Neil Young ‘Honor the Treaties’ concert tour

Last August, Canadian-born rock-n-roll legend Neil Young along with actress Darryl Hannah hit the road in Young’s ethanol-fueled ’59 Lincoln. Last spring, a friend of Young contacted the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) in Alberta about their struggle to keep the XL Keystone pipeline off of their traditional territories, collectively known as Treaty 8. Young is not only famous for his vocal cords but also for his politically-charged messages against governments and groups who seek to destroy the environment and the Indigenous people who’s very existence depends on that environment.

Treaty 8 was the last and largest agreement between various First Nations of Alberta and Queen Victoria, which covers over 840,000 square kilometres. Ever since it was signed, the federal government claims that Treaty 8 which is made up of mostly Cree, Dene and Metis nations, have surrendered any claim to title to all but the lands set aside for reserves. Furthermore, the federal government gave Shell Canada permission to expand its 7,500 hectare Jackpine oil sand mine to 13,000 hectares. Disturbing the environment’s delicate ecosystem will have devastating if not lethal effects on the area’s land, water and animals, not to mention the people who live on that land.

When Young reached Fort McMurray, Alberta last summer, he was shocked at what he witnessed. Young stated, “The fact is, Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima. Fort McMurray is a wasteland. The Native peoples are dying. The fumes (are) everywhere – you can smell it when you get to town. The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray. People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”

In 2002, Young published his autobiography titled, ‘Waging Heavy Peace’ and according to his website,, he directly criticized Stephen Harper and the Canadian government by stating, “Harper’s Conservatives now compete with Australia’s pro-coal government for the worst climate record in the industrialized world.”

Darryl Hannah had this to say, “My stance against the boondoggle that is the Keystone XL pipeline has been a stand to protect us from exacerbating the effects of the climate crisis. We are already experiencing its force, in the form of killer floods, droughts, massive fires and super storm catastrophes.”

Upon speaking with various members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, Young decided to help them in their legal struggles in fighting the government and the oil companies. Recently, Young has announced he will be performing four benefit concerts, with all funds going towards the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Legal Defence Fund. The concert tour which is called “Honor the Treaties”. will also include performances by talented Canadian jazz artist Diana Krall.

Concerts will happen at Toronto’s Massey Hall (Jan. 12), Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall (Jan. 16), Regina’s Conexus Arts Centre (Jan. 17) and Calgary’s Jack Singer Concert Hall (Jan. 19). Tickets for the concerts go on sale this Friday and can be purchased through Ticketmaster. Seats range in price from $55 to $250.

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  1. A great idea to bring awareness and needed funding for the courts, but l wonder who really purchased those tickets? I was on line at 10:25 and as soon as the window opened at 10:30, we attempted to buy tickets but they were already sold out!? How does that happen?

    1. The Canadian federal government divides aboriginal (indigenous) people into 3 categories, the Inuit, the Metis and the Indians.

      So I am referring to the people the Canadian federal government calls Indians.

      Can you think of a name that would distinguish Indians from other aboriginal (indigenous) people in Canada?

  2. I wonder if Neil Young and his associates will bring copies of the articles of the treaties the Crown has with Indians in Canada so people can see what the Crown promised to the Indians and what the Indians promised to the Crown.

    1. Treaties were pre-written, not negotiated.
      Written in a foreign language, english legalese.
      Chiefs could not read, write, speak or understand english.
      Summary of treaties is as follows…..

      You are no longer Indians and we white men own everything
      If we white men want your reserve lands, we can take that too.

      Now, what chief would agree to and sign a treaty that says that?
      The Chiefs were orally promised that they could hunt, fish
      and live as their fathers of yore, and not be restricted as of territory!

      You may want to check out these links…

      1. Treaty 9 territory is in part of what was called Rupert’s Land, which the British Crown took over in 1670 and granted to the Hudson’s Bay Company.

        The Indians in that area had been trading with the British for about 200 years before they made Treaty 9 and I have a feeling that some, if not many, of the Indians had gone to mission schools and knew how to speak English in order to trade with the British.

        And there is probably no doubt the Crown wanted the Indians to cede land to the Crown.

        Early in the articles, of Treaty 9, it says “And whereas, the said commissioners have proceeded to negotiate a treaty with the Ojibeway, Cree and other Indians, inhabiting the district hereinafter defined and described, and the same has been agreed upon, and concluded by the respective bands at the dates mentioned hereunder, the said Indians do hereby cede, release, surrender and yield up to the government of the Dominion of Canada, for His Majesty the King and His successors for ever, all their rights titles and privileges whatsoever, to the lands” the Indians ceded to the Crown.

        That or a similar statement is in the 1827 Huron Tract Treaty (around Sarnia, Ontario), the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty, the 1850 Robinson Superior Treaty and in most of the numbered treaties 1 to 11 across western Canada.

