Polishing the Chain: Treaty Relations in Toronto
Polishing the Chain: Treaty Relations in Toronto was the 2021-22 edition of York University’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change annual seminar series. Six webinars were held over the academic year, featuring Indigenous and allied scholars, knowledge holders, artists, and activists who explored the spirit and intent of Toronto treaties, the ways Indigenous peoples have and continue to uphold them, the extent to which they are (and are not) reflected in contemporary Indigenous / state relations, and the possibilities these open for working towards conciliation and establishing right relations with each other, and the Land.
Seminar 1 - The Symbolic Language of Wampum Diplomacy
Speakers: Rick Hill – Writer, artist, historian, and curator from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory; Dr. Alan Ojig Corbiere – Associate Professor, History, York University, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous History of North America; Ange Loft – Associate Director, Jumblies Theatre and Arts
At the 1764 Treaty of Niagara, the British extended their nearly century-old Covenant Chain alliance with the Haudenosaunee, to the 24 Western Nations of the Great Lakes area. In this talk, Dr. Alan Ojig Corbiere and Rick Hill discussed the Covenant Chain, the visual and metaphoric language of wampum diplomacy, and explored the symbolism represented in the 1764 and 24 Nations belts delivered at Niagara to secure this crucial alliance. The symbolism inscribed in these belts drew from the Dish with One Spoon Wampum, and would have been used deliberately as a means of securing relations with Indigenous nations. Ange Loft discussed the ways this visual language is deployed in her current A Treaty Guide for Torontonians and Dish Dances, both of which will be featured in the 2022 Toronto Biennial of Art.
The Symbolic Language of Wampum Diplomacy was co-presented with the Toronto Biennial of Art.
Speakers: Dr. Deborah McGregor – Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Environmental Justice, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change, York University; Carolynne Crawley – Founder of Msit No’kmaq; Dr. Adrianne Lickers Xavier – Assistant Professor, Indigenous Studies, McMaster University
Indigenous/Crown treaties are not moments where colonial law was imposed. They represent a meeting between Indigenous and colonial legal orders. To understand our treaty relations, we must understand the Indigenous laws, knowledge systems and visions of justice they are grounded in. In this talk speakers reflected on their work in Indigenous Environmental Justice in relation to Indigenous law and treaties, to explore the ways these agreements guide Indigenous Land stewardship, and ways they are being lived in Toronto and Southern Ontario today.
Speakers: Selina Young – Director, Indigenous Affairs Office for the City of Toronto; Dr. Leela Viswanathan – Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen's University. Founder and Principal, Viswali Consulting; Bob Goulais – Founder, President and Senior Principal, Nbisiing Consulting.
Treaties, the Crown’s Duty to Consult, and Ontario’s Provincial Planning Policy Statement have triggered new practices of Indigenous consultation and urban planning in Toronto. To what extent does city planning include Indigenous nations and communities? To what extent do Indigenous peoples have meaningful authority or decision-making power in relation to Land and Waters? To what extent does the City recognize and enable their ability to practice ceremony, plant and harvest food and medicines, or enact stewardship responsibilities?
Seminar 4 - The Forgotten Promise of Niagara
Speakers- Dr. Hayden King, Executive Director, Yellowhead Institute; Dr. Eva Jewel, Research Director, Yellowhead Institute; Vanessa Dion-Fletcher, Artist.
The 1764 Treaty of Niagara is the foundational agreement between the Crown and the Anishinaabek, and a moment of renewal of the foundational Covenant Chain or Two Row Wampum between the Haudenosaunee and Crown. Here the 1763 Royal Proclamation, which announced British arrival and supposed sovereignty in the region, was transformed by Indigenous partners as it was adopted as treaty. Many see Niagara as a constitutional moment anchored in Indigenous and British legal traditions. British promises at Niagara included recognition of Indigenous title and sovereignty, and an on-going commitment to peaceful coexistence and trade for mutual benefit. Indigenous peoples would never sink into poverty. Importantly, The Treaty of Niagara is a foundational context for all subsequent agreements Indigenous nations made with the Crown. In this talk, speakers explored the significance of this agreement and how (or if) implementing Niagara could contribute towards decolonization and Indigenous calls for Land Back.
Seminar 5 - The So-Called Toronto Purchase
Speakers: Margaret Sault – acting Executive Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation; Bryan Laforme – former Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation; Carolyn King – former Chief of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation; Creator of the Moccasin Identifier Project
Speakers from the Mississaugas of the Credit discuss the history and legacy of the 1787/1805 Toronto “Purchase” and shared Mississauga oral history and knowledge of the agreement. What was the spirit and intent of this agreement, from a Mississauga perspective? What kind of authority or recognition has come out of the 2010 Specific Claim related to the “Purchase”? What efforts are underway for the Mississaugas to maintain, and strengthen relations with the Lands and waters of the GTA? How should we, as Torontonians, honor this agreement?
