Seeing With Two Eyes: Colonial Policy, the Huron Tract Treaty and Changes in the Land in Lambton County, 1780-1867
Travers, Karen Jean
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ABSTRACT This dissertation explores the histories of Walpole Island (Bkejwanong), Sarnia (Aamjiwnaang), and Kettle and Stoney Point (Wiiwkwedong and Aazhoodena) between 1790 and 1867 in what became Lambton County, Ontario. Anishinabe peoples faced tremendous challenges during this crucial period in their histories stemming from the loss of the Ohio Valley, non-native settlement, and intense pressure to surrender the land and settle permanently on reserves. With few exceptions, literature on the subject of Upper Canadian history and Indian policy largely accepts the decline of Anishinabe communities as an inevitable consequence of demilitarization after the War of 1812. The fact that Anishinabe peoples continue to live in these same communities as they have for hundreds of years, complicates such analyses. Through the lens of ‘two-eyed seeing’ I interrogate this contradiction and explore the many ways that the Anishinabeg sought to combine Indigenous knowledge and worldviews with the tools to survive in Eurocanadian economies between 1790 and 1867. While this story is not one of swift decline, I argue that Indigenous leaders sought a future for themselves that differed fundamentally from the one that unfolded in the years before Confederation. This study¬ uses petitions, Indian Affairs and municipal documents to explore the confluence of local processes that undermined Anishinabe attempts to co-exist with Eurocanadians. While it is true that Great Britain no longer needed its ‘Indian allies’ after the War of 1812, this does not sufficiently explain why fellow Loyalists and settlers did not accept Anishinabe peoples as partners in a province that both communities helped establish. While policy is an important part of this process, it is only a part of this story. My focus is on the relationships established between two peoples, and the construction, devolution, and disintegration of these relationships. Plans made by Anishinabe Chiefs to create a self-sufficient and independent future in Upper Canada were gradually undone by a combination of politics, policy, land and economics. These coalesced over the first half of the nineteenth century to radically transform their vision to one that by Confederation, increasingly sought to confine and define ‘Indians’ as legal wards.