In the Royal Proclamation of 1763, King George III used his “spiritual jurisdiction” to guarantee that Indigenous peoples owned their lands that they had not ceded by treaty. It continues to be cited by Indigenous peoples as a “foundational document” ensuring their territorial rights. This paper examines the significance of the Royal Proclamation as a material artifact and a “metaphysical” legal document, to use John Borrows’ term. Klassen examines how rituals of public memorialization have contributed to the significance of the Royal Proclamation as a document of both Indigenous and Canadian sovereignty today.
Pamela Klassen is the author of Blessed Events: Religion and Home Birth in America (2001) and Spirits of Protestantism: Medicine, Healing, and Liberal Christianity (2011), and The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indian Land (forthcoming). She is Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Anthropology of Modern Religion at the University of Tübingen in Germany and holds the Anneliese Maier Research Award from the Humboldt Foundation.
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