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"Aboriginal title," wrote David Laird, the chairman of the Treaty 8 Commission, "is simply an admission that the Indians should not be deprived of their occupation rights without compensation and their formal consent."
Laird was in effect summing up a body of British law first laid out by King George III in his Royal Proclamation of 1763: "If at any Time any of the said Indians should be inclined to dispose of the said Lands the same shall be Purchased ... at some public Meeting or Assembly of the said Indians."
The compensation paid by the government during the first year of treaty negotiations for the surrender of Athabasca totalled more than $300,000. In return, the Commission enrolled 2,217 Indians under the terms of the Treaty and distributed scrip to 1,243 Métis.