Grade Eight Thematic Unit: Compare and contrast foreign treaties with First Nations

Subject: Social Studies

Topic: Compare and contrast foreign treaties with First Nations

Time Frame: 60 Minutes

Objectives: Students will be able to compare and contrast their foreign treaty with that of the spirit and intent of treaty 4 or 6. Students will begin to understand that First Nations had little choice but to surrender their lands and sign treaties.

Methodology: Small group discussions to compare and contrast, Teacher instruction.


  • Spirit and Intent of treaty 4 or 6 prairie provinces
  • Teacher’s notes
  • Compare and contrast sheet
  • Brainstorm page from previous day

Space Requirements: Classroom

Background Information: This is the third of three lessons in which students are asked to look at the concept of treaties between two nations. Students are asked to write down what they would like to see in their treaty with the foreigners. In this lesson they will be comparing and contrasting what their demands are and compare those to treaty 4 or 6. Students can reminisce about how they played their roles when they thought that foreigners were taking over the world. The concepts contained in the Numbered Indian Treaties are no different. Colonization took place in all parts of the world. It is only recently (last ten years) in South Africa that apartheid was ended and Aboriginal South Africans have rights in their own country. Colonization can be compared to that of a foreign invasion, as when one civilization tries to impose their beliefs and their ideals through war, death and germ warfare. Colonization of the prairies was done by the extermination of the Plains Indian’s main source of food which was the buffalo. All the buffalo were killed to make way for railway and cattle.


  1. Have students review the handout on the Indian act and treaties. Read this out loud in the classroom as a group and then discuss some of the points that were made. Have students write down jot notes on the handout. (10 Minutes). Have students look at the spirit and intent section of the handout. These treaties were made in the late 1800s by people thought to be ignorant and illiterate; rather they made these treaties with the best intentions and to make them last “as long as the rivers flow, the grass grows and the sun shines”. Write the previous phrase on the board and ask students to interpret its meaning. (5 Minutes).
  2. Divide students back into their previous groups and give them their treaties that they wrote with the foreigners. Ask them to compare and contrast their treaty with the treaty 4 & 6. (Optional: provide students with the actual writing of the treaty, this can be obtained at The Saskatchewan Office of the Treaty Commission at Invite students to think about how the treaty in the 1890s relates to their own treaty with foreigners. Provide students with the opportunity to compare and contrast their foreign treaty with the numbered treaty. (25 Minutes).
  3. Ask students to come back from their small groups and present their findings regarding the comparison and contrast of the two treaties. Identify the spirit and intent of the foreign treaty; for example, the students may have asked the foreigners to have their own food, which would be similar to that of the treaties with First Nations which asked for the right to hunt, fish, and gather their own food sources.

Evaluation: Group evaluation and compare and contrast worksheet.


The Indian Act

The Indian Act was a method of control and subservience of Status Indians. Prior to 1960, status Indians were not able to vote in elections or even leave their reserves without passes, only issued by the Indian Agent. They did not have to serve in wars but Status Indians enlisted in the military; they were outstanding warriors; yet only recently have they been recognized for their contributions in the 1st and 2nd World Wars. The Indian Act [Section 114] denied Status Indians the rights and privileges to practice their own religions. The blatant enforcement of Christianity to the Indigenous people established a precedent within North America. The most oppressive sections were amended by the 1950 amendment to the Indian Act. The ceremonies and rituals of Indigenous people have been affected by the Christian belief system; there has been a combination of Christian beliefs with those of First Nations. Children were forced through legal legislation of the Indian Act to attend residential schools, where even their native names were changed to that of the Euro-Canadians. They were taken as young children from their parents and subjected to colonial Christian attitudes which promoted assimilation within Canada’s mainstream society. This attitude dominated as the Euro-Canadian society adopted policies that would ensure the successful implementation of Christianity within the Aboriginal masses.

Treaty Rights

Treaties are both symbolic and legal entities. They represent the special relationship with the Crown and the rights, benefits and guarantees secured for future generations. The forefathers obtained these rights through the forced surrender of territorial lands. Treaty rights contain specific stipulations and concessions in exchange for land. When political parties and organizations ask that all people be treated the same, they are not recognizing the specific and inherent rights that were guaranteed by the treaties. They are speaking out of ignorance. It is only through education about the treaties that one can understand what was meant by these legal entities.

The Western Treaties were thus more than a contractual undertaking by the Crown to grant certain payments, rights and benefits to the Indian people, for all time, in return for concession of the tribal land and Indian commitment to keep peace and obey the laws of the land. Beyond these specific terms, the treaties were an affirmation of Tribal and Band integrity and recognition of the right of Indian people to manage their affairs on their own lands in accordance with custom and tradition. While disruption of the plains environment in the 1870s was of catastrophic proportions for the Indians and forced the necessity of sweeping adoptive change, nothing in the statements of Treaty Commissioners to Chiefs and Headmen suggested the rapid implementation of a program of directed cultural genocide and forced assimilation into the enveloping Canadian society. Saskatchewan Indian Spring 1975

Spirit and Intent of Treaty 4 & 6

1. The right to hunt, fish, and gather on all Crown lands.

2. Medicine Chest: best medical attention at that time comparable to best medical care possible.

3. Education: School on every reserve or comparable to the best possible education at this time post-secondary and beyond.

4. Annuities for Chief and Headmen and all Band Members, this was $25 for Chief and $10 for headmen and $5 for Band members.

5. Farming implements and livestock to earn a living.

6. Exemption from wars and fighting wars.

7. Exemption from taxes.


Name _______________

Date ________________

Compare and contrast the treaty you wrote with the foreigners to the information on the spirit and intent of treaties 4 & 6. What are the similarities and the differences?

compare and contrast