Alan Corbiere: 250th Anniversary of the Treaty of Niagara
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Alan Corbiere: 250th Anniversary of the Treaty of Niagara

November 28, 2019


[Greeting in Anishinaabemowin] The reserve that I’m from is right in the centre of Manitoulin Island and the reason that I got into this whole
thing, about this wampum belt is that [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] I wanted to learn to speak my language
and I wanted to learn to speak it well I still can’t, but besides that fact, what
I ended up — in my learning, I ended up looking at different, all kinds
of different sources. I was learning stock phrases: aaniish naa.
That means how are you. And then, they’d say nishin, that you’re good.
Or mino-maadis, you’re living well. But I wanted to learn more than that, I thought,
I want to learn all of our old stories and how they’re told in Anishinaabe, and that
this is supposed to be how we would best express our Anishinaabe environmental
ethic. That was my reasoning at that point. So, I recored a number of elders and transcribed
and translated what they said, and then tried to understand that more fully. But through the course of
my research I ended up going to the archives in our community and I found a letter written in Ojibwe in
1862 at our reserve and when it was written in Ojibwe I didn’t really understand what it was about. And the main
thing that I want to try and emphasize, one of the main things that I want to try and
emphasize is in a lot of institutions like this, not
just the University of Toronto, but York — any university — we all debate and contemplate and talk about and research
and write what’s called Aboriginal worldview or Indigenous worldview, but what I find we’re missing in a lot of
this discourse, just because we’re not there yet, is the role that language plays in that
and there’s a whole lot a whole frontier if you want to call it that,
that we haven’t actually looked at in our language. So I found this text there and it was translated
already and I never knew what the covenant chain was about so that led me to try and understand this further.
And each time I learned one thing, I find I have to find where it goes back and going back further and further and further.
So then at the end, I end up not just talking about one belt but many of these belts that
I have. And this slide shows the continuum. What I
want to try to emphasize is that it wasn’t just an event, and that the treaties are often treated as an event rather
than a process. And that after 1764, part and parcel of that treaty was meeting every year with the British and
every year the British delivered presents to us and every year they came to talk and we called that polishing the chain.
So if anything happened throughout that year then you were to sit down and actually, what
they would call polish the chain, but we could say now make things harmonious and smooth, the relationship — anything
that had happened through the year. So, the other thing that I wanted to emphasize
is that for us, this didn’t come without a struggle. That people died so that we have something,
that people stood up — namely Chief Pontiac, Odawa Chief Pontiac, as well as a Seneca Chief stood up and they took
a stand so that we actually have something here today to talk about. Because the British were willing to run rough
shot over the whole country, and that was actually their perspective: That they had conquered the french and they
thought they’d conquered us as well. But it was these chiefs that stood up and said, “you conquered the French but not
us.” So, the other thing that I wanted to — when
I was first invited to talk, they said the Lieutenant Governor was going to be here So the way I kind of shaped this talk was
to look at each successive Lieutenant Governor once that institution was instilled here in Upper Canada, that I
wanted to show when these guys, the Lieutenant Governor in their capacity as a representative
of the Crown actually gave belts to us as well. And the
other thing that I want to mention off-the-hop is that these subsequent wampum belts do not diminish the principles
set out in the first 1764 belt, nor to they abrogate or derogate in any way anything that was transacted at Niagara at
that time. And in fact, they actually strengthen it and each of the Lieutenant Governors go on to say that, “I
give you this belt to strengthen my words.” So, these are various representations of that,
and throughout the presentation I hope to — if I get through it in 45 minutes — to
explain what each of these are about. So for us, when we talk about a treaty we
look at Anishinaabe perspective and of course now you hear a lot of the discourse in the mass media as
well as in scholarship is spirit and intent as well as looking at our understanding. So for us, when you look
at all these speeches, I put all these speeches together whenever they had a council, they would talk
about the — sometimes they would explicitly talk about the belt, but they would just about getting together
and what their relationship was. And this occurred every year. And you see
at the bottom here with this particular belt. When Sir William Johnson gave this, this represents,
when it’s on it’s own — a hexagon on its own usually represents a council fire, and there are designated
council fires between the British and Anishinaabe and those council fires were places of meeting as well
as places to give an receive the presents or the enactment of the treaty. So, down here for us on the Western confederacy,
it’s actually Detroit, Fort Detroit at that time, as well as Fort Michilimackinac. Then for the Eastern
confederacy it’s Fort Niagara where the treaty was given and then probably Johnson’s house, and then the other one would
be Montreal as well. So these are actual specific places designated
where you’re actually going to receive your presents. One thing, I was talking the other day, last
week actually, about the belts and this belt is usually called a peace and friendship belt and I was talking
to this person and I just said, “I don’t know why I detest that designation so much.” And I just feel like it diminishes the role
of this belt, that it isn’t just about peace and friendship. It makes it sound kind of
lame. And the person I was talking to thought it
was funny because she ended up saying, “yeah it makes it sound like you have two BFF bracelets.” These are
best friends forever. But actually they do say, “We tied our hands
together in the bonds of friendship with wampum.” So it does say that. But this belt to us actually means more than
that, it actually means our independence and that we weren’t subjugated by the British and it also is our Aboriginal
Title, or our land ownership, and it’s also our protection, or what now we call fiduciary responsibility.
It’s also our support what back then we called our warmth. So the Anishinaabe Chiefs, whenever they would
get up and talk about this, they would say, “We expect to receive our warmth again next
year.” And they’re talking about the blankets, the
cloth that were given at that time. And also the rum. But the other thing they said at that time
was they made a fire, so the council fire — draw warmth from the council fire as well. But it also, I think we ended up making a
bit of a mistake by tying in payment for past services. So when we fought alongside the British during
the American War of Independence and then during the War of 1812 and then afterward the annual treaty ended up taking on tones
of payment for past services, and then that’s when they started saying — after a while the Lieutenant Governor or the
Superintendent of Indian affairs started saying, “Well you’ve been paid long enough for your services during the late war.”
