The McKee Treaty of 1790: British-Aboriginal Diplomacy in the Great Lakes
On the 19th of May, 1790, the representatives of four First Nations of Detroit and the British Crown signed, each in their own custom, a document ceding 5,440 square kilometers of Aboriginal land to the Crown that spring for £1200 Quebec Currency in goods. Understandings of this treaty in historical scholarship have focused entirely on the written document and a controversy with the Land Board for the District of Hesse. This limited analysis has neglected Aboriginal accounts of the Treaty, rendering a one-sided perspective that represents only part of the story. This thesis is an attempt to complicate what is now known as the McKee Treaty of 1790 by incorporating the perspectives and actions of the Aboriginal signatories. Specifically, I argue that our understanding of the McKee Treaty must extend beyond the confines of the written treaty text that was signed on the 19th of May, 1790. Although the Treaty fulfilled the needs of the colonial Land Board, it also served to strengthen the alliance between the Crown and the Aboriginal Confederacy. Finally, this thesis also demonstrates that the Treaty was a means for both the Crown and Aboriginal peoples to advance their interests against the shared threat of the United States.
History, Detroit, Treaty:
Master of Arts (M.A.)