Indian Reserve (1763)

"Indian Reserve" is a historical term for the largely uncolonized land in North America that was claimed by France, ceded to Great Britain through the Treaty of Paris (1763) at the end of the Seven Years' War—also known as the French and Indian War—and set aside for the First Nations in the Royal Proclamation of 1763.[1][2] The British government had contemplated establishing an Indian barrier state in the portion of the reserve west of the Appalachian Mountains, and bounded by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and the Great Lakes. British officials aspired to establish such a state even after the region was assigned to the United States in the Treaty of Paris (1783) ending the American Revolutionary War, but abandoned their efforts in 1814 after losing military control of the region during the War of 1812.[3]

Indian Reserve
Territory of British America

Indian Reserve west of Alleghenies in 1775, after Quebec was extended to the Ohio River. Map does not reflect border as most recently adjusted by Treaty of Camp Charlotte (1774) and Henderson Purchase (1775) that opened West Virginia, most of Kentucky, and parts of Tennessee to white settlement.
 Royal Proclamation of 1763
October 7 1763
 Treaty of Fort Stanwix
November 5, 1768
 Vandalia (colony)
December 27, 1769
 Quebec Act
January 13, 1774
 Transylvania (colony)
March 14, 1775
 Treaty of Paris (1783)
September 3 1787
Preceded by
Succeeded by
New France
Northwest Territory
Province of Quebec (1763–1791)
Colony of Virginia
Today part ofCanada
United States

In the present-day United States, it consisted of all the territory north of Florida and New Orleans that was east of the Mississippi River and west of the Eastern Continental Divide in the Appalachian Mountains that formerly comprised the eastern half of Louisiana (New France). In modern Canada, it consisted of all the land immediately north of the Great Lakes but south of Rupert's Land belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, as well as a buffer between the Province of Quebec and Rupert's Land stretching from Lake Nipissing to Newfoundland.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 organized on paper much of the new territorial gains in three colonies in North America—East Florida, West Florida, and Quebec. The rest of the expanded British territory was left to Native Americans. The delineation of the Eastern Divide, following the Allegheny Ridge of the Appalachians, confirmed the limit to British settlement established at the 1758 Treaty of Easton, before Pontiac's War. Additionally, all European settlers in the territory (who were mostly French) were supposed to leave the territory or get official permission to stay. Many of the settlers moved to New Orleans and the French land on the west side of the Mississippi (particularly St. Louis), which in turn had been ceded secretly to Spain to become Louisiana (New Spain). However, many of the settlers remained and the British did not actively attempt to evict them.

In 1768, lands west of the Alleghenies and south of the Ohio were ceded to the colonies by the Cherokee at the Treaty of Hard Labour and by the Six Nations at the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. However, several other aboriginal nations, particularly Shawnee and Mingo, continued to inhabit and claim their lands that had been sold to the British by other tribes. This conflict led to Dunmore's War in 1774, ended by the Treaty of Camp Charlotte where these nations agreed to accept the Ohio River as the new boundary.

Restrictions on settlement were to become a flash point in the American Revolutionary War, following the Henderson Purchase of much of Kentucky from the Cherokee in 1775. The renegade Cherokee chief Dragging Canoe did not agree to the sale, nor did the Royal Government in London, which forbade settlement in this region. As an act of revolution in defiance of the crown, white pioneer settlers began pouring into Kentucky in 1776, opposed by Dragging Canoe in the Cherokee–American wars, which continued until 1794.


Early settlements

French and Indian War

  • 1754 – A French unit under Joseph Coulon de Jumonville has a letter for George Washington to leave French territory at Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Washington's militia ambush the French unit, and one account has it that Jumonville is killed by Seneca nation chief Tanacharison while in custody of Washington, igniting the French and Indian War.
  • 1754 – Washington surrenders to Jumonville's half brother Louis Coulon de Villiers in the Battle of the Great Meadows in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. It is the only time Washington is to ever surrender in battle. He signs a document taking responsibility for the assassination of Jumonville and is released. The document is to be used to widen the war into the global Seven Years' War.
  • 1762 – Following massive French defeats, the French secretly cede Louisiana on the west side of the Mississippi to its ally Spain in the Treaty of Fontainebleau (1762).
  • 1763 – France cedes all lands in modern Canada and all lands east of the Mississippi in the Treaty of Paris (1763). Terms call for religious tolerance in Quebec and unrestricted emigration from French Canada for 18 months.[4]
  • 1763 – George III issues the Royal Proclamation setting aside the Indian Reserve and orders all settlers to leave the reserve and declares that the Crown rather than individual colonies has the right to negotiate settlements.[5]

Push to settle the territory

The British colonies in North America from 1763 to 1775, at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, including the locations of the proposed colonies of Charlotiana, Transylvania, and Vandalia

American Revolutionary War


In the area of the Indian Reserve in what is now the United States, after coming under firm control of the new country, was gradually settled by European Americans and divided into territories and states, starting with the Northwest Territory. Most (but not all) Indians in the area of the former Reserve were relocated further west under policies of Indian Removal. After the Louisiana Purchase, the Indian Intercourse Act of 1834 created an Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River as a destination, until it too was divided into territories and states for European American settlement, leaving only modern Indian Reservations inside the boundaries of U.S. states.

See also


  1. "Royal Proclamation". Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2013.
  2. Colin Gordon Calloway (2006). The Scratch of a Pen: 1763 and the Transformation of North America. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 9780198041191.
  3. Dwight L. Smith, "A North American Neutral Indian Zone: Persistence of a British Idea." Northwest Ohio Quarterly 61#2-4 (1989): 46-63 traces the idea from 1750s to 1814
  4. "Quebec History". Retrieved February 11, 2018.
  5. Derek Hayes (2008). Canada: An Illustrated History. Douglas & McIntyre. p. 80. ISBN 9781553652595.
  6. Barbara Graymont (1975). The Iroquois in the American Revolution. Syracuse University Press. p. 297. ISBN 9780815601166.
  7. Jeff Broadwater (2006). George Mason, Forgotten Founder. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 61. ISBN 9780807830536.
  8. Spencer C. Tucker; James Arnold; Roberta Wiener (2011). The Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars, 1607–1890: A Political, Social, and Military History. ABC-CLIO. p. 83. ISBN 9781851096978.

Further reading

  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg. Jay's Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy (Macmillan, 1923) ch 5 online
  • Farrand, Max. "The Indian Boundary Line," American Historical Review (1905) 10#4 pp. 782–791 free in JSTOR
  • Hatheway, G. G. "The Neutral Indian Barrier State: A Project in British North American Policy, 1715-1815" (PhD dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1957)
  • Ibbotson, Joseph D. "Samuel Kirkland, the Treaty of 1792, and the Indian Barrier State." New York History 19#.4 (1938): 374-391. in JSTOR
  • Leavitt, Orpha E. "British Policy on the Canadian Frontier, 1782-92: Mediation and an Indian Barrier State" Proceedings of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin (1916) Volume 63 pp 151–85 online
  • Smith, Dwight L. "A North American Neutral Indian Zone: Persistence of a British Idea." Northwest Ohio Quarterly 61#2-4 (1989): 46-63. traces idea from 1750s to 1814

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