But that really wasn’t what this was about. So, there’s a book I recommend that I read,
it’s pretty — I needed a dictionary beside me, it’s a philosopher named Bruce Morito, he had written this book: “An
Ethic of Mutual Consent” and it’s about the covenant chain. But one
thing that I Like that he — I just wanted to show, he put the words that I was struggling with. So I always thought,
we always approached this Treaty of Niagara as a static time event frozen in time, but I want to demonstrate
that this is an example of what is meant as a living treaty. And in his recent book, Bruce Morito postulates
that the term process rather than event is then more appropriate for describing the covenant chain
treaty relationship. So I really latched on to that, that today
— actually today, July 31st on the Canadian side, what we now call the Canadian side of
the Niagara river was when this belt was actually given by Sir
William Johnson to the Western confederacy at that time. So we’re commemorating that, but at the same
time we actually for a hundred years after that, they gave us these presents and the Anishinaabek accepted
and abided by that as a framework for relationship building. So in fact, adopting a longitudinal orientation
allows one to see that the covenant chain is a framework that evolved from informal trading relationship
to one of military, political, and economic alliance eventually becoming a shared lifeworld with a highly contextualized
diplomatic language and semiotic set of symbols. How else can one explain the fact that wampum
belts presented on the first slide were constructed by the British representatives for the Anishinaabek? So I, this is my time to make a plug. But
I wrote an essay about the symbols that are on this belt and how they’re informed by prior treaties, namely the Dish With One
Spoon, as well as any other treaty about council fires as well as treaties using diamonds to represent the
nation. So, this medal here is actually part and parcel of the treaty. What I wanted to do when we go to Niagara
tonight and tomorrow — what I was hoping was to actually bring the medals and the treaty
together at that time. Because these are both used as pneumonic devices
to recount what the actual treaty was about. And here, for us, we end up saying — my primary
source document is that petition written in Ojibwa and that’s the first three lines that they say in that [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] I
still know how you talked to my ancestors when you bid them to go to war. That’s what the first line of that petition
says. Then the next line says… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] I will chase away anybody who
comes to your great lake. And then the next line says… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] You said to my parents, my ancestors
at Niagara that your children will own that land over there. So those three lines those are the opening
lines, and they said “I still know it.” And the second thing they said, that at that time “You own this land,” that’s what they said,
“your children will own this land.” So this belt represents Aboriginal Title. And then the other thing they said, “I will
chase away anybody who comes to your great lake.” Meaning that any fur traders, or any whisky
pedlars, or anybody like that that’s coming there for trade to rip off Anishinaabek, it was the Crown
who said that they would chase away anybody who comes to bother us. And that’s now what we call fiduciary responsibility
but back then that’s what the Anishinaabek called protection. We seek the protection of our great father. Oh, the last line there it also comes to represent
hunting and fishing and timber rights because at the end you see — I hope to show it by the end — that
we didn’t say that any of these other treaties that would exclude us from actually selling
fish or from selling timber or from selling anything.
And what ends up happening is that you get these, from all these years they’re actually
giving us guns, ammunition, ball shots, net thread, they’re giving us cod lines, mackerel
lines. For a hundred years they’re giving us all
the outfit to enact what we would now call our Aboriginal Hunting and Fishing rights. And then they passed the gaming and fish act
and then they started confiscating our catch, confiscating our boats and throwing our hunters
and fishers in jail. So of course all this land was Anishinaabe,
when I say Anishinaabe in this case, I mean instead of saying “the red man” of Peter Pan, I end up saying that it’s all of us that own
this land. So this medal here on the side was a medal that was given to friendly chiefs who didn’t side
with Pontiac at the time. So the friendly chiefs that didn’t side with him, they ended up getting this medal and the lion
of course represents the British, and he’s lying there non-plussed. And then here there’s a wolf
there, and the wolf they say is trying to rile up the great lion. And they call it the lion and wolf medal and
they say, this was when Pontiac tried, “that mangy-mutt Pontiac tried to rile up the King
and his forces.” So there were chiefs who were friendly to
the British at that time and they got that medal. So here, this is about Aboriginal and British
title, so I told you that they actually said at Niagara that, “You will own this land…” “…we acknowledge you own this land.” And that’s
Aboriginal Title to us. But in 1761, actually Sir William Johnson
had tried to enter the Western Confederacy into the covenant chain. And he thought he had done it, but the vanity
as well as the audacity of General Amherst, quashed all of his efforts by 1763. So at Detroit — and note here that he addresses
us as brethren because at that time we had not gone through the adoption ceremony, where we started to
address the King as our great father and he addressed us as the children. So at this point in time we’re still calling
each other brethren. And he says in council, “I can with confidence assure you…” “…that it is not at present neither hath it
been his majesty’s intention to deprive any…” “…Nations of Indians of their just property…” “…by taking possession of any lands.” So he’s
talking about that they defeated the French but we do not presume to takeover all what
they said that they claim. All they do is take over the forts that they set up – and all the land remains yours. So that’s
what this belt, again, represents: that they said, “Yes, we know you own the land.” So that sets the backdrop to this, but what
ends up happening there is that Sir William Johnson ends up gathering up all the nations again, he sends
runners all the way out to Rainy River area and invites the people, the Sioux, the Sac/Fox, Menominee
— all on the Western shores of the great lakes and they all come down, but they’re kind of
wondering if this is a trick because they know that they were just at war with the British and that Pontiac is still at war
with the British. So as we say in Anishinaabe… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] They always depend upon the
spirit. So what they did, and this was recorded by
fur trader Alexander Henry, and they set up what we call a jiisakiiwigaan
in our language but in English it’s been translated as a shaking
tent. So they set up the shaking tent and they put
the question to the spirt, “Will we be…” accepted “…as friends or foe? A wampum…” “…belt has been sent here inviting us to Niagara.”
So the one who comes in, we call him Mishiike, the snapping turtle and he’s the one who’s the translator for
the spirits to us. And he goes down and he comes back up, in
this world turtle’s really slow, but in the spirit world he’s one of the fastest. So he comes
back up and he says, “Sir William Johnson…” “…has his fires ready,” “…he’s got kettles over the fire, you will be
accepted as friend.” And then they put another question to him,
“How many soldiers are there?” And so again, the turtle leaves and he comes
back and he says, “As I flew down the shores…” “…of Lake Huron there weren’t…” “…any red coats. Even around Detroit there weren’t
very many. And I went along the shores of…” “…Lake Erie there weren’t too many.” “And I got to Fort Niagara, there were many
red coats. And then as I went along Lake Ontario,” “…and then I got to…” “..the St Lawrence. And when I got to the St.
Lawrence there were more red coats than there…” “…are leaves on the trees.” “And you would never be able to defeat them.”
So informed by what the spirit had told them, they decided that they would then come down
to Fort Niagara for this treaty. So Henry writes, he’s coming back down and
he says, “All the villages have been deserted,” “…save for a few old people and…” “…young children and they’re all gone to Niagara
for this treaty.” But the original covenant chain was supposedly
given in 1673 — as early as 1673 between the Dutch and the Mohawk on the Hudson River. And at that time they
say that the Dutch actually said, “We want to take you by the hand in friendship.” And then they had said that it would be with
a rope of friendship that we tie ourselves together, and they said, “Things continued on well while we had our
hands tied together in friendship, but the…” “…rope isn’t very strong,” “…so we cast an iron chain and again things
progressed well while we were bound by this…” “…iron chain. But iron rusts,” “…and it isn’t very valuable, anybody can make
an iron chain.” So they said, after a while, “We value our
friendship, so we want to show that value…” “..we make a silver covenant chain.” “And we know that when this silver is left
alone it will tarnish if it’s left alone,” “…so we said that we would get together every
year…” “..and we would — for the express purpose of
polishing that chain.” And of course the chain is a metaphor of the bonds of friendship. And of course tarnish — polishing the chain
is actually a metaphor for having a council to smooth over any disputes or any grievances that each side had. So,
one of the earlier representations of this covenant chain was that at either end – one was Anishinaabe
the other was Zhaagnaash and then they held a belt or a chain between the two. And then
they’ll be variations of this. But here, this is the one that ended up being
given to the Western Confederacy at Niagara on July 31st 1764. And you can see there they actually worked
in links of a chain and then one represents Anishinaabe and the other represents the Zhaagnaash. And on that medal
that I showed previously, they’re sitting under a tree and that’s part
of the promises that were recited, they said, “You had told us that… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “In the middle of your island
I will erect a tree, and under this tree…” [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “And where this tree stands,
I sweep all around it.” [Speaking in Anishinaabewmowin] [Translating] “…and then I lay out a mat
there for us to sit under there and smoke.” And they said also, “I put a fire in the middle
of your island and I put beside that fire…” [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] A poker. “So I put a poker beside that fire and if
you every think your fire is going low or going to go low, stoke it”. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “You stoke that fire,” he says. “Because I’ve piled beside your fire an ample
source of wood”. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “This log I pile beside, they’re
choice pieces of wood.” [Speaking in Anishinaabewmowin] [Translating] “The Spirit hears how I am talking
to you and he knows that all that I have said will be true and that your fire will never go out.” Those are the promises that they made us at
that time, and that’s what this belt represents is all that wrapped up in one speech. So, Sir William Johnson ends up saying, “Brothers
of the Western Nations, I desire you…” “…to take fast hold of the same and never let
it slip, to which end I desire that after…” “…you have shown this belt…” “…to all Nations, you will fix one end of it
with the Chippewa’ at St. Mary’s…” “…whilst the other end remains at my house.” So, once he said that then the Ojibwa Chief
got up and he says — the Ojibwa Chief ends up saying, “This belt should not be kept at Sault St.
