To Be a Treaty Settler

The word treaty can have a couple meanings. For example, I am a Treaty Settler, whereas a First Nations individual would be a Treaty Indian. It wasn’t until a month ago when we started this class did I become aware that I am a Treaty Person. I have heard the term status Indian by many First Nations acquaintances in the past. Until this day, I am not sure if even they knew we are all Treaty People either. Because of the European/Westernized education system and dominating culture, this was never a topic…until now.

 

What has changed since learning that I am also a Treaty person is that I have a responsibility to educate myself on what the agreements are between the two parties. I have learned that treaties are the stone in which Canadian society originated. Despite this being the case, as a white woman of European descent and settler of the Treaty 4 Territory, I have privileged 100% because of the Treaties, whereas the First Nations did not. This is not how it is supposed to be.

 

I would not say that racism is something that I just began to see. I noticed it even as a child. I would hear comments and opinions about First Nations people during family functions. I had gained a perspective based off of other peoples ignorance which in turn lead me to be ignorant as well. I would feel nervous around First Nations people because I would see First Nations people represented in the news as the “dangerous” and “criminals” of the prairies. How ironic it is, because the colonization of this land is what is dangerous and criminal.The truth is, regardless of what someone else preaches or shares, it is up to me as the individual to do the research for myself to find the truth. The truth I am learning is that of the authentic history of how Canada was colonized and what part my ancestors played a role in it. And that I still benefit from it today. It is my responsibility as a treaty person to uphold the treaties made by the Settlers and First Nations people of Canada.  I truly believe that knowing this is the first step in the right direction.

 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “To Be a Treaty Settler

  1. Hi Alicia!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and enlightening us with your blog post. I agree with what you said, “What has changed since learning that I am also a Treaty person is that I have a responsibility to educate myself on what the agreements are between the two parties.”. The first year of University was extremely informative in teaching that all Canadians are in fact treaty people. I was once told by a friend of First Nation decent that Canada’s history is our history and being educated on that is a responsibility of all Canadians. This always stuck with me because she was right, if we are not sure as a people of our past, how greatly will that affect our future? This is a great topic for courageous conversation because “staying engaged” on this topic not only helps to educate but also keeps us from creating and using thought patterns that can be damaging to furthering this topic. Being aware that we are all treaty people is step one.

    I live in Maple Creek which is 30 minutes away from the Nekaneet Cree Nation Reserve. This was an advantage for me because growing up I was aware that I resided on Treaty 4 territory and became aware of the Reservation and some of the Cree culture in my community. However, I never realized that I myself as a white woman was also a treaty person. This goes right back to having to educate ourselves beyond the resources directly in front of us. I would also like to take this time to recommend two readings that were introduced to me last year in some of my classes. Firewater (How Alcohol Is Killing My People—And Yours) by Harold R. Johnson and Clearing the Plain; Disease, Politics of Starvation and The Loss of Aboriginal Life by James William Daschuk. Both books are available at the University of Regina bookstore and I believe are well worth the time to read.

    Expecting discomfort in a conversation like this is inevitable. As soon as we become aware that we are the privileged and advantaged treaty people in today’s society the re-flexed reaction is to shy away and not want to open up a discussion. It goes right back to speaking your truth, there is a fear of being misunderstood and labeled. However, no knowledge can be gained through this fear the discussion must be had to educate, acknowledge, and to simply become aware. With this educated awareness you are able to see how it effects White settler treaty people and the First Nations treaty people in life everyday. I reiterate back to my previous comment about living in Maple Creek, I myself have noticed the racist tendencies, prejudices and the flat out discrimination from the white community against the First Nations community. Many times I notice that people believe that their opinion is so worthy that it’s on level with informed knowledge. As you can imagine, the discussion turns into an argument fast when there is a need to defend yourself from either being racially attacked or being labeled a racist.

    Which ends with our final agreement of courageous conversation, expect a lack of closure. How will we ever get closure with a topic when the problem is still alive and thriving in the real world. Treaty education and racism will be an ongoing issue until we can educate society better and make big changes. Like you said Alicia the first step starts here. I can readily accept there is no common cure for racism but what I can’t accept is there is nothing I can do to help. We can educate our families, friends, co workers. We can open up courageous conversations with them utilizing the four agreements. We can continue to research and learn and at the end of the day, the most important thing to me. We can treat everyone we encounter with respect. Its the little changes that force the big changes to happen.

    Thanks again for your post and letting me add my thoughts to the discussion.
    Kelly Genert.

    Like

  2. Hi Alicia! Well written. Your insight on this issue is interesting and important. I also did not know how much I was directly affected by the treaties until I reached university as I attended school elsewhere for the majority of my education. It was very courageous for you to recognize some of these things, and even more so to say them. It truly seems you want to have a positive impact on our generation and the generations in the future, and I admire and commend you for that. I challenge you to read the treaties and supporting documents if you haven’t already as they are the legally binding documents we must abide by in the flesh as originally signed. I learned a lot and a lot has changed in my life and my actions after reading them, and I think everyone would benefit by reading the documents in full. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future!

    All the best,

    Aiden

    Like

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Aiden. Because of this class, I have learned for the first time that I am a treaty person and like you said, we have not just an obligation, but we should be honoured that we get to take part in the treaties and to uphold our end of the agreements made by our settler ancestors.

      Like

  3. I can totally relate to being surrounded by people who have negative views on First Nations people. My family has never been like that, but my family has people come over a lot and we end up with all kinds of people in our house. From a young age, I’ve heard lots of people talk about how First Nations people have so many issues. People would criticize as if they’re all the same and hopeless. I think these people only educated themselves about things that fueled their prejudice beliefs. Which connects to what you’re saying about doing the research and figuring out the truth for yourself. I truly respect that!

    Like

  4. Esther, you make a good point when you said that people make negative criticisms because they are fuelled by a lack of knowledge. Granted, even I have been guilty of this. But it is so important to learn from the ones we hear being criticized or we are criticizing. I feel like the best way to learn about something is to learn it from the source. I remember taking an Indigenous Studies class and we were reading a book about Indigenous people; so I asked my prof. am I learning about it from a white mans perspective, or the perspective of someone actually living it themselves. I truly believe we can’t deeply understand something we have not experienced ourselves. That doesn’t mean we can empathize, though! Thanks for your comment. 🙂

    Like

Comments are closed.