On July 18, two major events in the history of Watertown and the United States was celebrated by the Historical Society of Watertown at the Senior Center.
The events took place in 1776, at the Edmund Fowle House, which now sits across the street from the Senior Center. The home was the seat of the Massachusetts Government after the British took over Boston during the Revolutionary War. It also was the location of the signing of the Treaty of Watertown, the first treaty signed by the recently independent United States with a foreign power – the Mi’kmaq and St. John (a.k.a. Maliseet).
The Fowle House was also the place where the Declaration of Independence was first read publicly in Massachusetts.
In prior years, the Historical Society held reenactments of the two events at the Fowle House, and included descendants of the original signers from the Mi’kmaq and Maliseet. The event was held virtually during the Pandemic, but in 2023 an in-person event took place.
During the event, a message from Norman Sylliboy, Eskasoni First Nation in Nova Scotia Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq Grand Council, was read by Marilynne Roach of the Historical Society.
Watertown Statement by Grand Chief
As Grand Chief of the Mi’kmaq people continuing on our traditional ancestral homelands now encompassing the province of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, and parts of the state of Maine I am honored to make a short statement to the people of the United States of America attending this recognition event in Watertown, Massachusetts.
The Watertown Treaty is and continues to be one of the first international Treaties entered into by the government of the United States of America in 1776 after a long war of independence. The Watertown Treaty is more than words. It is a Treaty of a living process of mutual respect and recognition of the sovereign Mi’kmaq peoples and the American people of the newly established United States of America.
The re-enactment of the Watertown Treaty of 1776 renews the long-standing alliance between the United States of America and the Mi’kmaq Nation. The Watertown Treaty had been sought by General George Washington in the hope that the Mi’kmaq Nation would side with the colonies and their struggle against England. The present-day history of the continued recognition of the Watertown Treaty resounds an active alliance with the Mi’kmaq Nation and the United States of America.
The Watertown Treaty of 1776 is a chain of friendship between two peoples, and since 1776 the Mi’kmaq have sent their men and women to join with the American military to support the United States of America in all the major conflicts that the United States of America has been involved in.
As Grand Chief, unfortunately the events of COVID and other logistical impediments have prevented me from personally attending the celebration this year, hopefully I and my Keptins will make every effort to join and be with you in the coming years when the Watertown Historic Society organizes a Watertown Treaty recognition event.
I am pleased to learn and witness the United States of America actively recognizing and celebrating the significance of this important first international Treaty of the United States of America.
Welalioltioq, Norman Sylliboy, kji-saqmaw wjit M’kmaq
See the Historical Society’s event on Watertown Cable by clicking here.