Marie, it should kept at Michilimackinac,” “…a place of more…” “…prominence, a place more visited by all of
our people in the area. And it should be kept…” “…with my elder brother, the Odawa.” So that’s how the Odawa people ended up becoming
the keepers of this belt on behalf of the Western Nation. And then that’s how this belt, after the War
of 1812 and the American War of Independence, how this belt eventually found its way to being kept on Manitoulin
Island, where I’m from, where it was entrusted to the Odawa Chiefs
that moved there in 1836. Here are the 24 Nations that were represented
there are Niagara. And you see, it’s a bit uneven the way it
showed up but on the Eastern Confederacy — representing the Eastern Confederacy you have the Mohaws, the Caughnawagas, Oneidas,
Cannesadagas, Tuscaroras, Naticokes, Ononagas, Conoys, Cayugas, Mohicans, Senecas, Algonquins and
Nipissings. But of course, the Caughnawagas and Cannesdagas,
their village was so big that they were counted as one nation each, but they’re actually both
Mohawk as well. And then on the Western Confederacy it was
the Chippewas, Toughkamiwons (which are actually Rainy Lake area people) , Ottawas, Hurons,
Menominees, Winnebagoes, Algonquins, Sacs, Nipissings,
Fox and Crees. And then afterwards Delaware, the Munsee,
and the Shawnee would also be represented on this belt. So here again, perhaps you can’t see it too
well, but here there’s 24 nations on that belt and there’s a ship there. And then the other represents the rock at
Quebec. So this is the promise that was made by the British at that time that they would
always — this ship, they said… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “Your ship will never be empty.” That’s what they promised us. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “If anything is lacking in there,
you tell me and then I’ll go look for it.” “And then when I find it,” “…I’ll load it on to your boat, and then all
twelve of you grab that cord…” [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “That strong cord of friendship.” [Speaking in Anishinaabewmowin] [Translating] “And you all pull that in to
your shore and you’ll all be fed, you’ll all be clothed as well.” So those are the Nations that were represented
there, and what my theory is – but I haven’t been able to prove this – is that only 24 of these large medals were
given out to a representative of each of these different Nations. And then also other medals were given out,
but there’s ones that are large and then they said middling, and then small. And then there was one family on Manitoulin
that had a small one, and people called them coins, but they’re not coins, they’re medals, and they
have King George III’s face on one end, and then on the other side they have the coat of arms. And the Saywink family,
just ended up — they’re uncle ended up auctioning that off and it was sold maybe two years ago. And it had the
certificate that it was given to an Odawa Chief 1764, August 1st. And then on the back of that certificate,
it actually had written each time that it passed from father to son or nephew to uncle. So anyway, that’s one thing we lost and that
would have been a good thing to bring to this gathering. So here are all the different types of materials
that were given as part of this treaty. So you see they get all kinds of different
cloth: molten, strouds, calico, Irish linen, striped cotton, horse blankets, handkerchiefs,
Chiefs laced hats, Tobacco, ball, gun powder, shot. So they would
give us all kinds of things, sewing needles, thread, vermillion, and combs. And then the women would make the leggings,
they would make the skirts, they would make the shirts. And here you see this one is a nice example
of the ribbon work they used to do before they had sewing machines. So here’s the document that
was written in Ojibwe, and you can see June 27th, 1862. And in this we don’t say the Chiefs in this
document, and they never say it was your fiduciary responsibility, and they never say this is our Aboriginal Title, and
they never say this is our nation-to-nation relationship. So our job as scholars and researchers and
Anishinaabek, is we have to try and understand this and learn this and see how they talk
about it. Because when we talk about spirit and intent
and we talk about Aboriginal perspective or Anishinaabe understanding, this is as authentic a form as you’re going
to get, where it’s written down in Ojibwe by the Chiefs at that time. So again, the belt is shaken, as they say
— when they say they shook the belt, that means that something went wrong or awry. And of course it was the American War of Independence,
so the Nations — the Anishinaabe Nations, Haudenosaunee Nations, Crees, Sioux, Sac, Fox, they continued to
try and resist American expansionism and then they side with the British at that
time and then, of course, they lose as we know history tells us they ended up losing. But the British agents
keep egging on the Anishinaabek to stay in there. So the 1783 Peace of Paris, and then in 1786
Sir John Johnson, who was the son of Sir William Johnson, succeeds him in his role as Superintendent General of Indian Affairs
for British North America. So the belt was shaken, the Anishinaabek are
disillusioned with the British because they end up saying, “How did you have any right to cede away all
of our land? You don’t even own it.” “How did this happen?” So, they’re disillusioned with the British
and for a while they stop coming out to get their presents and what ends up happening, the British get frightened,
because they think the Anishinaabek are going to turn on them. So that’s when they decided they’ve got to
re-pledge this belt. So you see it says, “SSRIIBT”? But in latin
the I’s represent J’s. So it’s actually Sr. John Johnson Baronet
1786. And now for a father to be succeeded in a
government position by his son would be called nepotism and nobody would allow that. But back then that’s how we understood it,
because our chiefs were hereditary and this guy — they actually, the Anishinaabek and the Haudenosaunne
wanted him to be in his father’s place. And of course, the King and Queen, it was
a hereditary line as well so they saw no problem with that. So, as I mentioned, when I was first invited
I thought the Lieutenant Governor was going to be here, and so I thought I’d take a bit of an emphasis on how they
played a role in this — what their role was. So here we’ve got Lt. Governor John Graves
Simcoe. And this belt that he’s got, he’s pledged a belt and we — my friend, Brian Charles, made a replica of
it, but the actual original was longer and the original is kept at the National Museum of Natural History at
the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.. So, Lieutenant Governor — the subtitle of
my talk was, “Living Treaty and the Necessity of Corporate Memory”. So what, basically what I think ends up happening
is people end up succeeding the role of deputy superintendent or superintendent general of Indian Affairs,
or Lieutenant Governor they don’t get apprised of the responsibility,
they have a total lack of knowledge about treaties that have been passed down, as well as the diplomatic nature of the discourse
when they meet in council. So nobody brings them up to speed, basically.
