THE COLONIAL ERA. Chapter 5. COLONIAL PRECEDENTS. Eastern North America French/English wars (Seven Years War) ended in NA in 1759 British/US claim for control until 1846 British claim – Royal Proclamation 1763 included policies for dealing with First Nations
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In 1910 Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier toured BC on an election campaign and held meetings with Aboriginal delegations in Kamloops, Victoria, Metlakatla, and Prince Rupert. The Laurier Memorial is a rare historical document expressing a First Nations point of view of the historical events of colonization. Although written in English, the language reflects Secwepemc oral style. In 1987, the Secwepemc Chiefs reaffirmed the Laurier Memorial. It has since been used as evidence in a number of court cases.
Read the excerpt on page 82.
What inherent Aboriginal beliefs and assumptions are implicit in this document? (3)
On 25 August 1910 First Nations chiefs signed a proclamation to the prime minister of Canada, Sir Wilfred Laurier, demanding that their land rights be settled. They included, from left: Kamloops Chief Louis; Bonaparte Chief Basil David; and Douglas Lake Chief John Chelahitsa (right).
To pre-empt land (known elsewhere as homesteading) was the main form of land settlement by immigrants in North America. In Canada, British subjects were given 160 acres of land free, as long as they cleared the land and started farming on it. During the Douglas administration, First Nations people were encouraged to pre-empt land, but after Douglas left, the laws were changed to forbid them from pre-empting. (87)
Original Documents (87)
Instructions to Governor Douglas
The colonial office’s letter of instructions to James Douglas clearly acknowledges that the First Nations were considered to be the rightful possessors of the land. However, the British only regarded land that was cultivated or that had permanent buildings standing on it to be owned by First Nations people. They had no understanding of the complex systems of land use and ownership that had existed for thousands of years.
With respect to the rights of the natives, you will have to confer with the chief of the tribes on that subject, and in your negotiations with them you are to consider the natives as the rightful possessors of such lands only as they are occupied by cultivation, or had houses built on, at the time when the Island came under the undivided sovereignty of Great Britain in 1846. All other land is to be regarded as waste, and applicable to the purposes of colonization… The right of fishing and hunting will be continued to [the natives], and when their lands are registered, and they conform to the same conditions with which other settlers are required to comply, they will enjoy the same rights and privileges.