Various First Nations communities across Turtle Island (North America) had and continue to have existing traditions and laws that govern land rights and what would be considered “human rights” in European law.

Knowledge of these ceremonies and agreements are passed on through several generations, so records of these laws are used today in First Nations communities through oral histories. They date back to times before the earliest contact with Europeans.

It is important to remember that Indigenous nations view land differently from European philosophies. Those beliefs of private property and land ownership did not translate well into Indigenous languages or worldviews. Treaty making did not consider how First Nations established their relationships to the land, as well as how sacred that relationship is.

Today, it is agreed and understood that treaties provide the foundation for a nation-to-nation partnership. First Nations, Métis and Inuit have spent centuries fighting for their right to be seen as nations.