And now you see that, of course, where now all they’re really looking at is in a legalistic framework, well this treaty
as an event was signed and here’s what it says in English it doesn’t actually look at what the Anishinaabek
perspective of it was at that time. But to Lt. Governor Graves Simcoe’s credit,
he actually read — it looks like he read all of Sir William Johnson’s correspondence. Because at this point in time, 1793, the Anishinaabek
had a — the Western Confederacy had two significant battles where they defeated the Americans.
They defeated Harmour and they defeated St. Clair, and these were big routes, the most significant battles and kills
on American soil at that time, and probably still till this day (I haven’t checked that
out, though). So, what ends up happening is the Americans
start saying, “You’re provisioning the Indians…” “…to continue their war against us.” “You’re giving them ammunition and shot. This
is an act of war on behalf of the British.” “You are engaging in a war act by giving…” “…all these Indians ammunition.” So he has to defend, Simcoe has to defend
his actions. So he says, he writes a letter to his superior on January 27th 1793: “I have thus, Sir, endeavoured to impress
by extracts from Sir William Johnson’s opinions,” “that our giving of provisions and necessaries
to Indians as possessors of the posts, as…” “…the result of ancient and undeviating system…” “…not directed by temporary motives and
that the military orders of these posts are…” “..to give them…” “…on whatsoever account they assemble. Such
supplies as may be required.” So he ends up telling them, this is actually
a longstanding practice, it isn’t just because we have temporary motives to try and get the
Americans out. So, what ends up happening after the Battle
of Fallen Timbers, the British are — the Anishinaabek are defeated by Anthony Wayne. And what ends up happening — the Anishinaabek
end up retreating, and they retreat back to Fort Miami. And then when they get to Fort Miami, the
British actually end up locking the gates and they don’t let the Anishinaabek in the gates to save themselves. So they end
up having to fight the Americans on their own and they’re slaughtered. And this is the Battle of Fallen Timbers and
it basically ends what they call the War on the Ohio. So again, this shook the belt. They ended
up being abandoned in the heat of battle by the British and the Western Confederacy are like, “What the hell
is up with you?” [Joking] And they actually translated that
in Ojibwe. So he ended up, Lt. Governor John Graves Simcoe
ends up meeting the Western Confederacy at the wind at town, which is Anderson, Brown’s Town – on the River
Detroit. And in council delivered a really long speech,
but I’ll just give you the main point here: “In the treaty between the English and the
conquerors and the French, it was stipulated…” “…that your rights should…” “…be preserved. Those rights which you enjoy
as an independent people.” So again, the idea is that you aren’t conquered.
Lieutenant Governor Simcoe ends up saying, you guys aren’t subject of the Crown, we know that, you are independent people,
you are allies. [reading from letter again] “Children, say why has this friendship lasted
so long? It is because the wisdom of your…” “…father appointed…” “…the late superintendent Sir William Johnson
to hold a treaty with all your Nations to…” “…consult what was best…” “…for your general and particular interests.
Children, a line between you and the British…” “…colonies was then drawn agreeably…” “…to your pointing out an inclination….” Again, this is supposedly the Royal Proclamation
line. “Children, the King were never suffered to
pass this boundary, and it would have continued…” “…to this day…” “…had the King’s people and those of the
United States remained at one.” (Of course, he’s stretching the truth there.) “Children, you must be convinced that your
father means everything for your welfare.” “I can only assure you that he will…” “…uniformly fulfill all his engagements
with you. His arms will at all times be ready…” “…to receive you, and his territory…” “…open to protect and defend you from all
his enemies. Children, the King, your father,” “…has always advised you…” “…to be strong and unanimous and at present
it is requisite for me to repeat his constant…” “…advice to you, which is…” “…to unite as one man. With this belt, therefore,
I now collect and bind you together and recommend to you…” “…friendship and unanimity, which is absolutely
necessary as well for your own interest as the general welfare of the country.” So that’s the speech that accompanies this
belt. And again, he makes specific reference to Sir William Johnson and the Treaty of Niagara. So that’s the main point that I’m trying to
show here: that after Sir William Johnson dies, the treaty doesn’t die, it isn’t just a one time event. His son takes over
and his son re-pledges it, and his son is still alive, his son is still the superintendent
general, but it’s the representative of the Crown in
Upper Canada, Lieutenant Governor Simcoe who ends up making another pledge to strengthen that
belt. So again, in 1806 a deputation of a Sac/Fox, Nii’inaa-Naadawe and Potawatomi
bring a war pipe to Amhertsberg, Fort Malden, which is south of Detroit. And they bring this war pipe and they say,
“We’re ready to go against the [anishinaabemowin word]…” That’s our word for the Americans. “We’re ready to go against the big knives.” And they wanted to fight them and the British
did not want to go to war yet, to open war. So they ended up, in 1807, William Claus ends
up giving a belt, which is on that table (well not the real belt, but a replica of that belt, which is on that
table.) And he says, “This is to tie your men down to have them
sit still.” So he’s the superintendent general of Indian
Affairs, but then they thought that maybe it would have more force if it came from the Lieutenant Governor. So again, this
is Lt. Governor Gore. And here, I found this sketch in the Claus
paper archives, and he said that he’s going to construct a wampum belt. And you see it says “FG” here, and then it
says, “black, white, black” and it has a heart. So again, their giving us belts, but they
end up changing the belts and they introduce new symbols, like this Valentine’s heart — we never used to have
the Valentine’s heart. The way they say we would represent a heart
would be two diamonds that are overlapping to represent the two chambers of a heart. But we use that straight line all the time
to represent the path of peace and good intentions, the undeviating road. And now, of course,
you hear our elders talk about red road or Anishinaabe road, but that’s the same thing that they talked
about. So in 1808, Lieutenant Governor Gore’s speech
to the Western Confederacy at Amhertsberg: “Children, it’s been my wish and desire for
a considerable time passed to meet you in general council of all Nations…” “…that I may personally assure you of the
King, your fathers constant regard for his Indian children, and to tell you that…” “…the treaty made at Fort Stanwicks in the
year 1768 is still held sacred by our great father as well as the treaty made by…” “..General Simcoe. Also, to renew at this
fireplace, the ancient friendship, which has subsisted for so long…” “…a space of time between your great father,
your ancestors, and yourselves, and eventually and freely to communicate…” “…to each other in conformity to the engagements
entered into, your fore-fathers and the English nation. “With this belt, I therefore renew all our
ancient friendship and those ancient customs which have been so wisely…” “…framed and agreed to by the general consent
by the Nations in the Country. Children, I came not to…” “…invite you take up the hatchet, but I
wish to put you on your guard against any attempt that may be made by any…” “…enemy whatever to disturb the peace of
your country. Children, make my words known and send this belt…” “…of amity and friendship to all the Western
Nations and others who are confederate with you.” And then it says, “gave belt, 11,550 grains.” So, we just had this sketch, and we had know
that actually the belt consisted of 11,550 grains of wampum, So I got my buddy to make that belt and I’ll
show that to you later. So again, the Anishinaabek lost their land
and during the War of 1812 — well during the War of the Ohio, they were promised — this was what was held out to
them: that along the Ohio River, West of that, all the way out to the Mississippi would be an Indian country or
a buffer state, they called it. So this is what spurred on Tecumseh, as well
as other Chiefs. Our Chief being Ningweegon and also the Odawa
