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Remembering the Jay Treaty on Native American Day

In the United States, we celebrate Native American Day on the fourth Friday of September. This is a day set aside to honor and celebrate Native Americans as the first to settle in the U.S., and people are encouraged to spend the day learning more about Native American history and culture. In honor of Native American Day on Sept. 26, we will be discussing the Jay Treaty in today’s blog.
The Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, Between His Britannic Majesty and The United States of America (otherwise known as the Jay Treaty) was a 1795 treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain. This treaty was credited with averting war, resolving previous disputes and facilitating 10 years of peaceful trade between the two countries.
While the Jay Treaty successfully paved the way for both American and British objectives, it also benefited Native Americans. Article III of the treaty states, “It is agreed, that it shall at all times be free … to the Indians dwelling on either side of the said boundary line, freely to pass and repass, by land or inland navigation into the respective territories and countries of the two parties on the continent of America.” At the time, Canada was still a territory of Great Britain. This article allowed Native Americans to pass freely between the United States and Canada.
In the many years since, the United States has codified this obligation into the provisions of Section 289 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and amended in 1965. This provision states, “Native Americans born in Canada are therefore entitled to enter the United States for the purpose of employment, study, retirement, investing and/or immigration.”
Due to this treaty, American Indians born in Canada and with at least 50 percent American Indian blood cannot be denied admission to the United States. If an American Indian born in Canada would like to permanently reside in the United States, a Permanent Resident Card (or green card) can be obtained by requesting a creation of record.
It is important to note that in order to qualify, an American Indian must be able to prove their lineage through official tribal documentation. The document must establish membership in each band or tribe for the applicant and every lineal ancestor (parents and grandparents) through whom the required percentage of American Indian blood has been derived.
If you would like assistance entering the U.S. as an American Indian born in Canada, or additional information on the Jay Treaty, please schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!