The treaty is on display until Friday for Treaties Recognition Week
Treaty 21, also known as the Longwoods Treaty, is on display this week at Museum Strathroy-Caradoc for Treaties Recognition Week.
The 200-year-old document was signed by Chippewas of the Thames First Nation representatives and the British Crown on March 9, 1819, and is the first of three written versions.
It’s part of a collection from Library and Archives Canada, and this is the first time it’s on public display.
To learn more about the historic document, CBC News spoke to Kelly Riley, the director of treaty, lands and environment for Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.
What is Treaty 21/The Longwoods Treaty?
The Longwoods Treaty refers to a portion of land that’s north of the Thames River, which includes Strathroy and Komoka in the east, Oil Springs in the west, Bothwell in the south and Watford in the north.
You can find a map of it here.
Riley said the first written version of the treaty “seems to indicate there’s 552,190 acres being sold.”
My ancestors may have sold this land to the Crown for settlement, but it may not mean that we’ve given up our responsibility towards the land.– Kelly Riley
The second version of the treaty, signed in 1820, references the same amount of land. But in the third and final version, signed in 1822, the acreage gets rounded up to 580,000, he explained.
Riley said Indigenous leaders at the time “recognized they got ripped off” by a previous deal that gave the British Crown 2-million acres of land south of the Thames River for a one-time payment of goods – worth just under $5,000.
Those items included blankets, cloth, guns and bullets. But by 1819, in part because the items had deteriorated over time, Riley said the First Nation leaders weren’t interested in goods anymore.
“The Longwoods Treaty started the process of developing annuity,” he said.