Chief Assiginack. So after the war started, the Earl of Bathurst
had written on December 9th, 1812: The extreme importance of securing during
the continuance of hostilities with America, the cordial cooperation…” “…of the Indian tribes has been proved on
so many occasions. I so entirely concur in the expediency…” “…of the suggestions contained in your dispatch
as to the necessity of securing their territories from encroachment…” “…that I have submitted to His Majesty’s
Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs in order that whenever negotiations…” “…for peace may be entered into, the security
of the Indian possessions may not be either compromised or forgotten.” So again, he’s recommending that when they
end up having peace, that our land is restored to us, whatever we’ve won. And that whatever rights we had and privileges
before then, that actually stays. So of course, at this time, Brock and Tecumseh
have had a significant victory at Detroit and then also Michilimackinac was taken, and these all bolster
confidence in Upper Canada as well as with the Western Nations, and even at this point,
with the Haudenosaunee because the majority of the Haudenosaunee did not enter into the
battles early on. So in order to try and get more to the British
cause, they ended up — General Brock ended up being killed of course at Queenston Heights, and then what ends up happening
— He’s succeeded by General de Rottenberg, and
General de Rottenberg then writes out a speech and he has a wampum belt made and he sends a runner — he ends
up sending a fur trader by the name of Robert Dixon to go to all the Western Nations and to proclaim and to
try and actually get them to participate on the side of the British. So again, the other thing — the main point
again is that in his speech delivered with wampum: “My Children, remember Sir William Johnson,
he told you I never would forsake you or abandon you. I have not, nor will I…” “…lose hold of the belt that has been so
long among you. On the contrary, I will now make it stronger by the belt which…” “…I now present to you. And never will I
leave you, but as your father see that justice is done to you by the Big Knives…” “…and that your hunting grounds shall be
preserved for your use and that of your children. Agreeable to the treaty made…” “…and Grenville with the General Wayne some
years ago.” So that’s the actual official speech that
is made by the Lieutenant Governor, or Governor in Chief at that time — at that time General de Rottenberg. And again,
he makes express mention of the wampum Treaty of Niagara and Sir William Johnson. So Tecumseh and his confederates were all
into this and wanted to have this actually achieved. And of course, Tecumseh was killed as well. So, with Tecumseh killed they wanted to actually
get as charismatic and dynamic a leader to fill his shoes and so they looked to his son, Poughkeesie. And so the General Prevost who’s the Governor in Chief of both Upper and Lower Canada. They end up sending
a deputation saying that he wants an audience with Tecumseh’s widow, Tecumseh’s sister, and Tecumseh’s son. And at this particular meeting, he gets these epaulettes, arm bands, medals, a sword, and
a red scarlet coat. So that’s why I think that in this painting,
this is Tecumseh’s son. Because he’s got the epaulettes, he’s got the medals, and he’s got the arm bands and he’s got the
rifle. But of course, the painting is — the artist wasn’t the best. So General Prevost ends up saying that he
just wanted those three to come out. But what ends up happening — a deputation of the Western Confederacy come
out and then a representative of the six nations also come out. So you’ve go chiefs from the Fox, Sac, Ojibwe,
Odawa coming out with the Shawnee as well at that time to represent the whole confederacy, not just
that family. So on March 17th, 1814 at Quebec, Prevost had written out a speech and then
he had actually delivered wampum again: “My Children, listen to my words they are
the words of truth. Our interests are the same. We must still continue to fight…” “…together for the King, our great father,
considers you as his children and will not forget you or your interests at peace.” “But to preserve what we hold and recover
from the enemy what belongs to us, we must make great exertions, and…” “…I rely on your undaunted courage with
the assistance of my chiefs and warriors to drive the Big Knives…” “…from off all our lands the ensuing summer.” So he had big plans. “My Children, you will not forget what I have
said to you. This is my parole to the Nations.” And here the black wampum was presented. “Let them know what I have said. Tell them
they shall not be forgotten by their great father nor by me.” Here the bloody belt was presented. So whenever
they went off to war on the war path, they would pain the belts red with this vermillion. The vermillion would
be a powder and they would add water to it and then they would paint that and they would say, “Now we’re at war.” And only when war ceased would they wash that
belt clean. And then they would say, “We washed the belt clean and… “…now we bury the hatchet.” So you’ve all heard of the term, “bury the
hatchet”. But this is how — so he presented again wampum
to continue for the Western Confederacy to continue on the war path. So, the next Lieutenant Governor ends up being
General Drummond. And these are actually war clubs that are
in his collection as well as these two pipes and there’s pipe stems as well, and they’re at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
and at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation – when I was there – we were able to borrow that and put on display
an exhibit — and these are like pledges. When a warrior or war chief comes up to a
soldier, a British soldier or a war chief and he presents his war club, he’s telling him, “I’m going
to fight for you.” So that’s what ended up happening there. So of course, the Treaty of Ghent is signed
on Christmas Eve 1814, and they didn’t have the internet back then so they didn’t know — nobody heard of the
cessation of hostilities until late February. And then on March 3rd at Burlington Heights
(where now a dump truck is stuck on the bridge). At Burlington Heights on March 3rd, 1815,
General Drummond delivers a speech to both the Western Confederacy and the Eastern Confederacy. The Haudenosaunee are there, the Anishinaabe are there, the Delaware-Munsee, Fox, Sac are there as well.
So he says: “Chiefs and warriors, I salute all and will
begin by following your ancient customs. I therefore make use of these…” “…strings of wampum to dry and wipe away
the tears from your eyes.” And of course this is symbolic use of wampum
because you can’t possibly dry somebody’s eyes with a shell from the ocean. “And to drive away from your ears all noise
that may cause uneasiness among you, calm your minds and ease…” “…your hearts, that no object of distress
or affliction may disturb your seeing, hearing, and receiving favourably…” “…all communication made to you by your
great father, the King’s officers. The inevitable consequences of war…” “…leave everywhere blood of the wounded
and killed, and reminders of the loss of warriors. I now wipe away the blood…” “…and gather together the bones in order
to rid them from your sight. I have not received the treaty but once I do…” “…representatives will be sent and particulars
communicated to you and that the ceremony of condolence…” “…shall be finished with a belt agreeable
to your ancient customs and manners.” So, again another belt is going to be presented
by the governor, the acting governor on behalf of the British Nation, on behalf of the Crown to the Western Confederacy
and the Eastern Confederacy. And again, it referred back to this original
relationship. It wasn’t a whole new relationship, it wasn’t a whole new treaty. So they end up getting the treaty and this
is William Claus, who’s actually the grandson of Sir William Johnson, and he succeeds his grandfather’s position,
he’s the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs And he ends up getting a belt, making a belt
— and you see this belt at the bottom. They call it a Greek key or the swirl. And
what Rick Hill told me, who’s Seneca, that his Elders had said it represents a whirlwind and represents how
destructive the path of war is through a community, that it leaves everything is disarray. But
they call — I guess the pattern is called a Greek key. So the ninth article of the treaty is the
only time we’re mentioned in the Treaty of Ghent, it says: “The USA engaged to put an end to hostilities
with all the tribes or nations of Indians with whom they may be…” “…at war at the time of such ratification.
