The Royal Proclamation of 1763 was issued by King George III and is a document that set out guidelines for European settlement of Aboriginal territories in parts of North America. The Royal Proclamation was clear that lands did not become available for settlement – known as public lands – until after a treaty with Aboriginal inhabitants.
The Robinson-Huron Treaty was signed on September 9, 1850 on Whitefish Island in Baawating (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario). Lake Huron Anishinabek leaders, Chiefs and Principle Men entered into treaty with the Honourable William Benjamin Robinson on behalf of her majesty the Queen (the British Crown). The Huron-Robinson Treaty consists of 21 First Nations along the North Shore of Lake Huron.
Treaties are the foundation of this country. They are recognized and affirmed in the Canadian Constitution, so they are part of the supreme law of the land. Because all citizens benefit from the Treaty, it is important for all citizens to know about the Robinson-Huron Treaty and its principles, intentions and content, both in the written and oral context.
Through the Treaty, the Lake Huron Chiefs and leaders of the Anishinabek signatory First Nations intended to protect the territory and establish relations. Contrary to what many Canadians believe, nothing has been given to our First Nations. In fact, it was our First Nations who agreed to share our resources with the newcomers, now Canadians.
The Robinson-Huron Treaty intended to provide economic benefits for the First Nations parties to the Treaty in perpetuity. Significant wealth has been and continues to be generated from resource development within the Treaty territory.
EXCLUSIVE LAND USE
The treaty guaranteed that each community would continue to occupy unceded lands for their exclusive use, lands suitable for their people, including future generations, to live as they always had. In other words, the governance and economies of the First Nations was to be maintained unaffected by the settlement of Europeans around them.
HUNTING & FISHING RIGHTS
Traditional harvesting rights were guaranteed. All Anishinabe members of the treaty were to have unrestricted access to hunt and fish as they always had throughout their traditional territories.
To compensate for the sharing of land and resources due to European settlement and to share in the wealth created within First Nation territories, a perpetual annuity was guaranteed as an annual payment to the beneficiaries. An escalator provision was included in the Treaty to anticipate annuity increases when resource revenues increased.