On May 7th, 2013, at the Turtle Lodge in Sakgeeng First Nation, a Historic Treaty on Education was signed by First Nations individuals, representatives of Nations, and representatives of Indigenous educational institutions from across Canada. It is a treaty of the people.
In a profoundly historic event, the relationship of Treaty amongst our own peoples and Nations was re-established.
Our ancestors practiced the purest form of democracy, one in which every individual had the opportunity to express themselves, women, men and children.
The Turtle Lodge Treaty: “Our Way of Life” (Indigenous Education) was signed, as an expression of Indigenous jurisdiction over education, by sovereign individuals – women, men, youth, and leadership – from a number of Indigenous Nations.
“Our Indigenous Knowledge is based on our spiritual connection to Creator, the relationship to the land we inherit and how we survive within our ecosystems: medicines, plants, animals, land, sky, water, and all of Creation,” states the Treaty.
The Turtle Lodge Treaty was named at the request of the Elders, to acknowledge the host Lodge of the gathering. The Turtle Lodge is also situated near the recognized geographic centre of the continent of North America, very close to the sacred site of Manitou Api, “Where the Creator Sits”.
It was agreed that the Treaty be shared with all the people, to give everyone the opportunity to sign their name either as
a) sovereign individuals,
b) as representatives of Indigenous educational institutions, or
c) as representatives of Nations.
The Turtle Lodge Treaty was made a living document through spiritual ceremony. Pipe ceremonies and water ceremonies were conducted, and special songs were sung on the sacred drums by women and men, to carry the message of the Treaty around the world. The Treaty document was placed in the water at the mouth of Lake Winnipeg, where the river water systems all the way from the west coast, the south and the east, converge into the Winnipeg River at Sagkeeng First Nation. Sagkeeng means “mouth of the river.” From there the waters flow into Lake Winnipeg, which in turn pours into the Hudson Bay and the major Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific Ocean systems.
A gift of a carved stone bear was presented to the Turtle Lodge to acknowledge the Lodge’s role in hosting the gathering.
Today, we want to give everyone an opportunity to read and sign the Treaty.
Read the Treaty:
Turtle Lodge Treaty: “Our Way of Life”
1.0 Treaty Parties………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
2.0 Lifelong Education………………………………………………………………………………………………. 3
3.0 Indigenous Knowledge………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
4.0 Protection of Indigenous Knowledge and Transfer………………………………………… 4
5.0 Jurisdiction and Authority of Indigenous Education……………………………………… 5
6.0 Implementation……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 6
A Treaty on Education is essential to protect the spiritual gifts granted by our Creator. A Creator, who, in the beginning, gave the laws of miyo pimātisiwin to nistameyimākanak through the Law Lodge. For as long as we continue with the Law Lodge our lands will be protected and we will not see wars or strife on Turtle Island. These laws of the clans are enacted every year by families and Nations who are honoring the human and spirit blood and protecting the children, grandchildren, and generations yet unborn. We protect this knowledge; these lands; and all our relations to fulfill our sacred responsibilities, specifically, to ensure that those generations coming after us will enjoy the gifts of clean air, lands, water, and medicines of our sanctified Mother Earth; for as long as the sun shines, grass grows, waters flow, and for as long as there are Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous Institutions of Higher Learning willingly step forward to assist in the stewardship of this knowledge by privileging our ceremonies and protecting the clans against those that misunderstand the beauty and wonder of the spiritual nature of our beings granted by our Creator. The benefits of this knowledge are meant not only for Indigenous Peoples but are to be shared with all our younger brothers and sisters present to fulfill Creator’s vision of Turtle Island. A vision of unity, peace, good minds, and harmony as Creator intended. Uniting our Nations to serve this common purpose is the intent of a Treaty on Education.
The undersigned representative individuals of the Anishnaabe, Siksi kai’ tsi tapi (Blackfoot), Nehiyaw (Cree), Dakota, Lakota, Nakota, Nisga’a, and Mi’kmaw Nations agree to this Treaty and gather in ceremony May 6th and 7th, 2013 to make this sacred promise to each other in the presence of our Creator. This Treaty is an expression of our jurisdiction over education as peoples of sovereign Nations. The Parties to this agreement hereby signify commitment and support to one another as we collectively act as stewards of our Indigenous Knowledge for generations to come.
Indigenous parties who share a common understanding and wish to be added into this Treaty are welcomed at any time so long as they agree to adhere to the terms contained herein. Treaty parties may collectively amend the Treaty from time to time.
