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The Treaty Makers - Red Crow (Mi'k ai'stowa)

The Royal Proclamation of 1763
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In the 16 and 17 hundreds, the soldiers and sailors of France and England attempted to destroy each other in a long series of wars for international supremacy. Their battle grounds included the territories of New France and New England where settlers with the help of the Indians were by then trapping, trading, clearing farms and building towns. When the wars reached the New World, settlers on both sides of the conflict quickly affirmed their friendship with the Indians in an attempt to secure fighting allies or at least guarantee Indian neutrality. The British formalized these guarantees by writing them down in an Agreements of Peace and Friendship. From the earliest days of European exploration, to the late 1700’s in what eight of these agreements drawn up and signed by both parties as European legal tradition dictated.

The last of these wars between France and England raged for 7 years and changed the face of North America forever. The spectacular fortress of Louisbourg fell in 1758. Quebec, the heart of New France fell the year after. Any French hope for control of the New World was dashed. At the end of the war King George the III of England issued an important directive on Indian rights. Now called simply the Royal Proclamation of 1763 this document played such a central role in the definition of Indian rights, it is sometimes called the Indian Magna Carta. It confirmed that a vast area in the interior of North American was Indian country and would be preserved as hunting grounds for the Indians. The Eastern boundary was formed by the Appalachian mountains. But the Western boundary was left undefined. King George ordered that no one could use these lands without the public permission of the Indians themselves. And only the Crown or its authorized representatives, he said, could actually acquire the land if indeed the Indians were willing to part with it. And so in a single brief document, a British monarch had laid out the basic formula for treaty negotiation in Canada. From this point on, the British Crown would be the central agent in the transfer of Indian lands to colonial settlers. And land was something that settlers would be looking for plenty of.

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