Vancouver Island treaties

Date:
1850-1854
Record:
MS-0772

Between 1850 and 1854, Vancouver Island governor James Douglas negotiated 14 treaties with local First Nations, the only formal land title agreements made between First Nations and settler communities during the colonial era.

The list of the signatories represents one of the earliest efforts to record in detail the nature and composition of First Nations societies on the West Coast of North America. It includes communities from ethnological groups we now know as Coast Salish and Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw.

The treaties consist of 14 documents, contained in a single book and two separate files. The former is a standard register book, of the type the Hudson’s Bay Company used for recording business transactions. Douglas wrote 11 of the treaties into this register, one for each of the self-styled “tribes” with whom he made agreements. The other three treaties were written on separate sheets of paper, and have been preserved in a separate folder. Because Douglas used a template, the main body of the text is virtually the same among all the treaties.

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