Some issues of international law and genocide

Craven, Jim jcraven at
Thu Feb 20 17:19:47 MST 2003

Jim Craven wrote:

>>The above illustrates painfully what Indigenous Peoples have to deal
from elements on the left. Treaty 7 did not, even in its own content,
"extinguish the Blackfoot Nation [to be replaced with] a pledge to become
loyal subjects of the Queen. That came much later.

"And the undersigned Blackfeet, Blood, Peigan and Sarcee Head Chiefs and
Minor Chiefs, and Stoney Chiefs and Councillors, on their own behalf and on
behalf of all other Indians inhabiting the Tract within ceded, do hereby
solemnly promise and engage to strictly observe this Treaty, and also to
conduct and behave themselves as good and loyal subjects of Her Majesty the

Jim, you'll just have to help me out here. What am I missing/misreading in
the language above? Is this not a reliable text for Treaty 7? I'm not
interested in debating you, only in understanding how you resolve some of
the problematic aspects of reliance on treaties like this one in making the
case for sovereignty. As far as I'm concerned, you'd be on valid ground in
rejecting treaties that conceded inalienable rights to nationhood in favor
of a genocidal power. In other words, current international law would render
a treaty like this one and the project it was part of invalid. But that is
not what your statement seemed to argue.



Sorry for the impatience. First of all, read our letter carefully: It does
not stipulate that we regard Treaty 7 as binding or that we even signed it,
it says that the government of Canada has built-up (stolen) a whole system
of material interests and "purported" property rights on the assumption of
the treaty having been signed in which case... Our case for sovereignty does
not in any ways rest on this treaty or even the tacit assumptions of a
sovereign and co-equal entity signing it with the government of Canada. We
use that only to show the inherent contradictions and contending assumptions
in the government of Canada's own positions.

Current international law, and venues where it is properly debated and
decided is where we need to get to. The historical realities, past and
present facts on the ground and international law say that Canada and the
U.S. have attempted to refuse to recognize (in order to exterminate whole
nations through summary non-recognition among other means) precisely that
which they assert for themselves--nationhood, sovereignty, independence,
freedom and self-determination--using precisely some of the same tests and
facts on the ground for themselves that apply even more to Blackfoot and
other Indigenous Nations.

Yes I do not regard Treaty 7 as having been signed by Blackfoot. The notes
of Father Scullen, assigned by the Crown to attest to the "X" signatures of
the Chiefs noted that none would touch the pen (the colonists tried to make
the "Xs" and then have the Chiefs "touch the pen" to signify agreement; none
touched the pen according to Scullen and other witnesses.
We fight that fight in Blackfoot Country among other venues.

Further, the principle in Article 27 of the Vienna Treaty dealing with
treating parters explicitly and tacitly assuming each other to be co-equals
(and even tacitly not challenging the mechanisms or institutions through
which the governments of each treating partner were selected) was a
well-established part of International Law before Treaty 7 was supposedly
signed (see Henry Wheaton, "Elements of International Law"). That being the
case, the clause supposedly transferring Blackfoot from members of a
sovereign nation to good little subjects of an in-bred and fucked up
monarchy were illegal even at the time under international law.)

Now that is the best that I can answer you with the time I have available.
When you read treaties, you can slice and dice and lift out or cherry pick
what you will, but they must be read "holistically" with some background
about the history, conditions at the time ad even international law at the
time and subsequent to it. The Canadian government understood that; that is
why in the early 1920s and repeatedly later, they tried to evolve "Indian
Acts" to formerly undertake what you say they had already undertaken with
that cited language in Treaty 7.

This is simply all the time I have to address these specifics. Please read
the supporting documents cited and then get back to me. There are none of
your arguments that we have not heard--and dealt with before and in our
supporting documents.

Thank you for your interest, I have no more time for "debate." Perhaps give
a thought to what cause you might be objectively serving raising these
issues without first having thoroughly investigated the sources I suggested
that deal with these types of arguments. Some of the apparent contradictions
that you are noting are not contradictions when viewed from a wider factual
and legal base and/or are weapons in our hands.


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