Seminar 6 - We are all Treaty People
Speakers: Leah Decker – Canada Research Chair in Creative Technologies, NSCAD University; Adrian Smith – Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School; Chris Ramsaroop – Organizer, Justicia for Migrant Workers; Sarah Rotz – Assistant Professor, York University; Lauren Kepkiewitz – Banting Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Manitoba
In this panel, speakers explored how as artists and/or scholars involved in non-Indigenous led social movements, they understand and take up their treaty responsibilities.
Polishing the Chain: Treaty Relations in Toronto was presented by York University’s Faculty of Environmental & Urban Change in partnership with York’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages, Dr. Deborah McGregor’s Indigenous Environmental Justice Project and Jumblies Theatre + Art’s Talking Treaties, with support from the Toronto Biennial of Art, York’s Vice-President Research & Innovation, York University’s Indigenous Teaching and Learning Fund, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University Faculty Association - Community Projects, and Lisa Myers’ York Research Chair in Indigenous Curatorial Practice.
WHAT IS A TREATY?
“Once the Five Nations agreed to unite”: Joyce Tekahnawiiaks King, “The Value of Water and the Meaning of Water Law for the Native Americans Known as the Haudenosaunee,” Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 16, no. 3 (2007): 456.
“At the Narrows our fathers placed a dish”: “Chief Yellowhead Speech at General Council, 22 January 1840,” RG10-A-6-i, vol. 1011, Paudash Papers, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
THE TWO ROW WAMPUM
“Now we have laid our vessels out”: Haudenosaunee oral tradition as conveyed by Rick Hill, email communication to Martha Stiegman, December 1, 2021. Content on the Two Row Wampum provided by Rick Hill.
THE COVENANT CHAIN, 1667
**“Above one hundred years ago the Dutch”: “Proceedings of Council at Lancaster, 24 June 1744,” in Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, from the Organization to the Termination of the Proprietary Government: The Making of Modern Law – Primary Sources, 1620–1926, vol. 4 (Harrisburg: Theo. Fenn and Co, 1851), 707.
“It is now almost 100 years since”: “The Honorable William Johnson’s Second Speech to the Sachems and Warriors of the Confederate Nations, 24 June 1755,” in O’Callaghan, Documents Relative to the Colonial History, 970, 972.
THE FIRST TREATY IS WITH THE LAND
**“Once the Five Nations agreed to unite”: Joyce Tekahnawiiaks King, “The Value of Water and the Meaning of Water Law for the Native Americans Known as the Haudenosaunee,” Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 16, no. 3 (2007): 456.
“At the Narrows our fathers placed a dish”: “Chief Yellowhead Speech at General Council, 22 January 1840,” RG10-A-6-i, vol. 1011, Paudash Papers, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.
PEACE BETWEEN NATIONS
**“The Dish with One Spoon... is probably”: Doug Williams, quoted in Melissa Dokis and Anne Taylor, dirs., interpreted by the People of Curve Lake First Nation, Inaakonigewin Andaadad Aki: Michi Saagiig Treaties – Defining Relationships between Peoples (Curve Lake: Curve Lake First Nation, 2017), 4:13.
“I think we did invite them...”: Rick Hill, “Bringing Treaties to Life: What Does It Mean to Be a Treaty Person When You Do Land-Based Work?” (panel presentation, Toronto Urban Growers, Greenest City, and Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security, online, November 17, 2020), 1:08:50.
“That the Great Spirit has brought us”: Jones, History of the Ojebway Indians, 117–18.
“The Onondaga chief, John Buck”: Ibid., 118–19.
“Yellowhead stated that this Belt”: “Minutes of a General Council held at the River Credit, 16 January 1840,” RG 10, vol. 1011, Part B: 60–92, Paudash Papers, LAC.
“[ Johnson] then explained the emblems”: Jones, History of the Ojebway Indians, 121–22.
THE TREATY OF NIAGARA: THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION & PONTIAC’S WAR
**“Englishman, although you have conquered”: Alexander Henry, Travels and Adventures in Canada and the Indian Territories between the Years 1760 and 1776: In Two Parts (New York: I Riley, 1809), 44–45.
“If you suffer the English among you”: “Journal of James Kenny, 1761–1763,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 37, no. 1 (1913): 171.
“It is important for us”: Robert Navarre, Journal of Pontiac’s Conspiracy, 1763, ed. Mary Agnes Burton, trans. Richard Clyde Ford (Detroit: Society of Colonial Wars, ), 38.
“The Six Nations look on themselves”: “Croghan Journal: 25 July, 1761,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 71, no. 4 (1947): 409–10.
