The practice of offering regular gifts to Indigenous trading partners and allies, begun by Governor Montmagny in 1648, was, by the end of the 17th century institutionalized as the "Présents du Roy" at the annual meeting with the governor-general of New France at Montréal. This distribution in Canada took place at Montréal, and after 1713 at Port Toulouse in Cape Breton for the Maritime nations. The protocol adopted the Calumet ceremony was often associated with gift-giving. The ordinary king's presents should not be confused with compensation paid to war and guiding parties, or the presents offered to seal alliances, to cross hunting territory boundaries and to obtain permission to build forts, trading posts and mission stations on lands recognized by the French administration as Indigenous property, although under French sovereignty or protectorate.

By 1702 Louis XIV became concerned that the king's presents would be regarded as obligatory payment, a kind of tribute "as the price of our friendship."In 1707 the order was given to reduce presents "little by little, until such time as they can be cut off entirely."

Instead, the amount increased each decade until the British conquest. The British decided to suspend the practice, but Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs, convinced the military regime to continue offering annual presents. The king's presents were indispensable in retaining Indigenous co-operation during the War of the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The practice continued as an essential element of the military relationship with the Indigenous peoples until 1830. It tended more and more to be replaced by the annual treaty money provided for in the various treaties of land surrender beginning in 1784.