And forthwith, to restore to such tribes or nations respectively, all…” “…the possessions, rights, and privileges
which they may have enjoyed or been entitled to in 1811, previous to…” “…such hostilities. Provides always that
such tribes or nations shall agree to desist from all hostilities against…” “…the USA, their citizens and subjects upon
ratification of the present treaty.” So that’s what they actually treaty says,
the Treaty of Ghent, the ninth article. But at Burlington on April 24th, 1815, William
Claus actually says: “I’m further instructed to inform you that
in making peace with the government of the United States, your interests…” “…were not neglected nor would peace have
been made with them had they not consented to include you in the treaty…” “…which they at first refused to do, that’s
true. I will now repeat to you one of the articles of the treaty of peace…” “…which secures to you the peaceable possession
of all the country which ‘you possess before the late war’ and the road…” “…is now open and free for you to pass and
repass without interruption.” So he actually added this phrase, which is
actually key, because now we look at — all of us put big stock in the Jay’s Treaty that we have a right to
pass and re-pass the border unmolested. But here he actually gives us a wampum belt
and he tells us by the ninth article of the Treaty of Ghent between the United States of America that you have the
right to pass and re-pass unmolested through the country. So we actually added
“pass and re-pass” that’s not in the treaty, but that’s what we are told. And now when
you look at any kind of treaty litigation, they look at the record of what was actually
said in council as well. But that’s what we were told and that’s what
we believe to this day. So again, the presents from 1764 — of course,
just when they’re going to go to war, that’s when the the presents are all the more
finer, you get a higher quality of presents, you get a bigger quantity of presents. But when there’s no
war, no threat of war, then the amount of presents are lessened and then their quality are cheapened. And in fact,
right around this time, they gave us these medals — different medals at different times: 1815, 1814… And they were solid silver. And then around
1840 they started giving another medal and it actually was like the twoonie. You know when it was really cold and the centre
would pop out. This actual medal had two silver — it was silver plated, I don’t know what was in the middle, but they
put two silver coverings over it, so it was a casing. And then when the chief would walk it would
rattle, that’s how cheap it was. So I read of this, the Indian Agent at Manitoulin
says, “The Chiefs complain about the…” “…quality of the medals, they make a bit
of a noise.” So I just kind of laughed, and then here it
turns out that the Royal Ontario Museum has one of those in their collection. I put all these medals together that they
had and lifted them up, and I was like, “Hey, I think this is…” and then I kind of goes
— It isn’t a real loud ring, but it does ring.
So, they were getting cheap. They want to cut costs, they always want to
cut costs when it’s the Indians. So what they ended up doing — this fellow,
his name is Frances Bond Head and he’s pictures here on your left, He actually made his name in London, England
by cutting costs to what is now called a welfare act So he was able to successfully cut costs in
London, England so he ended up being more or less what we now call headhunted, to come here and cut costs in
the Indian Department. But he also a famous travel writer, so he
went down to Bolivia, he went to all these different places and he would write books about it. And his main competition
actually, at this time was Anna Jameson Bromwell. Maybe some of you have read or heard of her.
Anyway, these two end up getting in a bit of a dispute about that. He becomes a knight, and how he ends up getting
his knighthood: Nobody had seen anybody work a lasso before in London, England, so he gets a royal audience
and brings a rope and he starts doing lasso tricks with that and they make him a knight. So he ends up becoming
called Baronet Francis Bond Head. So he was told once he got the position in
January of 1814 — I mean January 1836, he was told what his instructions were. So he writes back to his superiors,
because he knows nothing about Indians, other than romantic views, and he’s coming to Canada for the first time.
So he says, he hears that there’s always a gathering at Manitoulin Island where they deliver the presents, which are blankets,
guns, ammunition, and all kinds of different cloth. He says, “It is my intention to attend this
most important meeting, and I trust I shall…” “…by that time, be competent to give your
Lordship an opinion on the first question upon which I am to report…” “Namely, how far it may be practicable with
good faith and sound policy gradually to diminish the amount of presents…” “…with a view to the ultimate abrogation
to the existing custom and whether in the meanwhile they might not..” “…be commuted for money payments. With respect
to the second question, namely what reduction may could be…” “…affected in the establishment of the Indian
Department, I will report upon that when I have determined the minimum…” “…to which the department can be reduced.” So again, he’s going there, he says “Well,
I gotta cut costs and I will see how much of these presents I can actually get away
with doing.” And this is when, I believe, when they first
started calling this a custom. So he actually officially calls it: “Do away
with the custom of giving Indians presents annually.” Of course, it’s not a custom it’s a provision
in a treaty. So this is the subtle wordplay that starts
to happen. So he shows up and this is Chief Jean-Batiste
Assiginack, Odawa Chief and interpreter for the Indian Department. After the War of 1812 — he distinguished
himself during the War of 1812 and they gave him a blue admiral’s coat, and cockade hat as well, as well as the high
black boots. And I know it’s him because somebody wrote on the actual painting, “Assiginack.” So, he ends up — When
Bond Head comes to Manitowaning when all the Anishinaabek are there, he tells them that, “We’re going to reduce
the amount of presents that are given, and any of you Anishinaabek that…” “…are from the United States coming here
for presents, in five years you’re no longer going to be able to do so. And if…” “…you’re a woman and you’ve married a non-Native,
you’re not going to be able to get these presents either.” So they had this kind of long-standing will
to cut and to cut down the numbers as well. So Assiginack brings these belts out in front
of him and he says — this is what Sir William Johnson said, “My Children, I cloth your land, you see that
Wampum before me, the body of my words, in this the spirit of my words…” “…shall remain, the Indian being my adopted
children their life shall never sink in poverty.” So that was what the oral tradition was at
that time, they always said, “You told us we would never sink into poverty.” And of course, you see stuff that’s happening
up North, like at Attawapiskat and there are other reserves as well. So I just complemented that with a quote from
Sir William Johnson back in 1764, he says to the Western Confederacy: “The English will deal fairly with you, they
will treat you kindly, and trade with you honestly. You will grow rich, and happy…” “…and your brothers contented so that our
union cannot be shaken.” That’s what Sir William Johnson had told the
assembled Chiefs there. The other way that they actually said this
and how it was codified in that letter written in Ojibwe, the Chiefs had said, [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] This is what will happen to
you. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] As you look about all the sky… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] look for the life of your children
where the sun rises… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] and you will see a sun rising
red. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] That is the image of the life
of your children. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] And as that sun gets even higher… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] It will be shining brilliantly… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] that is the image of the life
of your children. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] And even higher that sun will
go… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] and as the sun gets higher,
the rays of the sun will touch all of the earth and in different places flowers will
bloom, flowers will appear. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] That is the image of the life
of your children. So of course, their promising us prosperity,
sunny, happy days, and a tiptoe through the tulips So now we’ve got to help that happen again. So this — Bond Head is so enamoured with
this, he’s so impressed with Assiginack’s recollection of these wampum belts and he’s so impressed with how all the Anishinaabek
are there and of course, like I said, he’s a travel writer, and then he says: “Let’s make a treaty.” So of course — the funny thing about this
treaty is that the way it’s written, if you read the treaty he says, “The British… “…relinquish their title to this land.”
