Understanding First Nations Sovereignty
We are the Anishinaabek, Mushkegowuk, Onkwehonwe, and Lenape Peoples – the Indigenous Peoples located within the artificial borders of Ontario.
As the sovereign Nations of Turtle Island, we possess inherent rights to self-determination.
Our right to self-determination means we have jurisdiction (the right, power and authority) to administer and operate our own political, legal, economic, social and cultural systems.
The recognition of our Nationhood through Treaty making is why the successor state of Canada must work with our Nations on the basis of a government-to-government relationship.
Treaties were made between Nations, establishing how Treaty partners will co-exist, therefore, granting rights and permissions to the settlers and their colonial governments, on areas such as land and resources.
The Spirit and Intent of the made Treaties must be honoured, respected and implemented (practiced) by all Treaty people.
The land is the founding source of our identity and culture. Great responsibilities to protect and preserve the land have been bestowed upon us by the Creator, and are captured in each Nations Laws. Through Treaty our Nations agreed to share the land, therefore, our free, prior and informed consent is required before any development or decisions are made which may impact our inherent and Treaty rights to land.
As sovereign Nations we have never surrendered our rights or title in right of the Crown or the successor state of Canada but, have maintained and solidified their inherency through the Treaty making process.
Prior to contact with the European settlers, our Nations and Peoples – the Anishinaabek, Mushkegowuk, Onkwehonwe, and Lenape – have thrived since time immemorial in what is now known as the province of Ontario on Turtle Island (North America). These Peoples make up 14 Nations: the Mushkegowuk (Cree), Mohawk, Tuscarora, Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga (the Haudenosaunee – Onkwehonwe Peoples), Delaware, Mississauga, Chippewa, Pottawotami, Algonquin, Odawa, and Anishinabe (the Anishinaabek Peoples).Our Nations possess distinct laws and governance systems, language, culture, territories, economic systems, a defined Peoples (citizenship), history and social structures. This is why we are not “Aboriginal” – a term constructed by the Canadian government which does not recognize the distinct rights of First Nations nor the distinct identities of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples.
Source: Understanding First Nations Sovereignty
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