The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7


408 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1522-4
DDC 971'.00497




Edited by Walter Hildebrandt, Dorothy First Rider, and Sarah Carter
Reviewed by David Mardiros

David Mardiros is an anthropological consultant in Kars, Ontario.


This book describes a particular historical situation that illustrates
the gulf that often exists between Native and Euro-Canadian perspectives
on the process and content of treatymaking. Divided into several parts,
the book consists of a wide-ranging discussion on the treaty process as
it applies to the region of southern Alberta and a small part of western
Saskatchewan—the area covered by Treaty 7 (an agreement signed by the
Canadian government and a number of aboriginal nations in 1877).

Part 1 consists of a body of oral-historical evidence from Native
elders who were signatories to the treaty. Part 2 contains a summary of
the documentary evidence surrounding the signing of the treaty and an
analysis of academic writings dealing with the treaty process generally
and with Treaty 7 specifically. Both parts provide a useful body of
historical and cultural context that graphically illustrates the very
different perspectives of the two sides. The analysis that follows
raises serious doubts that, because of these different perspectives,
there was an effective meeting of minds. The book argues, in fact, that
unlike the government negotiators, the Native signatories did not intend
the treaty to be a surrender of their legal rights to the land and

Disputes over the intent and content of a number of treaties between
Canadian governments and the land’s First Nations continue to form a
significant impediment to the development of a harmonious relationship
between Native peoples and the larger Canadian society. This book
discusses some of the factors, assumptions, and perspectives that
prevented the parties to Treaty 7 from developing a mutual understanding
of their needs and interests. It also provides salient reading for those
concerned with the process of negotiating modern treaties or the
litigating of Native claims based on treaty entitlements.


“The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed November 29, 2023,