Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty
Release Date:13 Mar 2013
Release Date:13 Mar 2013
Release Date:13 Mar 2013

Breathing Life into the Stone Fort Treaty

An Anishnabe Understanding of Treaty One

By Aimée Craft; Foreword by John Borrows
UBC Press, Purich Publishing
In order to interpret and implement a treaty between the Crown and Canada’s First Nations, we must look to its spirit and intent, and consider what was contemplated by the parties at the time the treaty was negotiated, argues Aimée Craft. Using a detailed analysis of Treaty One – today covering what is southern Manitoba – she illustrates how negotiations were defined by Anishinabe laws (inaakonigewin), which included the relationship to the land, the attendance of all jurisdictions’ participants, and the rooting of the treaty relationship in kinship. While the focus of this book is on Treaty One, Anishinabe laws (inaakonigewin) defined the settler-Anishinabe relationship well before this, and the principles of interpretation apply equally to all treaties with First Nations.


  • 2014, Winner - Margaret McWilliams Scholarly Book Award, Manitoba Historical Society
  • 2014, Winner - Eileen McTavish Sykes Award for Best First Book, Manitoba Book Awards

Aimée Craft, B.A. (L.-Ph.) (University of Manitoba), LL.B. (University of Ottawa), LL.M. (University of Victoria), is an Indigenous lawyer from Manitoba. She recently completed an interdisciplinary Masters in Law and Society at the University of Victoria. Her thesis is entitled Breathing Life Into the Stone Fort Treaty and focuses on understanding and interpreting treaties from an Anishinabe inaakonigewin (legal) perspective.

In her legal practice at the Public Interest Law Centre, she has worked with many Indigenous peoples on land, resources, consultation, human rights, and governance issues. She is chair of the Aboriginal Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association and was appointed to the Speaker’s Bureau of the Treaty Relations Commission of Manitoba. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Indigenous Peoples and Governance Graduate Research Scholarship.

Her pro bono work includes participation in the development of Federal Court Practice Guidelines for Aboriginal Law Matters, including Oral History and Elders Evidence. She is a sessional lecturer and research affiliate at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Law, and has lectured at other universities and presented at conferences in the areas of consultation and accommodation, treaties, Indigenous laws, language rights, and Aboriginal and treaty rights. In 2009, she successfully argued on behalf of language rights advocates in the first entirely French hearing at the Manitoba Court of Appeal.

Aimée is proud of her ancestors, their legacy, and the teachings they have gifted to her and others. She is especially thankful for her family — immediate and extended — and for the land she belongs to.

Foreword / John Borrows

Introduction: Treaty Interpretation and Implementation: Entwined Disconnection

Part One: What Came Before Treaty One

1 Skilled Negotiators and Diplomats: The Anishinabe and Indigenous, Fur Trade, and Crown Treaties

2 Manito Api — this “Piece of Land”: Treaty Making with the Indians of Manitoba

Part Two: Making the Stone Fort Treaty

3 The Anishinabe at the Stone Fort: The People that Belong to this Land

4 Building on Stone Foundations: Relationships and Protocols

Part Three: Anishinabe Inaakonigewin

5 Gizhagiiwin: The Queen’s Obligations of Love, Caring, Kindness and Equality among her Children

6 “The Land Cannot Speak for Itself”: Relationships To and About Land

Part Four: Living the Treaty

7 Implementing the Treaty: Outside Promises and Post-treaty Disputes in the Immediate Post-treaty Years

Conclusion: Re-kindling the Fire: Finding and Embracing the Spirit and Intent of Treaty One Today

Appendix: Treaty No. 1

Endnotes; Bibliography; Index

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