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International Law and EmpireHistorical Explorations$
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Martti Koskenniemi, Walter Rech, and Manuel Jiménez Fonseca

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795575.001.0001

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A Comporting Sovereign, Tribes, and the Ordering of Imperial Authority in Colonial Upper Canada of the 1830s

A Comporting Sovereign, Tribes, and the Ordering of Imperial Authority in Colonial Upper Canada of the 1830s

Chapter:
(p.225) 10 A Comporting Sovereign, Tribes, and the Ordering of Imperial Authority in Colonial Upper Canada of the 1830s
Source:
International Law and Empire
Author(s):

PG McHugh

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795575.003.0011

Before the late 1830s, relations with tribal peoples in the colonies of the British Empire were conducted by a form of improvisational diplomacy through treaties that recognized the integrity of the tribe and the authority of its leaders. As this Upper Canada example shows, from the 1830s imperial practice took a more deliberative position towards the status of indigenous peoples and colonial land policy. The governing paradigm became one of British subjecthood and tribe members’ full amenability to English law. The Crown ‘protected’ the collective interest of the tribe through the beneficent deployment in loco parentis of its executive authority under the royal prerogative. This ‘protection’ was characterized as inherently temporary—a tolerance of an essentially transitional tribalism destined to disappear with First Nations’ civilization. By this legal configuring, tribes exited the world of diplomacy and military alliance for the less potent, more abject stature of subjecthood.

Keywords:   Tribes, protection, prerogative, subjecthood, treaty, land policy, First Nations, comportment, sovereign

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