At ten in the morning the Governor and Commissioners, escorted by the Mounted Police, proceeded to the treaty tent a short distance from the fort. About eleven o’clock the Indians commenced to gather, as at Carlton, in a large semi-circle. In front were the young men, galloping about on their horses, then the Chiefs and head men, followed by the main body of the band to the number of two or three hundred. As they approached the manoeuvres of the horsemen became more and more excited and daring, racing wildly about so rapidly as to be barely distinguishable; unfortunately, from some mischance, two horses and their riders came into collision with such tremendous force as to throw both horses and men violently to the ground; both horses were severely injured and one of the Indians had his hip put out of joint; fortunately, Dr. Kittson of the police, was near by and speedily gave relief to the poor sufferer. The ceremonies, however, still went on; four pipe-stems were carried about and presented to be stroked in token of good feeling and amity (during this performance the band of the Mounted Police played “God save the Queen”), blessings invoked on the whole gathering, the dances performed by the various bands, and finally the pipes of peace smoked by the Governor and Commissioners in turn. The stems, which were finely decorated, were placed with great solemnity on the table in front of the Governor, to be covered for the bearers with blue cloth.
The Chiefs and head men now seated themselves in front of the tent, when the Governor addressed them:
“Indians of the plains, Cree, Chippewayans, Assiniboines and Chippewas, my message is to all. I am here to-day as your Governor under the Queen. The Cree for many days have sent word that they wanted to see some one face to face. The Cree are the principal tribe of the plain Indians, and it is for me a pleasant duty to be here to-day and receive the welcome I have from them. I am here because the Queen and her Councilor have the good of the Indian at heart, because you are the Queen’s children and we must think of you for to-day and to-morrow; the condition of the Indians and their future has given the Queen’s Councilor much anxiety. In the old provinces of Canada from which I came we have many Indians, they are growing in numbers and are as a rule happy and prosperous; for a hundred years red and white hands have been clasped together in peace. The instructions of the Queen are to treat the Indians as brothers, and so we ought to be. The Great Spirit made this earth we are on. He planted the trees and made the rivers flow for the good of all his people, white and red; the country is very wide and there is room for all. It is six years since the Queen took back into her own hands the government of her subjects, red and white, in this country; it was thought her Indian children would be better cared for in her own hand. This is the seventh time in the last five years that her Indian children have been called together for this purpose; this is the fourth time that I have met my Indian brothers, and standing here on this bright day with the sun above us, I cast my eyes to the East down to the great lakes and I see a broad road leading from there to the Red River, I see it stretching on to Ellice, I see it branching there, the one to Qu’Appelle and Cypress Hills, the other by Pelly to Carlton; it is a wide and plain trail. Anyone can see it, and on that road, taking for the Queen, the hand of the Governor and Commissioners I see all the Indians. I see the Queen’s Councilor taking the Indian by the hand saying we are brothers, we will lift you up, we will teach you, if you will learn, the cunning of the white man. All along that road I see Indians gathering, I see gardens growing and houses building; I see them receiving money from the Queen’s Commissioners to purchase clothing for their children; at the same time I see them enjoying their hunting and fishing as before, I see them retaining their old mode of living with the Queen’s gift in addition.
“I met the Cree at Carlton, they heard my words there, they read my face, and through that my heart, and said my words were true, and they took my hand on behalf of the Queen. What they did I wish you to do; I wish you to travel on the road I have spoken of, a road I see stretching out broad and plain to the Rocky Mountains. I know you have been told many stories, some of them not true; do not listen to the bad voices of men who have their own ends to serve, listen rather to those who have only your good at heart. I have come a long way to meet you; last year I sent you a message that you would be met this year, and I do not forget my promises.
“I went to Ottawa, where the Queen’s Councilor have their council chamber, to talk, amongst other things, about you.
“I have come seven hundred miles to see you. Why should I take all this trouble? For two reasons, first, the duty was put upon me as one of the Queen’s Councilor, to see you with my brother Commissioners, Hon. W. J. Christie and Hon. Jas. McKay. The other reason is a personal one, because since I was a young man my heart was warm to the Indians, and I have taken a great interest in them; for more than twenty-five years I have studied their condition in the present and in the future. I have been many years in public life, but the first words I spoke in public were for the Indians, and in that vision of the day I saw the Queen’s white men understanding their duty; I saw them understanding that they had no right to wrap themselves up in a cold mantle of selfishness, that they had no right to turn away and say, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ On the contrary, I saw them saying, the Indians are our brothers, we must try to help them to make a living for themselves and their children. I tell you, you must think of those who will come after you. As I came here I saw tracks leading to the lakes and water-courses, once well beaten, now grown over with grass; I saw bones bleaching by the wayside; I saw the places where the buffalo had been, and I thought what will become of the Indian. I said to myself, we must teach the children to prepare for the future; if we do not, but a few suns will pass and they will melt away like snow before the sun in spring-time. You know my words are true; you see for yourselves and know that your numbers are lessening every year. Now the whole burden of my message from the Queen is that we wish to help you in the days that are to come, we do not want to take away the means of living that you have now, we do not want to tie you down; we want you to have homes of your own where your children can be taught to raise for themselves food from the mother earth. You may not all be ready for that, but some, I have no doubt, are, and in a short time others will follow. I am here to talk plainly, I have nothing to hide; I am here to tell you what we are ready to do. Your tribe is not all here at the present time, some of the principal Chiefs are absent, this cannot be avoided, the country is wide and when the buffalo come near you must follow them; this does not matter, for what I have to give is for the absent as well as for the present. Next year if the treaty is made, a Commissioner will be sent to you, and you will be notified of the times and places of meeting, so that you will not have long journeys; after that, two or three servants of the Queen will be appointed to live in the country to look after the Indians, and see that the terms of the treaty are carried out.