From time immemorial, the learning lodges throughout Turtle Island have been held and owned by the authority of Indigenous women; shared with Indigenous men and the Nation in various capacities. This sacred duty is guided and directed by the inherent responsibility and obligation to carry a sacred law from conception onward throughout the life span: this law is called miyo-ohpikināwasowin. miyo-ohpikināwasowin, means to raise children in a good way. This law guides and directs the education of each child as a clan or relational obligation as understood and applied by each Indigenous Nation within a lived tradition where the child is the center of the Nation. Indigenous jurisdiction and authority of teaching, language, and practice is a lifelong right and obligation. It is the original educational system in a relational-based context and is enduring.
Indigenous Peoples have never relinquished nor extinguished jurisdiction over our right to educate our children.
Land based Indigenous Knowledge is inextricably intertwined with the language and culture of Indigenous Peoples. International discourse recognizes five (5) elements to Nationhood: land, governance, language, culture and peoples. Indigenous knowledge is “written” in pictographs, petroglyphs, winter counts, the lands, the stone markings, the burial grounds, birch bark and sand scrolls, wampum belts, ancient wisdom of our people, sacred ocean gardens, rivers, and numerous other sacred sites encompassing the history of Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous Knowledge(s) are sacred, profound, and a gift connected to the spirit world. Indigenous education is transferred and transmitted through our songs, stories, languages, ceremonies and lands of Indigenous Peoples; these are interconnected and cannot be separated. Indigenous Knowledge is transferred and transmitted through oral tradition passed from generation to generation and is intrinsic to the lands, skies, and waters in which our history is tied and our culture is created.
Indigenous Knowledge has always, and will always exist: self-determination is the practice and expression of intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual gifts given to the people and thus translated into the education of children. Indigenous Knowledge comprises all knowledge pertaining to a particular Nation and their territory, the nature or use of which has been transmitted from generation to generation. This knowledge includes our way of life. The use and transmission of Indigenous Knowledge is an inherent right from the beginning of time. Indigenous Knowledge continues through the languages, lands, and cultures of Indigenous Peoples which persevere today.
Our Indigenous Knowledge is based on our spiritual connection to Creator, the relationship to the land we inherit and how we survive within our ecosystems: medicines, plants, animals, land, sky, water, and all of Creation.
We inherit the right and obligation to be keepers of our culture and stewards of our lands and territories. Children have a right to this inheritance through the transmission and transference of Indigenous Knowledge, cultural practices, Indigenous languages, and laws. In inheriting this knowledge each generation learns how they are connected to our relations and Creation.
Knowledge transmission is guided by our way of life through, ceremonies, songs, observations, traditional teachings, and languages. Language is connected to the plants, animals, and the spiritual relations that help sustain our environments. We have an inherent right to our Original instructions and to live upon our lands under Natural Law. The law of wāhkōhtowin directs and guides the transmission of knowledge. The integral source of our traditional knowledge is our wāhkōhtowin relationship to the ecosystems and those with whom we share the lands. In this manner, Indigenous Peoples carry the memory of our history and connection to Creation.
As sovereign Nations and Peoples we define the scope and content of lifelong Indigenous education. In so doing, we enact our sovereign right to educate our children and peoples. Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) affirms our inherent and sovereign rights to determine education for our Peoples and children.
Indigenous Nations have exercised our right to educate our children and people since time immemorial. Education is integral to transferring our identity as Indigenous Peoples and as such is a core foundation of how we preserve and sustain our Nations. The practice of education amongst Indigenous Peoples is a requirement of self-determination and is recognized under International Law.
Various United Nations articles, covenants, and charters recognize the inherent and customary rights that Nations have to pursue self-determination. This Treaty is an act of exercising our right to self-determination through protecting education of Indigenous Peoples and Nations that are party to this Treaty. Article 1(2) of the United Nations Charter recognizes this.
The parties’ rights include collective rights to ownership, protection, and custody of their Indigenous Knowledge and that every such right includes the incidental right to teach such practices, customs, and traditions to ensure their continuity. We assert our right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) on decisions affecting us, our education, and how Indigenous Knowledge is utilized. FPIC is recognized under Articles 18 and 19 of the UNDRIP.
The core of our identities as Nations and Peoples is generated by the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next through our own education systems. This Treaty is an act of sovereignty to protect our knowledge systems that are grounded in our cultural practices, languages, ceremonies, connection to our lands and to all Creation. We make this Treaty with our brothers and sisters of each Nation in keeping with our laws to protect and preserve for the generations to come. Each generation has the responsibility and obligation to keep our Nations alive and strong.
The parties agree to meet on an annual basis to strategize and review actions on Treaty implementation.
The parties agree to promote awareness of the Treaty and each other’s activities in the expression of our jurisdiction over education.
The parties agree to engage others to comply and adhere to the articles of the Treaty. The parties agree to create competent authorities within their respective territories to ensure compliance with Free Prior and Informed Consent in exercising ownership, control and possession of Indigenous knowledge and preventing misappropriation (examples of competent authorities include traditional structures such as Elders Councils, Clan Mothers/ Grandmothers, Longhouse, Bundle Societies, among others, and may also include research ethics boards, Community research councils, and Indigenous post-secondary institutions, as our Nations deem appropriate).
