painting to the right, by the 16th-century Dutch painter Jan Mostaert, depicts an imagined episode from a real event: the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Painted only forty years after Columbus’s voyages, it’s striking that even in this painting by a Dutch painter, where he was clearly depicting the Spaniards as violent invaders, the predominant impression relates more to the primitive manner of the peoples. But it’s not a painting from experience. Mostaert had never been to America; he had only read some accounts coming out of Spain. The landscape, like the actual event, was entirely made up: it’s an agrarian paradise with naked people (like Adam and Eve before the Fall) under a heavenly sky. But Indigenous peoples weren’t naked (indeed, in these regions, just like in Europe, the elites wore finely made clothing); they lived in large complex cities, not caves; and while agriculture in the region was substantial, there were no cows or sheep anywhere in the New World until after colonization. This is how a European man, who had never seen the New World, using the Old World and Biblical imagery as a template, imagined it must look. Many viewers at the time, and today, assumed it bore some resemblance to reality. There’s very little reason to assume it does.
Travellers' accounts offer us greater confidence, though even here there are problems. Early colonists such as Samuel de Champlain, who sailed for France into what is now modern-day Nova Scotia and Quebec, left detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna of the region. He also offered us a remarkably accurate map drawn after only a few years travelling through territory wholly unknown to European cartographers. While Champlain would spend thirty years in Canada, and eventually learn to speak Algonquian dialects, in these early illustrations and writings his intimate knowledge of Indigenous cultures was very limited. His 1612 map, which beautifully illustrates indigenous plants and the coastal geography, also offers us a detailed illustration of the "Almouchquois" (a now unknown group based in what is now southern New England) and Montagnais (people based in south-central Quebec), but even here we need to realize that Champlain was not the artist and that these images were drawn by an European illustrator based loosely on Champlain's descriptions. Were they purely fanciful, like Mostaert's, or are they true depictions? Probably neither, but where accuracy ended and fanciful began is a tricky question.
Treaty negotiations give us illustrations of the terms of the relationship being actively worked out. Again, this is only the English side of this story, but we can see very clearly that the process of negotiating the treaty was highly formalized and in many ways marked by Indigenous terms and language. The treaty we're reading is from 1694, but internal evidence - notably the references to the Covenant Chain - suggests this is a renewal of an ongoing relationship, not a new one. The Covenant Chain is a metaphor describing the relationship between its parties: a chain that bound the parties together, its links marking particular dimensions of that relationship. These agreements would be recorded on paper - as we see here - by the British and French, and in wampum belts -like the famous Two Row Wampum - by Indigenous peoples. Though an English record, can we see Haudenosaunee [Iroquois] goals and objectives in the document?
By far our best accounts come from some of the missionaries who wrote about their activities in the New World. These are the men whose works you read in the last lesson of Module 2, and are the focus of the last assignment option for this term. Though clearly influenced by their European perceptions, the missionaries -– especially the Jesuits writing the Jesuit Relations –- were keen observers, genuinely interested in understanding their subjects' cultures and societies because they believed the best way to convert them was to understand them. And so while we must read their accounts critically (i.e., with questions about their reliability), we see that they often appreciated the intelligence of their Indigenous hosts. At the same time, we have some accounts by commercial and military men, such as Marc Lescarbot and Baron Lahontan, who offer richly detailed accounts of their experiences. Each presents their accounts through a lens, but as we've seen in our examination of Africa we can nonetheless see otherwise obscure details of Indigenous life in the 17th century.
Stepping back from all of this, we can see that much of what we know about early modern Indigenous peoples came through those lenses: the visual, if largely imagined, views of primitive peoples, the fragmented reports of different peoples in different places from different sources, and the careful, if still prejudiced, views of our missionary-ethnographers. As you’ll see, careful readings by modern historians such as Neal Salisbury have opened new windows on how to think about those societies. But even Daniel Paul, a Mi’kmaq man, trying to tell his people’s history – the “we” in the title – is handicapped before even he starts. And yet, with imaginative use of sources and a keen critical eye, new perspectives are still possible. In short, your task this week is to read the sources carefully and closely using all your skills of historical thinking.