“that the Indians may be convinced”: By the King, a Proclamation: Whereas We Have Taken into Our Royal Consideration the Extensive and Valuable Acquisitions in America, Secured to Our Crown by the Late Definitive Treaty of Peace, Concluded at Paris the Tenth Day of February Last (London: King’s Printer, 1763),
“And whereas it is just and reasonable”: Ibid.
THE 1764 TREATY OF NIAGARA
**“At this treaty... we should tie them down”: “To Thomas Gage, 19 February 1764,” in The Papers of Sir William Johnson, vol. 4, ed. Alexander C. Flick (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1925), 330–31.
“With regard to trade I think nothing”: “To Cadwallader Colden, 9 June 1764,” in ibid., 443.
“Whenever it may happen that a peace”: “To Thomas Gage, 12 January 1764,” in ibid., 296.
“My friends and brothers, I am come”: Henry, Travels and Adventures in Canada, 165–66.
“At Fort Niagara, he had seen no great”: Ibid., 170–71.
“Sir William J will fill their canoes with presents”: Ibid., 171.
“But as for those nations who have obstinately”: “At a Convention of the Chiefs and Warriors of the Six Nations & Western Nations at Niagara, 8 July 1764,” MG 19 – F35, Series 1, Lot 619: 1–2, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Ottawa.
“Our families are in much distress”: “At a Congress with the Ottawas at Niagara, 29 July 1764,” in The Papers of Sir William Johnson, vol. 11, ed. Milton W. Hamilton (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1921), 284.
“My children, I clothe your land”: Petition from J.B. Assikinawk, October 10, 1851, RG 10, vol. 613: 440–43, Indian Affairs Superintendency Records, Northern (Manitowaning), Superintendence Correspondence (Manitoulin Island), 1851–55, LAC.
THE TORONTO PURCHASE OF 1787
**“I... desired Mr Lines, the Interpreter”: “Alexander Aitken, Surveyor, Govt of Quebec, to John Collins, Deputy Surveyor General, Govt of Quebec, Sept 15, 1788,” in Percy J. Robinson, Toronto during the French Regime, 2nd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1965), 166–68.
“the lower end of the Beach”: Ibid., 166.
“west end of the Highlands”: Ibid., 167.
“Mr Lines settled with”: Ibid., 166.
“prevailed upon to give up”: Ibid., 167.
“They did not look upon a straight line”: Ibid., 167.
“List of Gifts Given to the Mississaugas”: “Memorandum of Bales and Boxes Brought from Cataraque Brought by Mr. Lines to Toronto and Delivered to Colonel Butler,” ibid., 251.
“A plan... has been found in the Survey’r”: “Lord Dorchester to Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, 27 January 1794,” in The Correspondence of Lieut. Governor John Graves Simcoe: With Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada, vol. 2, ed. Ernest A. Cruikshank (Toronto: Toronto Society, 1924), 138.
“Poor Wabikanyn (the Missassague Chief )”: “From Peter Russell to J.G. Simcoe, 28 September 1796,” in The Correspondence of the Honourable Peter Russell: With Allied Documents Relating to His Administration of the Government of Upper Canada during the Official Term of Lieut.-Governor J.G. Simcoe, While on Leave of Absence, vol. 1, eds. Ernest A. Cruikshank and Andrew F. Hunter (Toronto: Ontario Historical Society, 1932), 49–50.
“Children, I have been told that Colonel Johnson”: “Minutes of a Council with the Missassagas, 26 September 1796,” ibid., 45.
“a Chief named Nim-qua-sim”: “From Peter Russell to Robert Prescott, 18 April 1797,” ibid., 165.
“fomenting the jealousy which subsists”: “From the Duke of Portland to Peter Russell, 11 September 1797,” ibid., 277–78.
“I must... impress you with the necessity”: “From the Duke of Portland to Peter Russell, 4 November 1797,” in The Correspondence of the Honourable Peter Russell, vol. 2, ed. Ernest A. Cruikshank (Toronto: Ontario Historical Society, 1935), 3.
“We were exceedingly alarmed on reading”: “From Peter Russell to Robert Prescott, 21 January 1798,” ibid., 68–69.
THE TORONTO PURCHASE CONFIRMATION, 1805
**“Father, Our Brother Capt. Brant sent us”: “From Peter Russell to Robert Prescott, 15 June 1798,” ibid., 187–88.
“I do not think it reasonable that the land”: Enclosed in “From Peter Russell to Robert Prescott, 9 August 1798,” in The Correspondence of the Honourable Peter Russell, vol. 2, ed. Ernest A. Cruikshank (Toronto: Ontario Historical Society, 1935): 233.
“I doubt not but in due time an opportunity”: “From the Duke of Portland to Peter Russell,” ibid., 300.
