The land rights of Indigenous Canadian peoples, as affected by the Crown's acquisition of their territories

Brian Slattery ( Slattery, Brian )
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University of Oxford, United States 
Indigenous peoples -- Land tenure -- Canada 
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"The problem examined in this work is whether the land rights originally held by Canada's indigenous peoples survived the process whereby the British Crown acquired sovereignty over their territories, and, if so, in what form. The question, although historical in nature, has important implications for current disputes involving aboriginal land claims in Canada. It is considered here largely as a matter of first impression. The author has examined the historical evidence with a fresh eye, in the light of contemporaneous legal authorities. Due consideration is given to modern case-law, but the primary focus is upon the historical process proper.

Despite the importance of the subject, little detailed legal research has been done in this area, due, perhaps, to the relative inaccessibility of the documents concerned and the difficulties of interpreting such documents at several centuries remove, involving, as it does, the resurrection of a long-dead legal ethos.

The work begins with a review of the basic principles of British law governing the acquisition of colonial territories and its effect on private property rights. It then examines the original territorial claims advanced concerning Canada by Spain and Portugal, France, and England, discussing their implications for Indian land rights. It proceeds to trace the steps by which the British Crown acquired title to its Canadian territories up to 1763, discussing their historical evolution, scope, validity, legal effects, modifiability and continuing application. The conclusion reached is that Indian peoples generally retained recognizable rights to unsurrendered lands in their possession throughout Canadian territories following the Crown's acquisition of sovereignty, and that these rights were considered inalienable save to the Crown or its assignees."--Abstract. 
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