In the 18th century the Indigenous peoples of the James Bay region shared land near the coast, a few resources, and furs from a vast hinterland with European newcomers. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 excluded Rupert’s Land – an appropriate decision for it was quite distinct from lands in the south where settlers were acquiring Indigenous land on the fee simple real estate model. What were the James Bay indigenous people’s conditions for sharing their land? It was arguably their principles, and not King George’s edict, that characterized the year 1763 at Moose Fort (Moose Factory). This paper draws on Hudson’s Bay Co. records to examine what was being shared with the newcomers in this northern region. Unlike in the southern regions, the newcomers had no intention of displacing Indigenous peoples. A modest sharing of land and a generous sharing of food and fur resources, on terms congenial to its first inhabitants, characterizes 1763 in this northern region.
Au XVIIIe siècle, les peuples autochtones de la région de la baie James ont partagé leur territoire côtier, leurs ressources et leurs fourrures avec les nouveaux arrivants européens. La proclamation royale de 1763 avait exclu la Terre de Rupert – une bonne décision car celle-ci était bien distincte des terres au Sud où les colons acquéraient des terrains autochtones selon le modèle immobilier en fief simple. Quelles étaient les conditions selon lesquelles les peuples autochtones de la baie James partageaient leurs terres? C’était possiblement leurs principes, et non les décrets du roi George, qui ont défini l’an 1763 à Fort Moose (Moose Factory). Nous utiliserons les archives de la Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson pour examiner ce qui était partagé avec les nouveaux arrivants dans cette région du Nord, qui, contrairement à leurs homologues du Sud, n’avaient pas l’intention de déplacer les peuples autochtones. Un partage raisonnable de terres et un partage généreux de nourriture et de ressources – dans des conditions affables aux premiers habitants – a marqué cette région du Nord en 1763.
Acknowledgements (written by John Long): “I wrote an earlier version of this paper for a community teach-in on the Royal Proclamation at Canadore College on 12 December 2013, which was inspired by Dick Preston who observed following a 1990 Mushkegowuk treaty research meeting that ‘the James Bay Cree understood the specific events of the treaty making situations of 1905 and 1930 in terms of the cultural history that they brought to that situation.’ I am also grateful to the late anthropologist Krystyna Sieciechowicz; when I told her, in 2004, that I found the widespread notion that ‘We agreed to share the land’ jarringly at odds with how the Treaty No. 9 commissioners explained its purpose, she seemed amused and immediately replied that 1905 was not much different from 1805 or 1705.”
Professor emeritus at Nipissing University, the late Dr. John Long’s years as a teacher took him north to Moose Factory where he taught from 1972 to 2000. It was there that got to know and document the history of the Mushkegowuk Cree of western James Bay. His publications include the award-winning book, Treaty No. 9 - Making the Agreement to Share the Land in Far Northern Ontario in 1905 (2010) and Together We Survive: Ethnographic Intuitions, Friendships, and Conversations (2016), which he co-edited with Jennifer S.H. Brown. John died on 2 March 2016.”
Dr. Richard J. “Dick” Preston is Professor emeritus (1996-) of Anthropology, McMaster University. His fifty-four-year career focus has been on cultural-psychological transformations of the Crees of the James Bay region. His book, Cree Narrative: Expressing the Personal Meaning of Events, is in second edition, and he has authored over 100 papers.
Dr. Katrina Srigley is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Nipissing University. She is the author of the award-winning monograph Breadwinning Daughters: Young Working-Women in a Depression Era City (University of Toronto, 2010). Her Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada-funded projects, developed in partnership with Nipissing First Nation, examine the history of Nbisiing Anishinaabeg (Nipissing First Nation) through Anishinaabeg ways of knowing, recording, and sharing the past. Dr. Srigley is currently co-authoring a book with Glenna Beaucage (Cultural Planning Coordinator, Nipissing First Nation) titled Gaa-Bi Kidwaad Maa Nbisiing/The Story of Nipissing.
Lorraine Sutherland is from Attawapiskat First Nation. She holds an M.A. in History from Nipissing University and works as the Regional Assessment Lead for Mushkegowuk Council. She has worked in education for twenty years as a teaching assistant, classroom and special education teacher, counselor, and part-time lecturer in the Aboriginal Summer Programs at Nipissing University. Lorraine’s learning and teaching experiences have taught her to re-examine, re-think and re-work curriculum to include and support Ininiw (Cree) ways of knowing and doing. Lorraine plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Education using Tipaachimowin (Storytelling) as a method for sharing and understanding student knowledge.