Nisga'a Perspective of the Nisga'a Treaty

Essay by LightninggtHigh School, 10th gradeA-, May 2004

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Nisga'a Perspective

After many years of struggle, the Nisga'a succeeded in signing the first modern treaty. The Nisga'a, the Federal, and Provincial governments, negotiated together and completed the Nisga'a treaty, a treaty that involved economic, cultural, and governmental issues. The Nisga'a have gained the rights they deserve after signing the Nisga'a treaty. In Chief Joe Gosnell words, "The treaty is a balanced and sensible reconciliation of issues that have frustrated and divided British Columbia for more than a century.1" Although many Nisga'a are happy to have gained the rights they have fought for, not all Nisga'a agree.

Treaties signed approximately one hundred years ago were very different than they are today. The prairie treaties numbered from 1 to 7 covered issues such as land, agricultural supplies and tools, and annuities; each Aboriginal families of five received 160 acres of land. In later treaties, the aboriginals were wiser and negotiated for 660 acres2.

No treaty at that time considered issues related to culture, language, or self-government like the Nisga'a treaty. While negotiations between the Nisga'a and Provincial and Federal governments extended over many years, on May 11th, 2000, the Nisga'a treaty was signed. "Thank goodness our people didn't sign a treaty back then because they didn't know that a treaty was.3" Joseph Gosnell's opinion specifies that he was glad he understood this treaty completely. "Treaty-making, rather than litigation or confrontation, is the best road to the reconciliation of the prior presence of aboriginal peoples in Canada with the sovereignty of the Crown.4" Nisga'a government and Federal government decision. After long hours of debate, the government has decided a treaty that covers everything is the best way out.

The long struggle for justice and rights began in 1876, when Canada's Parliament passed the Indian Act to regulate most aspects of native...