Why were the Numbered Treaties negotiated?
Both First Nations and the Crown had a history of Treaty making prior to first contact. First Nations and Europeans continued the Treaty-making approach with each other in order to secure military and trade alliances through ‘Peace and Friendship’ Treaties during the early colonial period and the fur trade. With the issuing of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 by King George III, official guidelines were established for the acquisition of First Nations land whereby only the Crown could enter into Treaty negotiations with First Nations.
The British Crown then embarked on a series of Treaties with First Nations primarily in Ontario in order to open up areas for settlement, farming and mining. After Confederation in 1867, the Dominion of Canada looked to the North-West Territories to expand and followed the precedent that had been set for Treaty making. Between 1871 and 1921, eleven Numbered Treaties were negotiated between the Crown and First Nations covering the territories from present-day Ontario to Alberta and portions of British Columbia and the Northwest Territories.