Of course they had no title to it. And then he says, “Do you, Odawa and Ojibwe also…” “…relinquish your title to this? If yes,
affix your signature to my proposal.” So they do it, but then one smart-ass says,
“Well, who owns the island then?” Because everyone gave it up. But the first
line — and I think this is the only treaty, actual written treaty that actually references the 1764 Treaty of Niagara. The
first line say, “Seventy snow seasons have now passed away since we met..” “…in Council at the crooked place (Niagara),
at which time and place your Great Father, the Kind, and the Indians of…” “…North America tied their hands together
by the wampum of friendship.” Every other treaty starts off with, “Know
Ye by these presents forthwith.” They end up talking about indentures and ceding
land. But this treaty is unique in that it says, ” Seventy snow seasons…” “…have now passed since we tied our hands
together in the wampum of friendship.” And so we look at this treaty as being a stronger
treaty in our eyes here. And then they wrote in another petition afterward: [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] “Miinawaa dash
eko niizhitana-ashi-ninogodwaaswi eko-daso-biboonagag…” “…miinawaa ningii-bi-odisigonaa gichi-ogimaa…” [Translating] They said — this is in 1862
when they’re writing this petition, they said, “It was 26 years ago when the gichi-ogimaa…” “…(meaning Bond head) had come here.” [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin} “…ningii-bi-zoongitamaagonaa maanda ni-minisiminaa
ji-aapiji-…” “…dibendamaang niinawi e-nighinaabewiyaang.” [Translating] “And he told us in the strongest
terms that we are the absolute masters of this island.” So that’s their recollection of the 1836 Treaty. So again, the Anishinaabek view this as a
treaty that is continually evolving and that every year that the British come on our shores, to our land, bringing presents,
they’re enacting and fulfilling the precepts and the principles of that treaty. So they do this at Michilimackinac, they do
this at St. Joseph’s Island, they do this at Drummond Island, they do this at Penetanguishene for one year, then
they do it again Manitowaning from 1836 to 1854, and then that’s
when they’re finally able to cut that out all together.
And then they also do it at Fort Detroit, Fort Niagara, Fort York, Kingston, and Quebec. So here’s a longstanding Indian
Agent, his name is Thomas Gummersall Anderson. By this time they’re still trying to get rid of all the Indians again,
and they’re trying to cut the expense that they have and all these obligations to the Anishinaabek, not just the Anishinaabek
but the Haudenosaunne, anybody — they’re trying to cut the costs all the time. So there’s always sending these
reports out to the Indian agents in the field and they ask them all these different questions. So the question was,
“With regard to those resident within the settled portions of the Province,” “…what lands have exclusively been appropriated
to, or reserved by them, and by what right and in what form have…” “…those appropriations and reservations
been made?” This guy, he could speak Ojibwe and this guy
actually fought with the Anishinaabek during the War of 1812. He fought at Prairie du Chien and he fought on the Western
front with them. So he knew Anishinaabek intimately and by
this time, 1840, he had been their superintendent for — who’s good at math? 25 years? Yeah. 25 years. And here’s his answer: “The Indians have no
record of past events. All they know of the original engagements…” “…between the government and themselves,
as far as I am acquainted, is by tradition. Except two memoranda,” “…wampum belts, which they hold. The one
being a pledge of perpetual friendship between the North American Indians..” “…and the British Nation, and was delivered
to the tribes at Council convened for the purpose by Sir William Johnson…” “…at Niagara in 1764. From the Indian tradition
on account of it, a written explanatory document was delivered with them…” “…but it is not now forthcoming. After the
death of Sir William, his son Sir John Johnson succeeded his…” “…late father’s situation and renewed the
pledges in 1786 by depositing with the tribes another belt of the same kind.” “These are the only records amongst the Indians
within my knowledge.” So again, he ends up calling them memoranda
instead of treaties. So again, there’s this continual diminishment of the terminology of what these actually are. And
then they always end up calling them — they want to do away with the custom of giving Indians these presents. But it’s
not a custom. So this guy was well versed in what they would
call Woodland Diplomacy, he knew all — whenever people would get up and talk and he knew how they would talk in Ojibwe
and he knew how they talk about — there’s a lot of different speeches where he had to write down and then he would
put parenthetical remarks beside it to say what the Chief actually meant. If the Chief wrote, “There’s dark clouds
that were coming as I was passing on my way here when I passed…” “The fort at Michilimackinac. A Dark cloud
was over there.” And then put in quotes: “Meaning that the
Americans were threatening him to not come here to get his presents.” So, this corporate memory is there, on the
ground, in the field. But then, actually, when you go up to higher stations within the bureaucracy of Indian Affairs by
the 1840s, especially by 1850 and 1860, their corporate memory is really not as strong as it was before.
And of course, this is because the diminishment of the role of Anishinaabek as warriors, needed as warriors. But interestingly,
during the Upper Canada Rebellion, they actually sent another wampum belt. Up to Chief Assiginack and then that Chief
Assiginack took it West to Sault St. Marie and then down into L’Arbre Croche to get them ready if they needed to send the
Anishinaabek warriors down to quell the Rebellion. So again, when they need them, then they would
give these wampum belts, but when they didn’t they just entered into these texts. So this is, for us, an infamous
treaty: 1862 Treaty. And beside the treaty with the signed clan signatures there’s a fellow named William McDougall who
is a Father of Confederation, and at this point in time he’s actually the commissioner of Crown lands.
But in 1861, two treaty commissioners were sent up to Manitoulin Island. There names were Bartlett and Lindsay, and
then they actually came up and they told the Chiefs in Council, they said, “the 1836 Treaty is invalid and
it was invalidated because in the treaty it says that 9000 Indians would come here and live. Clearly there are not 9000
of you living here, therefore, the Treaty is null and void.” And even further so, they said “You don’t
own the land, you don’t own this island. What claim do you have to own this island?” That’s what Bartlett and Lindsay were saying
in 1861. So the government regrouped and they said, “Well, through the King’s benevolence we’ll
offer you 25 acres per head of family.” That’s what Bartlett and Lindsay said in 1861.
