- Describe Jacques Cartier’s three trips to Canada.
Answer: On Cartier’s first visit in 1534, he presumed he had “discovered” Canada. To that effect, he erected crosses of possession at Gaspé and Stadakohna. Cartier brought Chief Donnakoh-Noh’s two sons back to France and intended to train them as interpreters. They were brought back to Canada on Cartier’s second trip in 1535–6. During that trip Cartier travelled in areas the Stadakohnans did not want him to travel to. Following that rejection of Indigenous territorial control, Cartier kidnapped Donnakoh-Noh and his sons as well as other headmen and took them all to France with him where they all died. On his final voyage in 1541, Cartier brought settlers with the intention of building a colony for Lieutenant-General Jean-François de La Rocque de Roberval. By that time, relations with the Stadakohnan people were strained, even hostile. This first attempt to create a colony for France was not very successful and lasted less than two years.
- Describe the early trading relationships between the Mi’kmaq and Europeans.
Answer: Initial relationships were based on fisheries, which is what attracted the Europeans. Mi’kmaq and their relatives, the Maliseet, at first engaged in servicing Europeans with goods such as marine mammals, and worked to clean and butcher whales for very little pay. This was followed by a transition to the fur trade. Soon, the Mi’kmaq were sailing European boats called shallops. They also continued acting as middlemen between northern hunters and southern agriculturalists. This is how they came to be known as “Taranteens” or “traders.”
- Briefly explain how the Treaty of Utrecht was considered a betrayal by First Peoples.
Answer: Historically, the French policy towards Indigenous Peoples was peaceful in nature, aimed mostly at developing alliances and helpful relationships. This was achieved through various gifts, intermarriages and promotions. Although the French considered their presence to be the same as “owning” the lands they occupied, this was not the view of the Indigenous Peoples. Their perspective was that they only allowed the French to share and use their lands by permission. The French signed the Treaty of Utrecht and handed their claim to Acadia to the British without consulting with the First Peoples who lived there. This was seen as a breach of Indigenous sovereignty.
- Discuss the concept of Indigenous rights to land. Refer to and consider the following three questions: i) what were Indigenous concepts of land rights? ii) how do we know Indigenous Peoples had a clear understanding of their rights to these lands? iii) what was the nature of Indigenous efforts in defending these land rights?
Answer: Indigenous land rights were conceptualized more in terms of the right to use land and control its usage, rather than as outright ownership. In this way, Indigenous concepts of rights to the land and its resources was closely connected to the responsibility to care for those resources. Thus, territoriality referred to communal land rights and conservation, an example being the practice of leaving the supply depots and food caches of others untouched. In extreme cases, one could take a meal’s worth of food from an absent owner but the person in need was expected to leave a gift for that privilege.
Indigenous Peoples clearly recognized their territorial rights to land. For example, Atecouando, of the Odanak, expressly forbid the English from exercising any authority over Indigenous lands or resources without permission. It was clear that Mi’kmaq and Wuastukwiuk peoples also saw themselves, in regards to Europeans, as friends and allies only; on occasion, they were known to have reminded the French that they had only granted the use of their lands and that it still belonged to them. Even though Champlain had sealed a pact of friendship with the Innu in 1603, which allowed the French to establish themselves on Innu territory, it did not involve land title. Instead, the Innu motive for establishing this relationship with the French was to be able to exploit the advantage of having Tadoussac within their territory because it was ideally situated at the mouth of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence River, making it an outlet for the interior trading networks.
Further, once George I had been declared King of Acadia, the English sought an oath of loyalty and permission to set up truck houses on Indigenous lands, but the Mi’kmaq felt trade could continue from shipboards instead. Earlier French establishments had not been seen as problematic to Indigenous nations because the French population was small; also, since the French depended on their allies, they were careful to treat them with respect.
Indigenous groups were willing to go to war to protect their lands from European encroachment. King Philips War in 1675–6, represents a major push to expel Europeans from New England. In 1721, the Wabanaki also declared their sovereignty over their territories and delivered an ultimatum to the governor of Massachusetts, saying that there was to be no further intrusion on their lands. This began the three-year English–Indian war, which ended with Treaty of Boston in 1725.