Who Has Treaty Rights?

Guest Commentary by Maqtewekpaqtism
The People's Voice November 3, 2000

Using the Sublimus Deus, 1537; Queen Anne's Order in Council of 9 March 1704 in the matter of Mohegan Indians v. Connecticut; the Royal Proclamation of 1763; and the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948. The law recorded by these is simple, clear and plain:

(a) the natives have sovereign jurisdiction upon yet unceded territory, under the protection of overarching crown sovereignty expressed constitutionally;

(b) the newcomers have sovereign jurisdiction upon ceded territory, also under the protection of the same overarching crown sovereignty expressed constitutionally; and,

(c) the premature encroachment of the newcomers upon the sovereign jurisdiction of the Indians upon yet unceded territory prima facie constitutes "Misprision of Treason" and "Fraud" and, arguably, "Complicity in Genocide," expressed constitutionally.

What lands had been ceded in M’KMÁKIK?

by Bruce Clark

Aboriginal Rights were not lost through "conquest" in the Maritimes, and no treaties specifically ceded lands to the Crown. The wording of some treaties, however, recognized "settlements already made or lawfully to be made" and this seems to indicate that lands actually occupied by settlers were understood to by the Indians to have been ceded. All other lands were to be acquired "lawfully" from the Indians. The only settlements "already made" at the time of the Proclamation of 1763 were Annapolis Royal, Canso, and Halifax.

(from Maliseet & Micmac - First Nations of the Maritimes by Robert M. Leavitt)

Annapolis Royal, Canso, and Halifax... but, these lands had not actually been "ceded" to the British. The M’kmaq had only given the British the "right to occupy" those lands, but by no means had they actually ceded those lands. The British had rights to that land as long as they occupied it. If they leave the land for a period over 10 years, then the right to that land is lost. This is an ancient M’kmaq Law, which they applied to the British. There was never any transfer of ownership or jurisdiction of land.

When and Where did the idea that Canada owns M’kmakik come from? The answer is... 1713, the Treaty of Utrecht, between Britain and France. In this Treaty, France had ceded what they called Acadia, to the British. Wait a minute! How did France acquire Acadia? France never did acquire any lands from the M’kmaq. The M’kmaq had given the French "rights of occupancy" to Port Royal and Louisbourg. French Missionaries were also given rights to occupy lands and build churches through the 1610 Concordat. The Acadians knew very well that the land they occupied was not theirs. When the Acadians learned that France had ceded Acadia to Britain, Acadians wrote to France asking how and why they ceded land which they did not own. They stated that the land was M’kmaq land, and had always been, that they had never acquired any title to the land. France responded by denying that they ceded Acadia. The M’kmaq had also wrote to France asking the same questions, and again, France denied that it had done what it had done. Since 1713, Britain was mistakenly led to believe that they had won title to the land from France.

Britain began to occupy parts of M’kmaq land, and the M’kmaq resisted, making British settlement impossible. Britain soon realized that settlement in what they named Nova Scotia, would be impossible, unless peace be made with the M’kmaq. Britain was being defeated by the M’kmaq, and their very existence in Nova Scotia depended on a Treaties of Peace and Friendship with the M’kmaq. So then began the Covenant Chain of Treaties between the M’kmaq and the British. In these Treaties, the British recognized and respected M’kmaq Sovereignty and Jurisdiction over their Land and People, and the British were given Rights of Occupancy to Annapolis Royal, Canso, and Halifax, as well as Trading Rights.

Without these Treaties, the British would have no Rights in M’kmakik at all. These Treaties never gave the M’kmaq any Rights. M’kmaq were the ones with all the Rights. How could Britain give the M’kmaq something that they already had? The Treaties stated that the British would respect the M’kmaq Peoples Inherent Rights.

M’kmaq People do not have Treaty Rights, Canadians have Treaty Rights.

Many Canadians feel that these Treaties are outdated, and invalid today. Many Canadians do not think the Treaties should be recognized today. What Canadians do not realize is, that to abolish these Treaties, is to abolish all Canadian Treaty Rights in M’km‡kik. Do you really want to destroy these Treaties, along with your Treaty Rights?

So, if you are a fellow M’kmaq, next time someone talks to you about your Treaty Rights, explain to them that you have Inherent Rights, not Treaty Rights.

For questions or comments contact, Maqtewekpaqtism. Send email to: maqtewekpaqtism@mikmaqmail.com


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