Why Were the Douglas Treaties Signed and Agreed Upon?

The Douglas Treaties were signed because of the fact that the Aboriginals were deceived by the Canadians into signing it. James Douglas states here that “The section of land marked on the accompanying map north of Mount Douglas, which being within the limits of the Sanitch Country, those Indians came forward with a demand for payment, and finding it impossible, to discover among the numerous claimants, the real owners of the land in question.” In short, Douglas states that the Aboriginals were seeking payment for the land in which he was confused because the Canadians owned the land. Chief David Latasse then stated that the tribes were not aware of the payment and claims that the aboriginals never signed any treaty’s or papers, “We never fought them, yet they took away our property. This land is ours . . . Never, never did the Indians sign away title to their land just for a few blankets.”

In the 4th document it’s finally made clear of the misunderstanding. For the treaties, Douglas used “X’s” that the Chiefs had written for the first nine transactions and once he received the actual text of the treaty he would just attach the X on to represent that the Chiefs ‘signed’ it. This was no scheme surprisingly but a misunderstanding. The aboriginals couldn’t read the English language and the HBC couldn’t speak their tongue and also the Saanich people believed that they were signing a peace treaty since not long before these papers and blankets were being given to them, had their been logging issues and the death of a young one of their tribe. The Aboriginals also misunderstood the X for a Christian cross showing their motivation towards a war free relationship between the two.

But on the other hand this may have been all done to trick the Aboriginals because Joseph McKay stated that the blankets were in fact given as a sign of peace.

One thought on “Why Were the Douglas Treaties Signed and Agreed Upon?

  1. It’s hard to say if the deception was intentional. This really could have been more of a misunderstanding between each party. It seems likely that the Aboriginals had a different understanding of the treaties, they thought it was a peace agreement. Douglas thought it was clear that it was a land treaty.

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