The Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Pre-Confederation Treaties
The Royal Proclamation issued by King George III on October 7, 1763 created systems of government in areas previously controlled by France and provided for the protection of First Nation territories by establishing First Nation ‘hunting grounds.’ No European settlement, occupation, or infringement would be permitted in these ‘hunting grounds’ without the consent of the Crown.
The Proclamation recognised First Nation occupation and use of territories not already treated. This document was the first major reason for the Treaties of the Pre-Confederation and Post-Confederation eras in Canada. It also established the ‘Trust Relationship’ between the Crown and First Nations by stating that only the Crown could ‘purchase’ the land from the First Nations.
Several Treaties were entered into after the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and before Confederation in 1867. These include the Upper Canada Treaties, the Robinson Treaties, the Douglas Treaties, and the Peguis-Selkirk Treaty.
The Peguis-Selkirk Treaty was entered into on July 18, 1817 by Chiefs Peguis, Le Sonnant (Mache Whesab, Many Sitting Eagles), Le Premier (Oshki-doowad), L’Homme Noir (Gaayyaazhiyeskibino’aa), La Robe Noir (Makadewikonaye) and Lord Selkirk. Aware of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, Lord Selkirk understood the need to enter into Treaty with the First Nations in order to acquire land to be used by his Scottish settlers. The Treaty established an area next to the rivers in which the settlers were permitted to farm, and it was known to have been enforced by Chief Peguis. The Peguis-Selkirk Treaty is also unique in that the Chiefs entering the Treaty used animal signifiers when signing the document. The Treaty established an ongoing relationship between the First Nations leaders and Lord Selkirk that was to be renewed annually. Although Lord Selkirk passed away only a few years later and never returned, the relationship established by the Treaty has continued into the present.