Duly signed by signatories of Nations present on 7th day of May, in the year 2013, on Sagkeeng First Nation Territory.
 The limitations of the colonizer’s English language should be taken into consideration and this document is to be interpreted from within an Indigenous paradigm.
 UNDRIP: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
- Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
- Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination.
- States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their Communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.
 Charter of the United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml
“To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace”.
 Supra Note 1.
Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision making institutions.
States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
Our Online Signatories
|66||Scott Herron||Big Rapids||USA||Jan 28, 2019|
|65||Mara Thorpe||Fullerton||United States||Oct 08, 2018|
|64||Paul Steward||London||Canada||Jul 24, 2018|
|63||Nama Janin Sunrise||Miami||United States||Sep 30, 2017|
|62||Michael Stanton||Bristol||England||Sep 20, 2017|
|61||Marie-Claude Charland||Val-des-Monts||Canada||Aug 06, 2017|
|60||Rod Helfenstein||Maple Ridge||Canada||Nov 22, 2016|
|59||Terri Smith-Saucke||Rochester||USA||Aug 29, 2016|
|58||Vanwert Lawrence||Redby||United States||Aug 12, 2016|
|57||Robert Orszulik||Burlington||Canada||Jun 01, 2016|
|56||Phoebe Man||Winnipeg||Canada||Dec 30, 2015|
|55||Viviana Cornejo||Grandville||United States||Oct 19, 2015|
|54||Bradley Burns||Keeseekoowenin||Canada||Oct 09, 2015|
|53||Waasekom Edward George||Saugeen||Canada||Sep 18, 2015|
|52||Amy Blatz||Great Falls||Cana||Jul 23, 2015|
|51||Brandy Brown||Kalamazoo||USA||Jul 13, 2015|
|50||samantha pomareda||kleefeld||Canada||Jul 13, 2015|
|49||Cyndi ChaCha Phelan||arcadia||usa||Jun 23, 2015|
|48||Alessandra Conicella||Winnipeg||Canada||Jun 08, 2015|
|47||Kim-malou Worthington||England||May 26, 2015|
|46||Sarah Queener-Plourde||O'Brien||United States||May 25, 2015|
|45||Elizabeth Wiley||Phelan||USA||Apr 28, 2015|
|44||Vincent Cornish||Big Bear Lake||America.||Apr 27, 2015|
|43||Brandon Petahtegoose||Atikameksheng||Turtle Island||Apr 25, 2015|
|42||Maria windtalker||United Kingdom||Apr 23, 2015|
|41||Alexandra Valiente||Winnipeg||Canada||Apr 10, 2015|
|40||nancy kendrick||belmar||United States||Mar 21, 2015|
|39||Tamara Cardinal||Winnipeg||Canada||Mar 13, 2015|
|38||Jane Rodgers||Santa Rosa||usa||Mar 11, 2015|
|37||Clan Mother Rachelle Figueroa||Los Angeles||United States||Mar 11, 2015|
|36||Peggy Fredborg||Selkirk||Canada||Feb 19, 2015|
|35||susie gray||hudson||Canada||Jan 25, 2015|
|34||Jackie Williams||hamilton||canada||Jan 16, 2015|
|33||Marc Elhyani||Las vegas||Usa||Jan 02, 2015|
|32||Lorraine Thomas||USA||Nov 23, 2014|
|31||Elizabeth Gray||Hamilton||Canada||Nov 22, 2014|
|30||Shando Varda||Cardigan||United Kingdom||Nov 22, 2014|
|29||Jacqueline Graham||Dodges Ferry||Australia||Nov 21, 2014|
|28||Jennifer MacAulay||Baddeck||Canada||Nov 18, 2014|
|27||Ernie MacAulay||Baddeck||Canada||Nov 18, 2014|
|26||Sean Tongia||Waterford West||Australia||Nov 03, 2014|
|25||Tallah Willis||Atlanta||United States||Oct 29, 2014|
|24||Peter Carter||Pender Island||Canada||Jul 20, 2014|
|23||Anita Kennedy||Winnipeg||Canada||Jun 28, 2014|
|22||Dawn Marsden||Mission||Canada||Jun 24, 2014|
|21||vanessa sky||dryden||canada||Jun 12, 2014|
|20||sylvia lanker||homeland||USA||May 20, 2014|
|19||Zhaawano Giizhik||Warffum||Netherlands||May 14, 2014|
|18||Joseph Katt||Canada||Apr 18, 2014|
|17||Lisa Poupart||Green Bay||USA||Apr 15, 2014|