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JULIEN (Julian), JOHN, Micmac chief; fl. 1779–1805 in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick.

In July 1779 hms Viper sailed up the Miramichi River to protect British traders who had been robbed by the local Micmacs. It was wartime, and the Indians’ fidelity to the crown was in doubt. Flying an American flag, the Viper put out a boat under French colours; after a brief fight, 16 Indians were captured and taken prisoner to Quebec. The ship’s commander, Captain Augustus Harvey, concluded peace with John Julien, whom he recognized as chief of the Miramichi Indians, on 28 July 1779.

A few weeks later ten “Consequential Indians” headed by John Julien and his brother Francis visited Michael Francklin*, superintendent of Indian affairs for Nova Scotia. They wanted to know what had happened to the prisoners and asked for supplies to carry their families through the winter. Francklin made a treaty with the ten at Windsor, N.S., on 22 Sept. 1779. For their part, the Indians acknowledged that they should have tried to stop the attacks on the traders, whom they agreed to protect in the future; they promised to hand over any of their number who were hostile and to have nothing to do with John Allan, the American superintendent of eastern Indians, who had been trying to win the support of the Micmacs and Malecites. In return, Francklin gave them supplies, promised not to molest them, and agreed to send traders to furnish necessities in exchange for furs. John Julien signed on behalf of the Indians of the Miramichi, Pokemouche, and Restigouche regions. On 30 Aug. 1783, Governor John Parr* of Nova Scotia gave John Julien and his tribe a licence to occupy, during pleasure, 20,000 acres along the shores of the Northwest Miramichi River.

The remembered version of these events can be seen in a Micmac-language document that came to light in 1931. According to this account a treaty was signed on 17 June 1794 between “King John Julian,” together with his brother Francis, and King George III, represented by Governor William Milan, aboard an unnamed warship on the Miramichi. The English king said to the Indian king: “Henceforth you will teach your children to maintain peace and I give you this paper upon which are written many promises which will never be effaced.” Then Julien requested land and was granted six miles on the Northwest Miramichi River. “Henceforth,” said King George, “I will provide for you and for the future generation so long as the sun rises and river flows.”

After the province of New Brunswick came into existence in 1784 Parr’s licence was called into question since part of these Indian lands were included in a grant made to John Cort and William Davidson*. Julien requested confirmation of his lands on 8 July 1785 and Deputy Surveyor Benjamin Marston* reported on their extent on 29 Aug. 1785. Under the authority of Parr’s licence the Indians claimed a strip of land one mile deep along each shore of the Northwest Miramichi for 20 miles from its confluence with the Southwest Miramichi: six and a half miles of this tract overlapped the new grant. Nothing was done to resolve the contradiction. On 10 Jan. 1789 New Brunswick issued a licence of occupation to John Julien for 3,033 acres within present-day Newcastle parish, and warned that “all persons are hereby strictly forbidden to interrupt or molest the said John Julian and his tribe in the peaceable possession and occupancy hereby given.” This acreage extended part of Governor Parr’s grant farther inland from the Northwest Miramichi and formed the basis for the Eel Ground Indian Reserve. Further lands were added by licences of occupation dated 5 March 1805 for 8,700 acres (the Big Hole Tract) and 750 acres (the Indian Point Indian Reserve), both on the Northwest Miramichi River.

In 1808 Deputy Surveyor William Franklin Odell* was ordered to survey the Indian lands on the Miramichi, with the result that the 20,000 acres licensed by Parr were cut down by half. In his report of 16 Sept. 1808, Odell noted that he had “pointed out to the Indians on the plans the boundaries of the several tracts allotted to them, and informed them that they must not expect or claim anything more with which they expressed themselves satisfied.” Since their licences of occupation ran only during pleasure, the Indians had no legal protection. A further threat to the reserves came from whites who either squatted on the land or made arrangements with the local chief. In 1805 James Oxford obtained quitclaims from Chief John Julien and the government made no effort to stop the practice, holding that it could not interfere in private purchases of Indian lands.

John Julien was chief at a critical period, for it was in his lifetime that whites established themselves throughout New Brunswick. He owed his position to his willingness to cooperate with the British during the American Revolutionary War, and he retained sufficient faith in them to be the only chief who made a sustained effort to have his tribal lands protected by the forms of the white man.

L. F. S. Upton

PANB, RG 2, RS8, Indians 1/1, Benjamin Marston, Report, 29 Aug. 1785; RG 10, RS 107/1/4: 13; 107/1/11: 26–27; RS108, Petition of John Julien, 1786; Petition of Matthew Oxford, 1805. PRO, CO 188/106: ff.206–23; CO 217/54: ff.206–7, 219–22 (mfm. at PAC). Indian-Eskimo Assoc. of Canada, Native rights in Canada (Toronto, [1970]), app.3: 16–17. L. F. S. Upton, Micmacs and colonists: Indian white relations in the Maritimes, 1713–1867 (Vancouver, 1979).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

L. F. S. Upton, “JULIEN, JOHN,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 21, 2024, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/julien_john_5E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/julien_john_5E.html
Author of Article:   L. F. S. Upton
Title of Article:   JULIEN, JOHN
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1983
Year of revision:   1983
Access Date:   May 21, 2024