Treaties in Historical Context


Jan Verelst, Four Mohawk Kings, 1710 (Wikimedia Commons)

Treaties represent political relationships between nations. Over the two-and-a-half centuries before Britain’s North American colonies joined together to create Canada, the physical representations of these relationships have changed. In this unit you will explore the evolution of treaty-making during this period from oral agreements represented through wampum belts to oral agreements recorded by Euro-Canadian officials in textual documents. Over time these documents became more and more specific. As you read through each of the selections, pay careful attention to the the authorship of each document and how its creation represents the relationship between the parties involved. After studying each document, we have provided for you three videos by Indigenous historians and legal experts, to help you understand this collection of documents.

It is important to remember as you read these documents that treaty texts are only one small part of the treaty relationship. To fully understand these documents, you will need to do additional archival and secondary research into the context in which they were produced.

Historical Documents

  1. Dish with One Spoon Treaty (c. 1500 – present)
  2. Two Row Wampum (c. 1613 – present)
  3. Great Peace of Montreal (1701)
  4. Peace and Friendship Treaty Ratification (1728)
  5. Murray Treaty (1760)
  6. The Royal Proclamation of 1763
  7. Treaty of Niagara (1764)
  8. London Township Treaty (1796)
  9. Selkirk Treaty (1817)
  10. Numbered Treaty One (1871)


  1. Jaime Battiste on Mi’kmaw Treaties
  2. Murray Sinclair on the Royal Proclamation of 1763
  3. Hayden King on Anishinaabe Treaties
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