“I have not yet given you my message. I know you have heard what your brothers did at Carlton, and I expect you to do the same here, for if you do not you will be the first Indians who refused to take my hand. At Carlton I had a slight difficulty; one of the Chiefs dreamt that instead of making the treaty at the camp of the great body of the Indians, I made it at his, and so his people stood aside. I was sorry for him and his people. I did not wish to go and leave them out. I sent him word after I had made the treaty, and brought him in with the others. When I went to North-West Angle I met the Chippewa nation; they were not all present, but the absent ones were seen the next year. I told them the message from the Queen, and what she wished to do for them; in all four thousand Indians accepted the Treaty, and now, I am glad to say, many of them have homes and gardens of their own. The next year I went to Qu’Appelle and saw the Cree and Chippewas, and there five thousand understood us and took our hands. Last summer I went with Mr. McKay to Lake Winnipeg, and there all the Swampy Cree accepted the Queen’s terms. Now I have stroked the pipe with your brothers at Carlton as with you.
“Three years ago a party of Assiniboines were shot by American traders; men, women and children were killed; we reported the affair to Ottawa; we said the time has come when you must send the red-coated servants of the Queen to the North-West to protect the Indian from fire-water, from being shot down by men who know no law, to preserve peace between the Indians, to punish all who break the law, to prevent whites from doing wrong to Indians, and they are here to-day to do honor to the office which I hold. Our Indian Chiefs wear red coats, and wherever they meet the police they will know they meet friends. I know that you have been told that if war came you would be put in the front, this is not so. Your brothers at Carlton asked me that they might not be forced to fight, and I tell you, as I assured them, you will never be asked to fight against your will; and I trust the time will never come of war between the Queen and the great country near us.
“Again, I say, all we seek is your good; I speak openly, as brother to brother, as a father to his children, and I would give you a last advice, hear my words, come and join the great band of Indians who are walking hand-in-hand with us on the road I spoke of when I began–a road, I believe in my heart, will lead the Indian on to a much more comfortable state than he is in now. My words, when they are accepted, are written down, and they last, as I have said to the others, as long as the sun shines and the river runs. I expect you are prepared for the message I have to deliver, and I will wait to see if any of the Chiefs wish to speak before I go further.”
Sweet Grass, the principal Cree Chief, rose, and taking the Governor by the hand, said, “We have heard what the Governor has said, and now the Indians want to hear the terms of the treaty, after which they will all shake hands with the Governor and Commissioners, we then want to go to our camp to meet in council.”
The Governor then very carefully and distinctly explained the terms and promises of the treaty as made at Carlton; this was received by the Indians with loud assenting exclamations.
On the 8th the Indians sent a message that they required further time for deliberation, and the meeting was put off until the 9th.
On the morning of the 9th the Indians were slow in gathering, as they wished to settle all difficulties and misunderstandings amongst themselves before coming to the treaty tent, this was apparently accomplished about eleven a.m., when the whole body approached and seated themselves in good order, when the Governor said:–
“Indian children of the Great Queen, we meet again on a bright day; you heard many words from me the other day; I delivered you my message from the Queen; I held out my hand in the Queen’s name, full of her bounty. You asked time to consult together; I gave it to you very gladly, because I did not come here to surprise you. I trust the Great Spirit has put good thoughts into your hearts, and your wise men have found my words good. I am now ready to hear whether you are prepared to do as the great body of the Indian people have done; it is now for the Indians to speak through those whom they may choose; my heart is warm to you, and my ears are open.”
Ku-ye-win (The Eagle) addressed the Indians, telling them not to be afraid, that the Governor was to them as a brother; that what the Queen wished to establish through him was for their good, and if any of them wished to speak to do so.
After waiting some time the Governor said, “I had hoped the Indians would have taken me at my word, and taken me as a brother and a friend. True, I am the Queen’s Governor; that I am here to-day shows me to be your friend. Why can you not open your hearts to me? I have met many Indians before, but this is the first time I have had all the talking to do myself. Now, cast everything behind your backs, and speak to me face to face. I have offered as we have done to the other Indians. Tell me now whether you will take my hand and accept it; there is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be afraid of; think of the good of your children and your children’s children. Stand up now like wise men and tell me if you will take what I offered. I cannot believe it to be possible that you would throw my hand back. Speak and do not be afraid or ashamed.”
