6 Contact to 1763 – Indigenous Peoples’ Encounters with Europeans A s Europeans began arriving in what is now Canada, they encountered Indigenous peoples and began establishing relationships. Europeans attempted to establish dominance over lands and resources, and their interactions with the original inhabitants became increasingly complex, often leading to misunderstandings. Over time, the structure of their relationships became more formalized through agreements, treaties, laws, and acts that would (and often still do) govern the lives of Indigenous peoples. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is one such document. Following France’s defeat in the Seven Years’ War, King George III declared British control in North America, and established a colonial government where France had surrendered sovereignty. The Proclamation established a framework for Indigenous rights and title to the land, and for negotiating treaties. It sought to earn loyalty by recognizing that lands legally belonged to Indigenous peoples unless a treaty formally gave control to the British. Nevertheless, British and Canadian governments have not lived up to the terms of the Proclamation. For more information and activities on the Royal Proclamation, visit the Treaties in Canada Education Guide on the Historica Canada Education Portal . “First Contact” Case Study: Continuity and Change No singular “first contact” story applies to all Indigenous peoples. Some stories share elements, but Indigenous encounters with Europeans represent a diverse set of experiences across centuries. Working in small groups, choose one of the following Indigenous groups to investigate: Ban Island Inuit ; Beothuk ; Cree ; Gwich’in ; Kainai (Blood); Mi’kmaq ; Neutral ; Nisga’a ; Nuu-chah-nulth ; Siksika (Blackfoot). Research the group’s experience with European contact and colonization using The Canadian Encyclopedia , answering the following: • Date(s) and location(s) of the group’s first contact(s) with Europeans • Description of initial interactions • What was dierent after contact with Europeans? What stayed the same? • What were the most important continuities and changes over time? • What were the immediate consequences, both positive and negative, of contact? (e.g., trade, disease, knowledge exchange, war.) • What form did contact take? Bear in mind that contact might be physical (a meeting) or not (for example, some groups experienced the arrival of Europeans through trade, or disease). • How did the relationship between the Indigenous group and Europeans evolve? The Fur Trade: Primary Source Evidence F rom the early 1600s to the mid-1800s, the fur trade was an important part of the commercial economy in what became Canada. Although dominated by European demand for beaver-felt hats, there was great variety in its operations, involving dierent furs, trading networks, and alliances. The fur trade promoted European exploration and settlement, and established social, economic, and religious relationships — and significant conflicts — between and within Europeans and Indigenous peoples. It was also fiercely competitive, driven by a longstanding commercial and imperial rivalry between Britain and France and their respective colonies. The list of Indigenous groups provided is not comprehensive and students may choose another group. Make sure there is adequate material for research before beginning. Remind your students that there may be more than one instance of “first contact.” Assign students one group to investigate. Create a basic graphic organizer for students to take point form notes on their research. Champlain Trading with the Indians by CW Jereys, 1911 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/C-103059). The Royal Proclamation of 1763 (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/13-26/no. 1386632).