North-West Angle, October 1, 1873 – Mill

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GOVERNOR–“The mill is a private enterprise, and we have no power to give you boards from that.”

CHIEF–“I will now show you a medal that was given to those who made a treaty at Red River by the Commissioner. He said it was silver, but I do not think it is. I should be ashamed to carry it on my breast over my heart. I think it would disgrace the Queen, my mother, to wear her image on so base a metal as this. [Here the Chief held up the medal and struck it with the back of his knife. The result was anything but the ‘true ring,’ and made every man ashamed of the petty meanness that had been practiced.] Let the medals you give us be of silver–medals that shall be worthy of the high position our Mother the Queen occupies.”

GOVERNOR–“I will tell them at Ottawa what you have said, and how you have said it.”

CHIEF–“I wish you to understand you owe the treaty much to the Half-breeds.”

GOVERNOR–“I know it. I sent some of them to talk with you, and I am proud that all the Half-breeds from Manitoba, who are here, gave their Governor their cordial support.”

The business of the treaty having now been completed, the Chief, Mawedopenais, who, with Powhassan, had with such wonderful tact carried on the negotiations, stepped up to the Governor and said: —

“Now you see me stand before you all; what has been done here to-day has been done openly before the Great Spirit, and before the nation, and I hope that I may never hear any one say that this treaty has been done secretly; and now, in closing this Council, I take off my glove, and in giving you my hand, I deliver over my birth-right and lands; and in taking your hand, I hold fast all the promises you have made, and I hope they will last as long as the sun goes round and the water flows, as you have said.”

The Governor then took his hand and said:

“I accept your hand and with it the lands, and will keep all my promises, in the firm belief that the treaty now to be signed will bind the red man and the white together as friends for ever.”

A copy of the treaty was then prepared and duly signed, after which a large amount of presents consisting of pork, flour, clothing, blankets, twine, powder and shot, etc., were distributed to the several bands represented on the ground.

On Saturday, Mr. Pether, Local Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Fort Francis, and Mr. Graham of the Government Works, began to pay the treaty money–an employment that kept them busy far into the night. Some of the Chiefs received as much as one hundred and seventy dollars for themselves and families.

As soon as the money was distributed the shops of the H. B. Co., and other resident traders were visited, as well as the tents of numerous private traders, who had been attracted thither by the prospect of doing a good business. And while these shops all did a great trade–the H. B. Co. alone taking in $4,000 in thirty hours–it was a noticeable fact that many took home with them nearly all their money. When urged to buy goods there, a frequent reply was: “If we spend all our money here and go home and want debt, we will be told to get our debt where we spent our money.” “Debt” is used by them instead of the word “credit.” Many others deposited money with white men and Half-breeds on whose honor they could depend, to be called for and spent at Fort Garry when “the ground froze.”

One very wonderful thing that forced itself on the attention of every one was the perfect order that prevailed throughout the camp, and which more particularly marked proceedings in the council. Whether the demands put forward were granted by the Governor or not, there was no petulance, no ill-feeling, evinced; but everything was done with a calm dignity that was pleasing to behold, and which might be copied with advantage by more pretentious deliberative assemblies.

On Sunday afternoon, the Governor presented an ox to the nation, and after it had been eaten a grand dance was indulged in. Monday morning the river Indians took passage on the steamer for Fort Francis, and others left in their canoes for their winter quarters.

The Governor and party left on Monday morning, the troops, under command of Captain McDonald, who had conducted themselves with the greatest propriety, and had contributed, by the moral effect of their presence, much to the success of the negotiation, having marched to Fort Garry on Saturday morning.

MLA Source Citation:

Morris, Alexander. The Treaties With The Indians Of Manitoba The NorthWest Territories And KeeWaTin In The Dominion Of Canada. Toronto: Belford, Clarke & Co. 1880. Web. 31 January 2015. - Last updated on Jul 2nd, 2013

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