Legal History e-Journal
Michel Morin, University of Montreal, "Fraternité, Souveraineté Et Autonomie Des Autochtones En Nouvelle-France (Fraternity, Sovereignty and Autonomy of Aboriginal Peoples in New France)"
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the legal principles which formed the framework for relationships between the Algonquians peoples of the Saint-Lawrence Valley and the French were generally well understood by both parties. Founded initially on the concepts of friendship, alliance or fraternity, they assumed the existence of independent nations which had their own decisional systems and customs, as well as local or regional chiefs enjoying strong authority in practice. From 1628 to 1663, only new converts were granted the status of subject of the French king; from 1664 to 1674, only their descendents qualified. Afterward, the situation was ambiguous. However, Christian communities living close to the French cities enjoyed a wide autonomy and seldom renounced it. They were sometimes called children of the king, because they unconditionally supported him at the military level. During the second half of the 17th century, nations which had not become Christian also bestowed paternal status on the French king, but this socio-economic dependency did not call into question their independence, something the French understood very well.
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