Treaty of Niagara Wampum Belt | Image source: parrhesiasite.wordpress.com
Lynn Gehl’s inspiring account of the Algonquin land claims process is useful for settler allies like myself, but also for First Nations people who are not closely aware of Algonquin affairs and the land claims process.
Gehl’s book is personal and meaningful for two reasons. Firstly, she has written a truth that is rooted in both her heart and mind, Debwewin Journey as she has termed it, which she explains is an ancient Indigenous way of coming to know. Secondly, she devotes major attention to the land claims process with the Canadian governments that has led to a poor territorial and financial settlement offer for the Algonquin.
Gehl argues the 1763 Royal Proclamation imposed British control over land they did not own rather than protect Indigenous rights as has been credited elsewhere. In this work Gehl places greater importance on the 1764 Treaty of Niagara which included the participation of Indigenous Nations and the ratification of the terms of the Proclamation through the inclusion of wampum diplomacy and three wampum belts. This later process, she argues, assured treaty making on a nation-to-nation bases where Indigenous land and water rights were protected and guaranteed. Despite this foundational peace agreement at Niagara three centuries of colonial government, deception, and paternalism have erased this understanding and has led to a settlement that she has clearly rejected.
Read the book. One will readily comprehend the colonial injustice for herself and the larger Algonquin Nation. It is five chapters and 151 pages complete with a references and an index.
The Truth That Wampum Tells is available with Fernwood Publishing.