Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Screwing Over The Locals

A map of the Toronto Purchase
It was the Seneca, one of the nations in the Haudenosaunee Conferation (the Europeans called them Iroquois) who were here in the 1600s, when the first Europeans started to visit this land. They'd established a village at the mouth of the Don and another on a bend of the Humber, where Baby Point is now. They were recent arrivals though, having just pushed the Wyandot—weakened by war and European diseases—north and taken over. And by the time the British showed up in the late 1700s, the Seneca had been driven out by the Mississaugas. And so it was with them that the British government negotiated the official purchase of the land our city is built on.

The Empire wanted everything from Etobicoke Creek in the west to Ashbridges Bay in the east, stretching north from the lake for 28 miles. In return, they were willing to pay £1700, hand over some supplies and make sure the Natives never really understood what was happening. As Chief Bryan LaForme put it a few months ago, when the Canadian government paid the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation $145 million in an attempt to make up for it, “They knew they were trying to screw us and they didn’t hesitate to do it.”

The exact details of the Toronto Purchase seem to vary slightly from one source to the other, but here is pretty much the exact list of the stuff Toronto was "bought" for:

6 bales of heavy cloth
4 bales of rough coats
196 hoes
8 half-barrels of gunpowder
5 boxes of guns
3 cases of shot
10 kegs of ball
24 brass kettles
4 pieces of broadcloth
5 pieces of embossed serge
200 pounds of tobacco
47 "carrots" of tobacco
432 knives
120 looking-glasses
4 trunks of linen
18 pieces of garter
30 pieces of ribbon
60 plain hats
24 lace hats
2000 gun flints
432 fish hooks
10 pieces of flowered flannel
160 blankets
1 case of barleycorn beads
96 gallons of rum

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Adam!

    The whole treaty thing in Canada is so frustrating because Canadians in general do not understand that it wasn't an outright 'purchase' and surrender of land. There was just such a different world-view between the Mississauga and the British crown (and then the Canadian government) -- the Mississauga (and all other First Nations who signed treaties) were agreeing to share the land and the 'payment' was just honouring the tradition of exchanging gifts. The government has taken full advantage of this discrepancy in world-views for centuries.