Treaty of Fort Niagara

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The Treaty of Fort Niagara is one of several treaties signed between the British Crown and various indigenous peoples of North America.

Treaty of Niagara (1764)[edit]

The 1764 Treaty of Niagara was agreed to by Sir William Johnson for the Crown and 24 Nations from the Haudenosaunee, Seneca, Wyandot of Detroit, Menominee, Algonquin, Nipissing, Ojibwa, Mississaugas, and others who were part of the Seven Nations of Canada and the Western Lakes Confederacy. The Treaty was concluded on August 1, 1764. The treaty transferred possession of a narrow four mile strip of land by the Niagara River's western shore, as well as established the relationship that was supposed to be honoured by the new settlers moving into what would become Canada. This treaty signaled the assembled Indigenous Nations ratification of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and extended the Silver Covenant Chain of Friendship into the Great Lakes Region of the continent.[1]

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 established the British definition of Indian Country. On these lands the Crown claimed sovereignty but it also decreed that the land was to be considered in the possession of the Indigenous peoples who occupied them. Consequently, in order to transfer ownership of the land to the Crown through the surrendering of the land from the indigenous peoples, Great Britain began formalizing the Treaty of Niagara with the First Nations on July 8, 1764, through this Treaty Council. In protest, the Ottawa of Detroit, the Wyandot of Sandusky, and the Lenape and Shawnee of the Ohio refused to attend the Treaty Council. This treaty created a new Covenant Chain between Britain and the First Nations of the western Great Lakes. During the War of 1812, Nations involved with this treaty allied themselves with the British, as the Nations believed the treaty bound them to the British cause.

The Covenant Chain Wampum presented by Sir William Johnson to the assembled Nations at the conclusion of the Council of Niagara (1764)

Treaty of Fort Niagara (1781)[edit]

The 1781 Treaty of Fort Niagara, also known as Niagara Purchase, was signed by Colonel Guy Johnson for The Crown and representatives of the Ojibwa and Mississaugas Nations concluded on May 9, 1781. The treaty transferred additional lands surrounding Fort Niagara to The Crown.

The 1781 treaty was signed because of the constraints imposed by the 1764 Treaty of Niagara posed several problems due to influx of loyalists into British territory around Fort Niagara during and after the American Revolution. Due to the increased population, Frederick Haldimand, Governor of Quebec proposed the establishment of agricultural settlements around major military forts, but the first treaty did not accommodate for the land needed to sustain agricultural settlements about Fort Niagara. Consequently, the second treaty was negotiated. In this treaty, among the distributed goods were 12 thousand blankets, 23,500 yards of cloth; 5,000 silver ear bobs; 75 dozen razors and 20 gross of jaw harps. The Mississaugas accepted a payment of "300 suits of clothing as payment for a four-mile strip along the Niagara River from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie."

Treaty of Fort Niagara (1787)[edit]

Journals of the Board of Trade and Plantations, Volume 12: January 1764 - December 1767 (1936), pp. 109-120,[2] list only two treaties negotiated at this time:

  • Treaty of Peace, etc., with the Chenussios and other enemy Senecas, concluded by Sir William Johnson, baronet, at Niagara, August 6, 1764.
  • Articles of Peace concluded by Sir William Johnson, baronet, with the Hurons of Detroit, at Niagara, July 18, 1764

More than 2,000 delegates of up to 24 First Nations and others affiliated representative attended this council (the treaty was referred as an "engagement" in the minutes of the council). While the minutes do not specify an exact number, there were least 84 Wampum Belts exchanged during the negotiations. Belts presented by one speaker may also have been returned across the fire to another speaker (a common occurrence at such meetings).[3]

The treaty area ceded in the second treaty was expanded to include Niagara Township, and portions of Stamford, Willoughby and Bertie Townships.

Further reading[edit]

  • New York Colonial Documents, Volume 7, pp. 648–658
  • Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Volume 18.


  1. ^ Tidridge, Nathan. The Queen at the Council Fire: The Treaty of Niagara, Reconciliation and the Dignified Crown in Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2015.
  2. ^ "Journal, November 1764: Volume 71 | British History Online". Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  3. ^ Six Nations Legacy Consortium (July 15, 2014). "1764 Treaty of Fort Niagara Wampum Belts" (PDF). Canadian Crown.

External links[edit]