The Indian agent worked from October all the way to summer, and he worked on individual Chiefs, and then he
wrote to his superiors and he said in 1862, “If more favourable terms..” “…were offered, let’s say 100 acres per
head of family, maybe some of the Chiefs would sign the treaty.” So that’s how they ended up dividing and conquering
some of the — to get the Manitoulin Treaty signed. But what ended up happening, they said — and
also he recommended instead of sending two Treaty Commissioners who do not know much about this, it would
be better if you actually sent the Minister or the Commissioner who has the authority. So, the Anishinaabek were really
suspicious of those other two guys that came up, they just thought they were private individuals, so they sent
the Commissioner of Crown lands, one of the Fathers of Confederation here. And then, when he offered his terms, one of
the Chiefs got up and he says to him in Ojibwe, “You spoke of a perfectly beautiful white
bird…” And I just picture this guy sitting there
and he’s like, “What the hell’s this Indian talking about? That there’s a white bird…” “…somewhere? I came here to get land, I
came here to get a treaty.” But what actually they said in that petition,
he says: “ni-niijaanisidig bakwadinaa ninozhitoon gichi-ashpadinaag” [Translating] He says, “I make here a high
hill, and I make it very high.” “mii dash azhiwi gaa-zhi-asag awi bineshiinh
gichi-bishigendaagozid wayaabishizid” [Translating] “And on top of that, I put perfectly
beautiful white bird on top of that mountain” And he says, “And at my house, I too will
keep a perfectly beautiful white bird. And at my house, I’ll make another…” “…mountain very high where this white bird
will sit. And if I have anything to say to you I will tell my white bird.” “And if you have anything to say to me you
tell your white bird.” And he says, “And further, I’ll make a road,
I’ll make a high road between our two countries.” And so, now what we say is we have proper
channels of communication between, and we would say it’s through our nation-to-nation relationship that the
perfectly beautiful white bird would be — now could be the Minister of Indian Affairs, but back then it would have been
the Governor General or a Crown representative. And on our end I believe it’s the Odawa Chief, who was the
keeper of the wampum belt. So this is our representative and our nation-to-nation
relationship. So when this Chief gets up at this treaty
council he says, “You spoke of a perfectly beautiful white bird who I should..” “…relay my thoughts to concerning my land
and my ownership.” And he says, “I’m happy to see you here, that
you brought your white bird.” So this guy must be just befuddled at what
the hell is this guy talking about — mountains and birds and stuff like that. So then they also said they would — they
would call it, like I said, support and warmth. And here, this is actually a painting of Manitoulin
Island done around — between 1845 and 1850. And the reason I know that is because this
is a painting of George Ironsides, and he had red hair and a red beard. And then, like I said, Assiginack, they wrote
that it was Assiginack — so Assiginack is still alive. And then here, this is Samuel Jarvis Peters
— or Peters Jarvis, sorry — who Jarvis street is named after, and we part of the Family Compact and then he was Super Intendant
General if Indian Affairs, but he ended up getting into quite a bit of trouble due to his sloppy bookkeeping.
There were charges of, actually, misappropriation of funds and stuff like that. Then that kind of first tarnished the name
of Jarvis street — just kidding. So this building, it might still be standing
there — and the Anishinaabek still own a plot of land at Manitowaning. But you see all the Anishinaabek and Anna
Jameson writes in 1837, that there are up 3000 Anishinaabek gathered there. They’re Ojibwe, Odawa, Pottawatami, of course.
But they’re also Menominee, she said, and Ho Chunk, who’s commonly called Winnebago. And you see how far these guys came, they
came from Greenbay, Wisconsin to come and get their presents here and to fulfill the role of this Treaty. But
here you see all the cloth piled up and you see the first two rows have gotten their dispersements
already. So that’s what they said… [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “There’s one more thing you’re
promised.” [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “I give you this boat.” [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] [Translating] “This boat will never be empty” That’s what they promised us. So here, these are extra articles that they
would give us at different times. Guns, common guns, Chief’s guns, rifles, brass kettles, tin kettles, fishing
hooks, codlines, net thread, Russia or Scotch sheeting — And that’s like a canvas that we would use
for our sailboats as well as for our canoes or even to use over our tents. So bear that in mind that they’re giving us
these implements. And then they turned around and they passed
the Fish and Game Act, and they they start throwing us — our fishers in jail. They confiscate his catch, they take his net,
they even take their boats. So at a Grand General Council in Garden River
in 1869 they wrote a petition. And they said, “We met in Grand Council..” — And they forwarded
this petition to Little Current the following year… “We met in Grand Council at Little Current
on the 25th of July, 1870 for the consideration of that sacred friendship, which…” “…has existed between our forefathers in
the year 1764, at which time a wampum belt had been made by the British…” “…Government as an emblem of that sacred
friendship, which is now before us in our assembly.” “And after long deliberations, we came to
the conclusion to renew that sacred friendship by having smoked the pipe of…” “..peace as a token of perpetual friendship
between the different tribes and bands assembled.” “Great Chief, we would, therefore, humbly
ask and entreat your excellency to the sacred friendship renewed..” “…as we do in our part by respecting our
rights to the lands. Hunting and fishing, which are virtually ours, which the…” “..Great Spirit hath given us many hundreds
of years before the white man set his foot upon this..” “…good and delightful country of ours. Great
Chief, we sometimes think that the sacred friendship is not held…” “…so sacred as when first made as we have
some grievances that we wish to mention to Your Excellency for redress.” So when they’re addressing the Excellency,
that’s the Governor General. By this time, the Lieutenant Governor is succeeded or superseded by the Governor General.
That’s when they started addressing all their concerns to the Governor General. So the specific concerns that they have, they
said that: “Indian Affairs sent commissions to induce
us to surrender our property.” “That the Game and Fishery Act makes us liable
to suffer imprisonment or fine.” “That when we remove anything from our reserve
to sell we are liable to the same punishment.” (Meaning fines or imprisonment) “Gradual Enfranchisement Act does not suit
us, though some clauses are suitable.” “The islands of the north shore of Georgian
Bay and lake Huron were not properly surrendered.” So you see how they referred to this belt,
and they tied all their grievances as being a contravention of the principles set out in that belt at that time.
So the Chiefs continued to adhere to this Treaty of Niagara, not just in 1764 but all the way, even after the British
stopped giving us presents in 1852/1854. They tried to keep having the Wampum of Niagara
be enforced long after. So they actually said — they weren’t listened
to, of course — then they said, “We didn’t receive a response to our…” “…petition so we’re going to go to Ottawa.
And if we’re not heard at Ottawa, then we’re going to go to Quebec.” “And if we’re not heard at Quebec, then we’re
going to England.” And then they actually received a written
response, and it said: “Any Indians going to Ottawa or Quebec or
England will not receive an audience. And if you do so, your expenses will not be covered.” And of course, they hold the purse-strings
to our funds, the Indian Management Fund. So they had another Grand Council again at
Garden River — and this was in 1879, but then in 1881, they have another one where they’re going to send a deputation.
So in this petition they said they, “Were told by their Great Father, the King,
he would not always live to look after them and their rights, that after his…” “…decease efforts might be made by evil,
disposed persons to deprive them of their presents, and if they were ever…” “…so unfortunate as to lose them, all they
would have to do would be to present the Treaty..” (meaning the Wampum) “…and the medal, which I give to them. To
my successor in the throne of England and both the covenant and the promise…” “…would be speedily and faithfully carried
out and the presents restored to them.” So the Chiefs, all this time, expressly tied
the medal to that wampum belt and that those two actually represented the Treaty of Niagara and here in 1879 and in
1881 they actually tried to get that reenacted — or not reenacted by adhered to and followed. But again, they were denied
an audience and then — there’s four different stories of what happened to the original belt. The original belt used
to be in Manitowaning. One of the stories is that there was a hotel called the Queen’s Hotel
in Manitowaning and it had a large coffee table, and the coffee table had a glass top. And under there lied the
wampum belt. And then that hotel burned down. So that’s one story of what happened to the original wampum belt. The
other story is that it was buried with one of the Chiefs of Wikwemikong. The third story is that a family still has
this and they’ll bring it out at the right time. And then the fourth story, I was told by a
curator at the Assiginack Museum, is that he actually saw the original belt at a museum in Chicago. And I said, “the Field
Museum?” And he said, “No, one of these smaller, rinky-dink
museums.” And I said, “Well, what was it’s name?” He said, “I don’t remember.” And I was like, “Oh, you just don’t want to
tell me because you know I’m going to go there and get it.” So anybody going down to to Chicago, have
a look around. See where these belts might be. Miigwech. [Speaking in Anishinaabemowin] It’s really humid and warm today, but I thank
you all for listening and for sitting here the whole time. Miigwech.

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