Primary sourcesRead at least two (2) of the primary sources, then in the Forum explain which texts you have read, and how they compliment, reinforce, or contradict the arguments in the secondary source you read.
- An account of a treaty between His Excellency Benjamin Fletcher captain general and governour in chief of the province of New-York, &c and the Indians of the Five Nations, viz. the Mohaques, Oneydes, Onnondages, Cajonges and Sennekes at Albany, beginning the 13th day of August, 1694 (New York, Bradford, 1694), read pages 1-10 and 28-31.
- Father Andrew White, "A Brief Relation of the Voyage unto Maryland, 1634", in Clayton Colamn Hall, ed., Narratives of Early Maryland, volume 1 (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1910), 39-45.
- Thomas Heriot, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia: of the Commodities and of the Nature and Manners of the Naturall Inhabitants (1588), 34-44. Pay attention to the page numbers!
- Baron Louis-Armand de Lom d'Ares Lahontan, New Voyages in North America, vol. 1, Reuben Gold Thwaites, ed., (Chicago: McClurg, 1905), 121-35.
- Marc Lescarbot, Nova Francia, or The description of that part of New France which is one continent with Virginia (London: George Bishop, 1609), 242-57.
- Chrestian Le Clercq, New relation of Gaspesia: With the customs and religion of the Gaspesian Indians, translated and edited by William F. Ganong, (Toronto: Champlain Society, 1910 ), 100-8.
Read ONE (1) of the following secondary sources, then in the Forum explain which text you have read, and consider the significance of the secondary source to the analysis of the primary sources.
- Neal, Salisbury. “Spiritual Giants, Worldly Empires: Indigenous Peoples and New England to the 1680s.” In The World of Colonial America, 153–170. 1st ed. Routledge, 2017.
- Daniel Paul, We Were Not the Savages: A Mi'kmaq Perspective on the Collision between European and Native American Civilizations (Halifax, Fernwood, 2000), 61-78. (Chapter 4)SaveSaveSaveSave
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What was negotiated in Britain's colonial era treaties with Indigenous peoples?
In the period after 1713 and continuing to the present day Great Britain, Canada and the United States signed a series of treaties with different Indigenous nations across North America.
Big question: What was negotiated in the Indigenous Treaties of the 18th and early 19th centuries?
This lesson examines three treaties between Indigenous peoples and the British state, plus a proclamation regarding treaties issued by the British state. It's important for us to see both the variety and the basic consistency across this period and these different colonies - that is, that in different times and places the treaties addressed different issues, and yet at the same time adhered to similar principles. Because their terms are different, and because these treaties still have legal standing today, how they affect, say Nova Scotia, is quite different from how they affect Ontario, or Saskatchewan, and so on. Indeed, some places - notably all of Quebec and most of British Columbia - have no treaties explicitly covering their territories.
Interpreting all these treaties, as two prominent researchers have observed, is "fraught with ambiguity". Some treaties are long and complex, while others are surprisingly simple. Some address diplomatic relationships, while others address land and resources. Some mention land surrender for a fixed sum, while others seem to imply continued Indigenous rights; others, like the Robinson treaty, suggest not fixed terms but an evolving relationship. Thus, we have different issues governing different places, and little or nothing specifically governing other places.This is where the general principles become important. With few proper treaties signed in British Columbia, for example, how can we apply the general principles of the treaty-making process to this situation? In Quebec, it is much the same. In Nova Scotia, as you'll see in one of your examples, promises of "Peace and Friendship" were made, but there is no discussion of surrender, or of ceding land. What does that mean?
Our video introduction this lesson is part of the Conversations in Cultural Fluency lecture series (2016) from the Indigenous Knowledge Centre at Six Nations Polytechnic, in Brantford, Ontario. It is a little longer than our regular videos as it runs for 36 mins, but it offers a contemporary (so consider it a secondary source) discussion of Indigenous knowledge and understanding of the treaty making progress. Pay attention to Rick Hill's discussion of the treaty renewals, treaty making protocols, jumping ship, and historical legacies. Do we see evidence of these ideas in our sources this week? Hill also incorporates a discussion of the Indigenous understanding of both wampum and the concept of "peace and friendship" that you may find helpful for understanding some of our sources.
