Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

Polishing the Chain: Treaty Relations in Toronto

What does it mean to be a treaty person in Toronto? What do treaties tell us about what it means to live in right relation with each other, and the land? How can we live up to our treaty responsibilities in the present? Toronto is the traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, Wendat and Haudenosaunee Confederacies. It is also one of the most culturally diverse cities on Earth. There is a web of interconnected and sometimes conflicting historical treaties that were negotiated on these lands, agreements that hold continued relevance and possibility for the present. These are anchored in long-standing Indigenous legal and diplomatic traditions, as well as British common law and colonial techniques.

This Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change inaugural seminar series on Polishing the Chain: Treaty Relations in Toronto will explore the historical significance and contemporary relevance of the treaties Indigenous nations in southern Ontario have made with each other, with the land and with the Crown. It will explore the spirit and intent of Toronto treaties, the ways Indigenous Peoples have upheld and continue to uphold them, the extent to which they are reflected in contemporary Indigenous/state relations, and the possibilities these open for working towards conciliation and establishing right relations with each other and the land.

Sept. 28: Fall Series Launch
“The Symbolic Language of Wampum Diplomacy, co-presented with the Toronto Biennial of Art”

At the 1764 Treaty of Niagara, the British extended their nearly century-old Covenant Chain alliance with the Haudenosaunee to the 24 Western Nations of the Great Lakes area. In this talk, Alan Ojig Corbiere and Rick Hill will discuss the Covenant Chain, the visual and metaphoric language of wampum diplomacy, and explore the symbolism represented in the 1764 and 24 Nations belts delivered at Niagara to secure this crucial alliance. The symbolism inscribed in these belts drew from the Dish with One Spoon Wampum, and would have been used deliberately as a means of securing relations with Indigenous nations. Ange Loft will discuss the ways this visual language is deployed in her current A Treaty Guide for Torontonians and Dish Dances, both of which will be featured in the 2022 Toronto Biennial of Art.

Register at:

The seminar series is co-presented with York’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Languages, the Indigenous Environmental Project, Jumblies Theatre and Art’s Talking Treaties, and the Toronto Biennial of Art.



Sep 28 2021


11:30 am - 1:30 pm


Zoom Webinar


QR Code