WEE-KAS-KOO-KEE-SAY-YIN (Sweet Grass)–”I thank you for this day, and also I thank you for what I have seen and heard, I also thank the Queen for sending you to act for our good. I am glad to have a brother and friend in you, which undoubtedly will raise us above our present condition. I am glad for your offers, and thank you from my heart. I speak this in the presence of the Divine Being. It is all for our good, I see nothing to be afraid of, I therefore accept of it gladly and take your hand to my heart, may this continue as long as this earth stands and the river flows. The Great King, our Father, is now looking upon us this day, He regards all the people equal with one another; He has mercy on the whole earth; He has opened a new world to us. I have pity on all those who have to live by the buffalo. If I am spared until this time next year I want this my brother to commence to act for me, thinking thereby that the buffalo may be protected. It is for that reason I give you my hand. If spared, I shall commence at once to clear a small piece of land for myself, and others of my kinsmen will do the same. We will commence hand in hand to protect the buffalo. When I hold your hand I feel as if the Great Father were looking on us both as brothers. I am thankful. May this earth here never see the white man’s blood spilt on it. I thank God that we stand together, that you all see us; I am thankful that I can raise up my head, and the white man and red man can stand together as long as the sun shines. When I hold your hands and touch your heart, as I do now (suiting his action to the words), let us be as one. Use your utmost to help me and help my children, so that they may prosper.”
The Chief’s remarks were assented to by the Indians by loud ejaculations.
GOVERNOR–”I rise with a glad heart; we have come together and understood each other. I am glad that you have seen the right way. I am glad you have accepted so unanimously the offer made. I will tell the Queen’s Councilor what good hearts their Indian children have; I will tell them that they think of the good of their children’s children.
“I feel that we have done to-day a good work; the years will pass away and we with them, but the work we have done to-day will stand as the hills. What we have said and done has been written down; my promises at Carlton have been written down and cannot be rubbed out, so there can be no mistake about what is agreed upon. I will now have the terms of the treaty fully read and explained to you, and before I go away I will leave a copy with your principal Chief.
“After I and the Commissioners, for the Queen, have signed the treaty, I will call upon your Chief and Councilor to do the same; and before the payments are made by Mr. Christie, I will give the Chiefs the medals of the Queen and their flags.
“Some of your Chiefs and people are away; next year we will send men near to where their bands live, notice will be given, and those who are away now will receive the present of money we are going to give you, the same as if they had been here, and when you go back to the plains I ask you to tell your brothers what we have done.”
The Governor and Commissioners then signed the treaty on the part of the Queen, and nine Chiefs and as many of their Councilor as were with them signed on behalf of the Indians.
James Seenum, Chief of White Fish Lake Cree, said that when he commenced to cultivate the soil some years ago, Mr. Christie, then chief factor of the Hudson Bay Company, gave him a plough that he had used but it was now broken. When he commenced he and his brothers drew the plough themselves, and they pulled up roots and used them for hoes. Mr. Christie also gave me a pit-saw and a grindstone, and I am using them yet. I feel my heart sore in the spring when my children want to plough–when they have no implements to use, that is why I am asking them now to have them sent as soon as possible. By following what I have been taught I find it helps me a great deal.
THE LITTLE HUNTER–”I am here alone just now; if I am spared to see next spring, then I will select my Councilor, those that I think worthy I will choose. I am glad from my very heart. I feel in taking the Governor’s hand as if I was taking the Queen’s. When I hear her words that she is going to put to rights this country, it is the help of God that has put it in her heart to come to our assistance. In sending her bounty to us I wish an everlasting grasp of her hand, as long as the sun moves and the river flows. I am glad that the truth and all good things have been opened to us. I am thankful for the children for they will prosper. All the children who are sitting here hope that the Great Spirit will look down upon us as one.”
SEE-KAHS-KOOTCH (The Cut Arm)–”I am glad of the goodness of the great Queen. I recognize now that this that I once dreaded most is coming to my aid and doing for me what I could not do for myself.”
TUS-TUK-EE-SKUAIS–”I am truly glad that the Queen has made a new country for me. I am glad that all my friends and children will not be in want of food hereafter. I am glad that we have everything which we had before still extended to us.”
PEE-QUAY-SIS–”I need not say anything; I have been well pleased with all that I have heard, and I need not speak as we are all agreed.”
KIN-OO-SAY-OO (The Fish), Chief of the Chippewayans–”I shake hands with the Queen, and I am glad for what she is doing and what she is to do for us. If I could have used my own language I would then be able to say more.”
The Governor then called on Sweet Grass and placed the Queen’s medal around his neck, the band of the Police playing “God save the Queen.” The rest of the Chiefs’ medals, flags and uniforms were given as soon as possible, and Mr. Christie proceeded to make the payments and distribute the presents.