TREATY OF UTRECHT, SECTION XV
April 11, 1713
For centuries prior to 1713, wars raged almost constantly between France and England - over the eons many peace treaties were negotiated, signed, and broken at will.
True to form, on July 13, 1713, they ratified another, the Treaty of Utrecht. Which, in time, like all previous peace deals between them, would prove to be no more than a respite from war. The war the treaty ended, like most European wars, had been caused by family squabbles among the pampered royal houses of Europe. Religion was also a prime factor, it’s prominently mentioned in the preamble and in several sections.
The treaty also included provisions that were extremely bad news for the Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, and Acadians. Section XII transferred to the British Crown the self-presumed French ownership of Acadia. This event marked the beginning of the end of French power in the Americas.
The clear winners of the peace in this instance were the British, they got almost everything they wanted, including the renunciation of all claims by the Crowns of France and Spain to each other's Thrones. Thus, they forestalled the possibility that the two Catholic Crowns would ever be worn by one person. The French and Spanish Crowns also agreed to recognize that thereafter Great Britain's Crown was restricted to Protestant royalty only. The Spanish, like the French, had to give up several of their prized possessions, including the strategic Rock of Gibraltar.
The main victims of this peace were the First Nations Peoples of the Americas and the Black people of Africa. The tragic destinies of both people were decided by the European Crowns, without an iota of thought being given to their interests. Their rights, as free and independent peoples were being abrogated and First Nations and African lands were also being taken. The Treaty of Utrecht also gave European nations license to forcibly remove Black people from Africa and bring them to the Americas as slaves.
Section XIV of the treaty deals with the rights of French subjects to stay within the ceded colonies and to practise their religion freely, subject to the discriminatory religious laws of Great Britain. It also placed the Eastern Amerindian Nations under British dominion. However, another section makes this presumption confusing. Section XV of the Treaty of Utrecht reads:
“The Subjects of France inhabiting Canada, and others, shall hereafter give no Hinderance or Molestation to the five Nations, or Cantons, of Indians, subject to the Dominion of Great Britain, nor to the other Natives of America, who are Friends to the same. In like manner, the Subjects of Great Britain shall behave themselves peaceably towards the Americans, who are Subjects or Friends to France. And on both sides, they shall enjoy full Liberty of going and coming on account of Trade. Also the Natives of those Countrys shall, with the same Liberty, resort as they please to the British and French Colonys, for promoting Trade on one side and the other, without any Molestation or Hinderance, either on the part of the British Subjects, or of the French. But it is to be exactly and distinctly settled by Commissarys, who are, and who ought to be accounted the Subjects and Friends of Britain, or of France."
Interpretations of the section have ranged from saying that it gives dominion over the Eastern First Nations and their lands to Great Britain, to saying that it identifies some of them as French subjects, to saying that it acknowledges them as independent Nations. If this section was meant to place these Nations under British rule, that intention is not clearly stated. In fact, just the opposite may be inferred, given that the British sought a separate treaty with the Eastern First Nations. If they had thought otherwise, they would have demanded that First Nations ratify Section XIV of the Treaty of Utrecht, rather than entering into separate agreements with them.
In view of the White supremacist attitudes prevailing at the time, the fact that First Nations, including the Mi'kmaq, were left out of the treaty negotiations, not even advised about its signing, should come as no surprise. A letter from Governor T. Caulfield to Vaudreuil, dated May 7, 1714, attests to the fact that the Mi'kmaq had been left in the dark:
"Breach of the treaty of peace and commerce committed by Indians under French government upon a British trading vessel at Beaubassin. Enclosed letter from Pere Felix, giving the Indians' excuse, i.e., that they did not know that the treaty was concluded between the two crowns, or that they were included in it. The Indians come from Richibucto. Enclosed John Adams' account of the goods taken from him. Hopes that satisfaction will be given, and promises to prevent similar outrages on his side."
Finally, in 1715, the Mi'kmaq were enlightened. At a meeting with the Nation's Chiefs, two English officers informed them that France had transferred them and the ownership of their land to Great Britain via the Treaty of Utrecht, and that King George I was now their sovereign. The Mi'kmaq responded in no uncertain terms that they did not come under the Treaty of Utrecht, would not recognize a foreign king in their country, and would not recognize him as having dominion over their land.
At the same meeting the English had the audacity to place before the Chiefs the proposal that they permit British settlement in their villages for the purpose of creating one people. The Mi'kmaq, of course, immediately rejected this monstrous request to submit to extinction by assimilation. The Chiefs then clarified for the English that they had never given over ownership of their land to the French King or considered themselves to be his subjects, and therefore, he had had nothing to transfer. With no agreement, open hostilities between the Mi'kmaq and the English resumed. Thus the die was cast for close to fifty more years of conflict, with occasional periods of uneasy truce.
After they had learned that the French had claimed their land and, unbeknownst to them, attempted to transfer their territories to Great Britain by treaty two years earlier, the Mi'kmaq directed protests to St. Ovide de Brouillant, Louisbourg's military commander in 1715, and Governor after September 1717. He responded with what can be described as lies and doubletalk:
"He [the French King] knew full well that the lands on which he tread, you possess them for all time. The King of France, your Father, never had the intention of taking them from you, but had ceded only his own rights to the British Crown.”
To read about the horrible consequences that European treachery visited upon American Indians Click American Indian Genocide