THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION OF 1763

By Graydon Nicholas

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 only confirmed the existence of aboriginal rights, or aboriginal title. It was always there. It is important to assert that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 applies to the Maritime provinces because it recognizes three things:

A Land Base: If land was to be given up it had to be given up voluntarily, and people within the nation would determine whether or not they could do it.

Nationhood: It recognizes this by using the words. “nations and tribes with whom we are connected.” These are the words that they used in 1763, and what was the definition of nationhood back then? They recognized that Indians were their allies, and you don’t talk to someone who is just your friend as if he were an ally.

A Trusteeship: As a trustee, the Crown was obligated to handle the affairs of the Indians in a diligent way. With respect to trade, for instance, before anyone could trade with the Indians they had to approach the Crown first and say, “Can we get a licence to trade with the Indians?”

If the courts Read More
THE ROYAL PROCLAMATION OF 1763

By Graydon Nicholas

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 only confirmed the existence of aboriginal rights, or aboriginal title. It was always there. It is important to assert that the Royal Proclamation of 1763 applies to the Maritime provinces because it recognizes three things:

A Land Base: If land was to be given up it had to be given up voluntarily, and people within the nation would determine whether or not they could do it.

Nationhood: It recognizes this by using the words. “nations and tribes with whom we are connected.” These are the words that they used in 1763, and what was the definition of nationhood back then? They recognized that Indians were their allies, and you don’t talk to someone who is just your friend as if he were an ally.

A Trusteeship: As a trustee, the Crown was obligated to handle the affairs of the Indians in a diligent way. With respect to trade, for instance, before anyone could trade with the Indians they had to approach the Crown first and say, “Can we get a licence to trade with the Indians?”

If the courts were ultimately to hold that the Proclamation does apply, then the whole aboriginal title to the Maritimes is resurrected, and no matter what legislation has ever been passed, it was passed contrary to the intent of the Royal Proclamation of 1763.


- Robert M. Leavitt, Maliseet & Micmac: First Nations of the Maritimes.
Fredericton: New Ireland Press, 1995. p. 216.

© Robert M. Leavitt. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Learners will undersatnd the interpretation given to the Royal Proclamation of 1763 by a native leader.

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