Unit Two: Spirituality in Understanding of the Treaties

Treaties were viewed as a sacred undertaking by First Nations people. Discuss and define what spirituality is. What role did First Nations spirituality have in the treaty-making process?

According to First Nations people, spirituality is “an over-arching influence that refers to the Creator’s presence in nature and all our activities” (Office of the Treaty Commissioner 2009).  Since First Nations people believe that spirituality influences their activities it also influenced the treaty-making process. When the First Nations made the treaties, they included the Creator as the third participant of the treaties. To the First Nations, they and the Crown did not only promised to keep the treaties to each other but also made a vow to the Creator.

When the Crown was making the treaties with the First Nations the Crown participated in the pipe ceremony. The pipe ceremony is a sacred ritual that the First Nations used to commune with the Creator. During the “time of treaty signing, the smoking of the pipe was done in recognition of the Creator, to ask for guidance and to acknowledge that the act of signing the treaties was a solemn pledge between…First Nations peoples and the Crown.”  It was “expected the promises would be upheld and honoured for time immemorial.” (Office of the Treaty Commissioner 2008).

How can spirituality be taught in school?

To teach First Nation spirituality students need to learn First Nations world views. Educators can start with teaching First Nations language. There are “[i]deas in Cree culture are tied to a different way of viewing the world, with specific words that describe that world view.” (Office of the Treaty Commissioner 2009).


Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (2009). Making the Connection Cree First Nations Kehte-ayak Thoughts on Education. Saskatoon, SK.

 Office of the Treaty Commissioner. Treaty Essential Learnings #4. 26-47.

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Teacher in training.

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