“The History of Moose Deer Point First Nation“
Where is Home?
The Moose Deer Point First Nation is located on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay, broken up into three parts. The reserve boundaries were set in 1917, though they do not reflect the length of time that this community has lived here, nor the area which the community made use of for hunting, trapping, fishing, and indeed settlements and burials. Ancestors of Moose Deer Point First Nation have been settled in the Georgian Bay area since at least the 1830s, with the original settlement and burial grounds lying outside of the current reserve boundary. We are a Pottawatomi community, with close ties to Anishinaabeg communities around Georgian Bay - and beyond. Many of our ancestors came to this place from the south west shores of Lake Michigan. They had settled in that territory in the 1700s, but had to leave their home lands because of pressure from American settlers taking up Pottawatomi lands, and because of American policy that began forcing Pottawatomi out of their territory.
Although some people say the Pottawatomi territory is “the Chicago area”, the idea of territory shifts a lot. As Pottawatomi, we are the fire keepers of the Three Fires Confederacy. The Ojibwe are the known as the faith keepers, and the Odawa as the trader peoples. When we think of ourselves as Anishinaabeg, or part of the Three Fires Confederacy, our traditional territory is the Great Lakes, and especially Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. We know that our people have always used a wide area of our territory, and beyond. A long time ago, the Anishinaabeg journeyed to “the great salt-water lake” (the Atlantic ocean) to learn about governance. With the guidance of the Seven Fires Prophecy and the Midéwin, we made our way back from the east coast into the Great Lakes area around the 1400s. Like most nations around the work,our territory has shifted over time based on political and economic alliances ,and the health of our communities – but the Great Lakes area is our home.
What are some key events that caused our ancestors to come here?
While the whole history of the Pottawatomi nation and its interactions with other Indigenous nations, as well as European nations, is important, there are a few moments in history that we can look to as key to leading our ancestors to this place.
Royal Proclamation & Treaty of Niagara
In 1763, King George issued the Royal Proclamation, which was a way to make clear that the French were no longer a European government with any control over this territory. It was also a chance for the British Crown to say that certain lands were to be set aside for only the Indigenous peoples to use. This was meant to stop settlers from taking lands from Indigenous peoples. In 1764, thousands of Indigenous leaders met with the representative of the King, Sir William Johnson, at Niagara, a gathering which came to be known as the Treaty of Niagara. This Treaty is one of the foundational settler-Indigenous treaties, and referenced previous treaties made by Indigenous nations with each other, and which they brought Europeans into. This event showed that the British government could engage with Indigenous treaty and diplomacy protocols. This was the moment when Indigenous communities responded to the British government’s assertion of sovereignty, by setting the conditions under which the Indigenous nations would welcome these Europeans to share the lands. The Treaty of Niagara, and especially the Covenant Chain wampum, were frequently referenced after that by government officials in discussions with Indigenous nations. It was meant to reassure the Indigenous peoples that the British would not forget their promises. Unfortunately, ever since then, the way that settlers understand treaty as more of a contract that we move on from than a relationship that is constantly returned to and cared for, means that the promises made over the early treaties have been ignored and broken.