Methods of Colonization - Treaties


Indigenous treaties in Canada are recognized agreements between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples. Treaty agreements continue to support Indigenous Peoples rights and sovereignty. Treaties are outlined in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act of 1932 and UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). Historical treaties outlining outlining Crown access and jurisdiction over traditional territories were made with the people of the specific First Nation Territories; the more modern treaties known as land claim agreements apply to all Indigenous Peoples in Canada. 

Elements of Treaties 

There are four elements that are part of most treaties: government to government relationship, lands set aside for the Indigenous People, hunting and fishing rights, and treaty annuities. 

  • An example of government to government relationships in a treaty can be seen in the Two Row Wampum Treaty established in 1613 between the Haudenosaunee representatives and the Dutch Government in the area now known as upstate New York (Keefer, 2014).The Two Row Wampum included three principles relating to government to government relationships, which are represented by the parallel lines on this Wampum. The first is a friendship with mutual respect as neither nation would cross each other. The second was that they could live amongst one another in peace. The last component is that this treaty would be eternal (Two row wampum – gä•sweñta', 2021).
  • The treaties were meant to set aside lands of Indigenous Peoples. However, these lands were often small parcels and not lands chosen by Indigneous peoples.  
  • Under some treaties members of the community were allowed to hunt, fish and gather according to their traditions without restrictions. 
  • Treaty Annuities: Each member of an Indigenous community was to be paid an amount of money to offset living expenses. An example would the Robinson Huron treaty stated a set payment for each of the Anishinaabe signatories to be given approximately $1.60-$1.70/person. The annuity amount inflamed to $4/person by 1875 and has not changed since then (Fritzler, Jones, & Eggerman, 2021).


Fritzler, A., Jones, S., & Eggerman, S. (2021, November 17). Indigenous perspective on treaty adopted by Ontario Court of Appeal - MLT Aikins - western Canada's law firm. MLT Aikins 

Two row wampum – gä•sweñta'. (2021, January 27). Onondaga Nation. 

Keefer , T. (2014, March 10). A short introduction to the two row wampum. Briarpatch Magazine.