“All the Chiefs who sold the Land”: “Proceedings of a Meeting with the Mississagues at the River Credit, 31 July 1805,” RG 10: 290, Lieutenant-Governor’s Correspondence, vol. 1, Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Ottawa.
“I hope you will open your ears”: “Minutes of a Meeting with the Mississaugas, 1 August 1805,” RG 10: 294–96, ibid.
“he had shewn the Council their erroneous”: John Mills Jackson, A View of the Political Situation of the Province of Upper Canada (London: Pamphlet Printed for W. Earle, 1809), 17.
THE 2010 TORONTO PURCHASE SPECIFIC CLAIM
**“Why are we having to prove that we”: Garry Sault, interview by Talking Treaties & First Story Toronto, 2015, 43:11.
“We got a $142 million for Toronto”: Carolyn King, interview by Talking Treaties & First Story Toronto, 2015, 37:57.
“We go through five prime ministers”: Darin Wybenga, interview by Talking Treaties & First Story Toronto, 2015, 19:12.
LINKS TO LEARN MORE
The Moccasin Identifier project, https://moccasinidentifier. com (includes educational resources by grade)
Websites of Local Indigenous Nations
- Huron-Wendat Nation
- Mississaugas of the Credit
- Six Nations of the Grand River
- Haudenosaunee Confederacy
- Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre
- Native Canadian Centre of Toronto
- Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford
- Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, M’Chigeeng First Nation, Manitoulin Island
- Musée Huron-Wendat, Wendake, Quebec
Contemporary Indigenous Perspectives on Treaties
Alan Corbiere on the Treaty of Niagara and Anishinaabe treaty making, https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=aGMIyGtyT7E
Haudenosaunee treaty relations and the Two Row Wampum, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTpFqm_lUNo
Mississaugas of the Credit Treaty Lands and Territories, http://mncfn.ca/about-mncfn/treaty-lands-and-territory
Kim Fullerton on Mississaugas of the Credit treaties, https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNaPdoMzcFM
Mississaugas of the Credit on the Toronto Purchase/Treaty 13, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fikKyME0qEs
A Sacred Trust, 2010, by Mississaugas of the Credit, https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFXyPTFsII0
Rick Hill Sr. on the Dish with One Spoon, https://www. youtube.com/watch?v=SiU5uvGXhxA
Doug Williams, Indigenous Voices on Treaties, Government of Ontario, https://www.ontario.ca/page/videos-indigenous- voices-treaties#section-14
Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People, vol. 2, Treaties, https://data2.archives.ca/e/e448/e011188230–02. pdf
Indigenous Peoples, Canadian Settler Colonialism, and Restoring Right Relationship
Asch, Michael, John Borrows, James Tully, eds. Resurgence and Reconciliation: Indigenous Settler Relations and Earth Teachings. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2018.
Borrows, John, and Michael Coyle, eds. The Right Relationship: Reimagining the Implementation of Historical Treaties. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017.
Indigenous Foundations, https://indigenousfoundations.arts. ubc.ca/home
Manuel, Arthur, and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson. Unsettling Canada: A National Wake-Up Call. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2015.
Robinson, Dylan. “Intergenerational Sense, Intergenerational Responsibility.” In Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action in and beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, edited by Keavy Martin, Dylan Robinson, and David Garneau, 43–66. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier Press, 2016.
Simpson, Leanne, ed. Lighting the Eighth Fire: The Liberation, Resurgence, and Protection of Indigenous Nations. Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring, 2008.
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Honoring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Ottawa, 2015. https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp- content/uploads/2021/01/Executive_Summary_English_ Web.pdf.
–––. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/ uploads/2021/01/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf
Yellowhead Institute, https://yellowheadinstitute.org/
Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations, https://www. un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/about-us.html
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), 2007, https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/ unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
Toronto’s Indigenous History and Indigenous Community
Bolduc, Denise, Mnawaate Gordon-Corbiere, Rebeka Tabobondung, and Brian Wright-McLeod, eds. Indigenous Toronto: Stories That Carry This Place. Toronto: Coach House, 2021.
First Story Toronto, https://firststoryblog.wordpress.com/
Johnson, Jon. “The Indigenous Environmental History of Toronto: ‘The Meeting Place.’” Exploring Hidden Landscapes, Native Canadian Centre, https:// indigenouslandstewardshipto.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ the_indigenous_environmental_history_of.pdf
Native Performance Culture and the Rhythm of (Re) Conciliation: Remembering Ourselves in Deep Time, with Lee Maracle and the Digital Dramaturgy Lab_ squared. Streaming Life: Storying the 94, https://youtu.be/ VxEpi0noKLU. A site-specific truth activation on the St. George Campus, University of Toronto.