Treaty Elders of Saskatchewan: Our Dream Is That Our Peoples Will One Day Be Clearly Recognized as Nations


84 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55238-043-2
DDC 971.24'00497




Reviewed by David Mardiros

David Mardiros is a lawyer and anthropological consultant in Terrace,
British Columbia.


A number of recent court cases on aboriginal treaty rights have revealed
that the aboriginal and nonaboriginal signatories to treaties had
profoundly different understandings of the nature and content of the
subject matter that was being discussed. The conflict in the East Coast
fishery since the Supreme Court of Canada brought down its decision in
Marshall has shown that the consequences of those profoundly different
viewpoints pose serious problems for the descendants of the two peoples
who were parties to those agreements. As the foreword to this book
points out, it is vital for nonaboriginal people to understand the
perspectives of Native peoples if the legal and political relation
established through treaties is to continue to bind the parties together
and continue to have meaning, and do justice, both in the present and
into the future.

This book discusses aboriginal perspectives on treaties and
treaty-making from the point of view of people whose connection with
events is relatively recent—only one or two generations in the case of
the Natural Resources Transfer Act, which was concluded in 1930. The
elders whose voices are represented in this volume come from a variety
of First Nations throughout Saskatchewan. They present a remarkably
consistent vision of the meaning and content of treaty-making—the
establishment of a framework of understanding that ensures that First
Nations maintain their self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

As the book points out, the interpretation of treaties is a complex
exercise that involves the analysis of disparate sources of information,
among them the written treaty records, the evidence of witnesses to the
events, other contemporary written records, and the oral historical
evidence of the First Nations participants. This book provides useful
insight into one of those perspectives in a direct and compelling way.
While some of the commentary presented by the editors of this volume
sets out their own political agenda, the voices of the elders transcend
much of this with their generosity of spirit and clarity of vision.


Cardinal, Harold, and Walter Hildebrandt., “Treaty Elders of Saskatchewan: Our Dream Is That Our Peoples Will One Day Be Clearly Recognized as Nations,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024,