Spirit and Intent
refers to the sacredness of the treaties, which was not recorded in written form. Relying on the written word alone is not sufficient because of the oral history component that is the First Nations peoples’ perspective.
What does that even mean?
When I see this on the curriculum document I still feel somewhat insecure about my understanding of the ‘spirit and intent’ of treaties. Gradually, my educational journey has been chipping away at this topic, unveiling what it actually means to me.
Both the Crown and the First Nations peoples intended to benefit from treaties and to be respectful of each other’s way of life. The Crown and First Nations peoples sealed the agreements before the Creator, which formed the relationship.
Here is where my understanding lies at this moment.
The Aboriginal peoples, before the newcomers arrived, made many treaties with each other. These treaty agreements were very spiritual, sacred and made without need of writing them down. There was a common understanding that these were living agreements and benefited all parties for all of eternity. Everyone abode by them.
After the newcomers arrived and felt the need to make these treaties in order to benefit their own lives… they naively made these ‘sharing’ agreements with a much different understanding and intent than the First Nations peoples. The First Nations assumed that they were consenting living spiritual agreements lasting as long as the sun shines, the river flows and the grass grows. Whereas the newcomers didn’t value this promise near as heavily as it was simply a means to dominate and take over.
HENCE the issues that we are facing today.
The terms agreed to, both written and spoken, would have a continual fulfillment without obstructions – this is why treaties are “living documents”.
The Two-Row Wampum helps to symbolize the spirit, intent and understanding that the First Nations peoples had during the treaty making process. It offers a symbol of sharing and living alongside one another without interference. It offers a symbol that my white ancestry clearly ignored and refused.
Well there you go, you know where I stand at this point.