What's clear in most of these negotiations is the prominent place Indigenous diplomatics protocols played. The illustration here of the Shawnee with the British in 1765 and the descriptions of the proceedings in your primary document give you some sense of that. See if you can identify the specifically Indigenous activities and think abut how these change over time. One area we see repeated references to is the Covenant Chain, a set of agreements initially between the Hudson River Mohawk and the British, the Covenant Chain (see our lesson on Indigenous North American Cultures for a discussion of this) is a symbolic representation of an alliance - a chain that binds the two people together. Begun in the mid-17th century, it came to define British-Haudenosaunnee [Six Nations] relations well into the 19th century. Like most treaties, it was subject to renegotiation - when the chain rusted - and it later came to be referred to as a silver chain, i.e. one that would not rust. As one might imagine, the covenant chain made few particular agreements clear, but it held great power in signifying basic principles of mutual aid and support. In any one moment that might not require either side to a particular course of action, but it made clear general guidelines that ought never be violated.
The history of treaties is a messy and complex one. But it still has a single feature that gives the entire story a basic coherence: they remain documents with formal state-to-state legal standing. We, as a society, have a legal and a moral obligation to deal with our relationship with Indigenous peoples. It behoves us to use the treaties (and if there are none, then the principles we see in the existing treaties) to bring Indigenous peoples into a full and fair partnership on the benefits (and costs) of living in an advanced democratic society. And that's what we will explore in the next few weeks.
The three treaties we examine this week occurred between 1694 and 1818. The one is from 1694 in what is now New York state. It's from the period before the Seven Years War, and thus relates in some ways not only to British-Haudenosaunee relations, but also to the British- French struggle for control in North America. This negotiation highlights the interdependence of Indigenous and European cultures, but what exactly do we see negotiated here? How did the negotiations take place, and who do we see represented?
The second is from 1752, on the eve of the Seven Years War, and reflects British efforts to discourage French allies from fighting (in the case the Mi'kmaq of modern Nova Scotia - recall last week we read Maillard's description of Mi'kmaw experiences). And the third is a treaty from Rice Lake, Upper Canada (what is today called Ontario) and reflects the political situation not only after the Seven Years War, but also after the American Revolution. Think about the chronology and how the changing context seems reflected in what was being negotiated, and the bargaining power of each side.
The final document is not a treaty, but as the name says, a proclamation of the British King: The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is a direct response to the end of the Seven Years War and the removal of France from any presence in North America. You should read the entire document, but our primary attention should be to the clauses related to land and Indigenous sovereignty in North America. Britain sought to clarify what it saw as the new arrangement of imperial power in North America. Most of the proclamation dealt with borders and forms of government. A substantial section described relations with Indigenous peoples and more particularly outlined the Crown's view of Indigenous territory and sovereignty. We'll discuss more in the forums, but a key feature of that was drawing a line down through the Appalachian Mountains and proclaiming all land west of that line to be "reserved for the Indians". In outlining rules premised on Indigenous sovereignty over this territory, the Crown also established guidelines for all future relationships with Indigenous peoples.
You can see that line down the Appalachian Mountains in this map, though not in the other near identical map from the same year. What might explain the two very different manners of depicting the new political geography of North America?
The end of the Seven Years War not only saw the defeat of the French Empire and their removal from North America, but also a corresponding weakening of the position of the many Indigenous peoples across North America (from the Mi'kmaq in the northeast to the Mingo in the southeast). The Royal Proclamation (1763) and the subsequent Treaty of Niagara (1764) were attempts on the part of Great Britain to establish rules for future government of what Britain now saw as its domain. In particular, in drawing that line, and declaring it to be "Indian country", Britain was acknowledging Indigenous sovereignty.
