Royal Proclamation of 1763

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The Royal Proclamation continued to govern the cession of aboriginal land in British North America, especially Upper Canada and Rupert's Land. The proclamation forms the basis of land claims of aboriginal peoples in Canada – First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. The Royal Proclamation of 1763 is thus mentioned in section 25 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to historian Colin Calloway, "scholars disagree on whether the proclamation recognized or undermined tribal sovereignty".[1] The language of the proclamation made it clear that the British still believed that all native lands ultimately belonged to the Crown. However, the proclamation established the important precedent that the indigenous population had certain rights to the lands they occupied—in the past, by contrast, the Crown had granted lands without regard to native claims.

Some see the Royal Proclamation of 1763 as a “fundamental document” for First Nations land claims and self-government.[2] It is “the first legal recognition by the British Crown of Aboriginal rights.”[3] The intent and promises made to the native in the Proclamation have been argued to be of a temporary nature, only meant to appease the Native peoples who were becoming increasingly resentful of “settler encroachments on their lands”[4] and were capable of becoming a serious threat to British colonial settlement.[5][6] While advising the Board of Trade on August 30, 1764, Sir William Johnson expressed that

The Indians all know we cannot be a Match for them in the midst of an extensive woody Country…from whence I infer that if we are determined to possess Our Posts, Trade & ca securely, it cannot be done for a Century by any other means than that of purchasing the favour of the numerous Indian inhabitants.[7]

With the proclamation, “the British were trying to convince Native people that there was nothing to fear from the colonists, while at the same time trying to increase political and economic power relative to First Nations and other European powers.”[8] However, the Royal Proclamation along with the subsequent Treaty of Niagara, provide for an argument that “discredits the claims of the Crown to exercise sovereignty over First Nations”[9] and affirms Aboriginal “powers of self-determination in, among other things, allocating lands.”[10] Further so, the Royal Proclamation outlined a policy in which to protect and extinguish Aboriginal rights and in doing so, recognized these rights existed.

For the United States

The influence of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 on the coming of the American Revolution has been variously interpreted. Many historians argue that the proclamation ceased to be a major source of tension after 1768, since the aforementioned treaties opened up extensive lands for settlement. Others have argued that colonial resentment of the proclamation contributed to the growing divide between the colonies and the mother country.

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