Numbered Treaties Lesson

The above image can be used on a Jamboard background for students to interact with. Download is available at the bottom of this post.

In this activity, students will work in pairs or groups, each choosing one numbered Treaty and reading about it in Volume 1 of The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), which documents First Nations’ accounts of the Treaties based on oral histories and community research.  They are asked to label the map where the treaty was made with information that answers the following questions: 

  1. Label the treaty on the map where it exists. Include the date.
  2. Why was it made?
  3. What were the promises?
  4. Did anyone agree to giving up land? 

The RCAP accounts document First Nation leaders as strong defenders of their territories, who prohibited settler encroachment, and forced colonial officials into Treaty negotiations. In these histories, First Nation leaders were the protagonists who ensured that treaties were made.

After plotting the Numbered Treaties, and finding the answer to question #4, (that no one agreed to give up land), students are prompted with the blue bubble to Google their treaty to see what colonial officials wrote:

“Google it  5) Find a copy of the original treaty document that the colonial officials wrote on paper after the oral agreements were made.  Find the exact phrase they wrote about what First Nations agreed to do with their land.  How is it different from the RCAP account?” 

They will find the following phrase which contradicts what they read in RCAP:

“do hereby cede, release, surrender and yield up to the Government of Canada for Her Majesty the Queen and Her Successors forever, all their rights, titles and privileges whatsoever to the lands…”  

Students are then asked to engage in thinking about the historical significance of Canada’s failure to acknowledge the oral treaty agreements: 

6) How did Canada’s omission of the oral agreements in its written history shape the society that we are living in today?

7) How might Canadians change their society after learning about the oral treaty promises that enabled them to live and prosper here? 


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