QuestionsThe Royal Proclamation is about more than Indigenous policies. Do you see a general idea guiding British thinking? Why do the British appear to be protecting "Indian" land? Is it significant that that British acknowledge Indigenous title to land? In many ways, the Royal Proclamation and the Treaty of Niagara reflected the new power arrangements in North America with the defeat of France, but in some ways it reflects a long-standing continuity. Discuss.
The Royal Proclamation implies Indigenous title to the land, and thus treats their surrender of land as a free choice (if the Indians "should be inclined to sell") and promises to set a process for future relations. Did subsequent negotiations appear to follow the spirit of the Royal Proclamation? The Rice Lake treaty negotiations offer one of the few transcripts available of the actual negotiation process. Do the Rice Lake Anishinaabe appear "inclined to sell"? Why? Is this sale "just and reasonable"?
The two maps above illustrate the peace at the end of the Seven Years War and one highlights the impact of the Royal Proclamation: In October 1763, following the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the British government confirmed the new boundaries of North America in a proclamation - what we now call "the Royal Proclamation of 1763". New boundaries meant new maps and several cartographers set out to show Britons the outlines of their newly won territories. But the results were interestingly different. Compare the lower map with Thomas Kitchin's "A New Map of the British Dominions in North America" (above). Both maps were produced in London within weeks of each other. Yet they show quite different versions of the new boundaries. These are not simply mistakes. They reflect very different understandings of the meaning of the Proclamation. The differences continue to have very real consequences in our world today.
Three hints: (1) note that these treaties do different things - they occurred at different time, in different place, under different contexts.
(2) Be on the lookout for clues in the formal procedures. Note the use of gifts, particularly wampum and furs. Why were gifts being exchanged? Look at the picture of the negotiation above. That, combined with the formal and ritualised activities described here should give us hints as to how these agreements were being made. Note too the references to the "chain" (Hill helps here)
(3) Make use of what you already know. Notice that the treaty with the Mi'kmaq is just before the Seven Years War; notice that the Royal Proclamation is just after. Preparing for war, and dealing with its outcomes point to radically different contexts. What's changed? Do they share principles? Do the later documents reflect the changed circumstances?
An Account of the Treaty Between His Excellency Benjamin Fletcher, Captain General and Governor in Chief of the Province of New York and the Indians of the Five Nations, August 1694 (New York, William Bradford, 1694).
- We read parts of this treaty in our lesson "Indigenous North American Cultures". This time, you will read the whole treaty, and given your knew knowledge, feel free to reflect on how your understanding of the language may have evolved.
Printed Proclamation of the 1752 Treaty between the Governor of Nova Scotia and some "Mickmack Indians" [Mi'kmaq].The Royal Proclamation (1763)
Documents on the Rice Lake Treaty negotiations (Upper Canada, 1818), pp.89-96.
Susan Hill, The Clay We Are Made Of: Haudenosaunee Land Tenure on the Grand River (Winnipeg, University of Manitoba Press), 65-71 and 82-89. [the download here is the entire chapter - read just the two sections]
Jeffers Lennox, "Battling for the Maritimes, 1690-1763," Witness to Yesterday, (podcast), February 21, 2018, (while not specifically about treaties, Lennox will provide you with good insight on ways to think about the treaty making process between the English and the Mi'kmaq, and should help you to think about the stories maps tell!)
Supplementary ReadingsLennox, Jeffers. “A Time and a Place: The Geography of British, French, and Aboriginal Interactions in Early Nova Scotia, 1726–44.” The William and Mary quarterly 72, no. 3 (2015): 423–460.
Sleeper-Smith, Susan. Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest: Indian Women of the Ohio River Valley, 1690-1792. The University of North Carolina Press, 2018. (look at Chapter 2, pp. 84-104 for one perspective on the shifting trade relationships between the French-Indigenous and British-Indigenous tribes. This might give you some further perspective on the negotiations the Fletcher Treaty (1694))
Revisit the treaty from last week's lesson: "Treaty of Peace and Friendship" between Jonathon Belcher and Francis Muis, Halifax, 1761.