I don’t know much about them. Truthfully, I haven’t thought much about them. Not, at least, until my teacher friend Sheena started blogging about them at Treaty Walks. Her posts are beautiful reflections that come out of her walks to school each day. But still, I guess, the whole treaty thing is a new and fuzzy area for me.

My thoughts about treaties, until now, have been that treaties were the agreements made between the indigenous people and the conquering people (I don’t know what else to call them? Us?) about who got what. And the conquerors, as I’ve understood it, typically got the lion’s share and in fact cheated the indigenous people, all of which has resulted in inequality, racism, poverty, and general bad blood between the different people groups.

But Sheena has made me rethink my think.

Sheena lives and works in a place where treaties are still a big deal. She knows the treaty numbers and she attends conferences about them and they teach about them in her school and there are flags, even. Treaties are a conversation that I didn’t even know was going on.

But as I drift around the edges of this thing I don’t really understand, reading Sheena’s words and wondering about it all, I am struck by the sense that this issue, like many issues, when boiled down to the dregs, is about respect.

Respect. Treating each other with it. Giving it. Accepting it.

It is the thing I’m after when I tell my kids to be nice to each other. It’s what my husband wants from me. It’s what he wants from his boss. It is a necessary ingredient for a productive meeting, whether in a business setting or a church setting. It is essential, don’t you think, for equality. It is the thing that moves acts of charity from a place of superiority to a place of spirituality.

Respect, always, should be the first guest at the table.

I know treaties are a big issue. I know there is government stuff and historical stuff and other stuff that makes it complicated and messy. I can’t change it all or fix it all. I can barely understand it.

But I can be respectful.