        There is a similar statement in the 1923 William’s Treaties covering central Ontario.

        And, in the numbered treaties 1 and 2 and in the 1923 Williams treaties there is nothing about giving Indians the right or privilege of hunting outside of reserves so not all treaties included those rights or privileges.

        McMartin was involved in Treaty 9 but not all the other treaties.

        When the treaties were being negotiated and made, there were Indian and/or Metis interpreters present who could read, write and speak English and French and who could speak the Indian languages. They helped Indian chiefs and headmen go through the treaties if the chiefs and/or headmen needed help. Did the interpreters misinform the Indians chiefs and headmen about the intentions of the Crown?

        In addition, Indian bands that did not sign the original Treaty 9 agreed to become part of Treaty 9 and were added to Treaty 9 in adhesions to the Treaty until 1930. Did they not know what Treaty 9 said?

        Are people now tying to suggest that in all those cases the bright Indian chiefs and headmen were so naive and ill-informed they did not understand the Crown’s intentions and the meaning of the treaties?

      2. But I also thought that, according to the Two Row Wampum concept, when Indians gave land to non natives, the Indians and the non natives would live apart on their separate lands like people on two paths or in two separate vessels travelling in parallel down a river, rule their lands separately and not interfere with each other.

      3. Seems like there is something wrong in Denmark

        The following is an excerpt found here…..

        To further confound Douglas’s apparent generosity to Indigenous
        Communities, James Hendrickson (1988) presents an account of the unusual
        way the treaty itself was created. Douglas initially had the
        indigenous leaders of the community sign their ‘approval’ at the bottom
        of a blank sheet. In search of the appropriate text to complete the
        document, Douglas used text that was virtually identical, except for the
        addition of appropriate names and dates, to a treaty signed a decade
        earlier in New Zealand, the Treaty of Waitangi.

        Looks like the honour of the crown was foresaken world wide!

        1. That’s interesting. If Douglas had not had some Indians sign a blank piece of paper, I guess Douglas and the Indians would have had an oral agreement to share (divide up) land.

          And I guess, the non native settlers (colonists) would have settled on and developed their lands and the Indians and the non native settlers would have ruled their lands separately according to the Two Row Wampum concept of following parallel paths without interference.

          So would the Crown have had to pay once or continuously for getting and using the land?

          Was there any agreement in the Douglas Treaties for the Crown to provide annuities to the Saanich and other Indians on Vancouver island?

          Should the Crown be paying to fund their reserves now if the Douglas treaties are invalid?

      4. In Treaty 9, it says “And His Majesty the King hereby agrees with the said Indians that they shall have the right to pursue their usual vocations of hunting, trapping and fishing throughout the tract surrendered as heretofore described, subject to such regulations as may from time to time be made by the government of the country, acting under the authority of His Majesty, and saving and excepting such tracts as may be required or taken up from time to time for settlement, mining, lumbering, trading or other purposes”.

        I read over the links you provided and watched the video with lawyer Murray Klippenstein.

        In that video, Klippenstein points out and highlights the parts he says are the pertinent sections of the MacMartin diaries.

        1) MacMartin wrote the Indians were “all allowed as of yore to hunt and fish where they pleased”.

        2) MacMartin wrote “they could follow their custom of hunting and fishing where they pleased”.

        3) MacMartin wrote “when it was explained to them they could hunt and fish as of old and they were not restricted as to territory”.

        4) MacMartin wrote “Again it was put forcibly before them, that (the reserve) was a home for them that was being provided and not a hunting reserve and they could hunt wherever they pleased, (upon which) they signified their consent”.

        All of the MacMartin comments cited are about the area and where Indians could hunt on the land they ceded to the Crown, not about the duration of time the Indians could hunt on the Crown’s land outside of the Indian reserves.

        In Treaty 9, the Crown said the Indians could hunt and fish “throughout the tract surrendered”. The Crown did not place a restriction on the area outside of Indian reserves over which the Indians could hunt so basically MacMartin’s comments concur with the Crown’s intentions to allow the Indians to hunt wherever they wanted outside of reserves.

        The Crown placed a limit, not on area, but on time and said the Indians could hunt and fish “throughout the tract surrendered” or anywhere on the Crown’s land “saving and excepting such tracts as may be required or taken up from time to time for settlement, mining, lumbering, trading or other purposes”.

        MacMartin’s comments are about the manner, the area and where Indians could hunt and fish but don’t say anything that would refute a limitation on time.

        In other words, there is nothing in the MacMartin comments to indicate that, in Treaty 9, the Crown promised the Indians they could hunt and fish forever on the Crown’s land outside of Indian reserves without interference.

        And did the Indian chiefs and headmen who made Treaty 9 really think that, after they ceded land to the Crown, the Crown would leave that land as wilderness and never take any of it up for settlement?

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