North-West Angle, October 1, 1873
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The assembled Chiefs met the Governor this morning, as per agreement, and opened the proceedings of the day by expressing the pleasure they experienced at meeting the Commissioners on the present occasion. Promises had many times been made to them, and, said the speaker, unless they were now fulfilled they would not consider the broader question of the treaty.
Mr. S. J. Dawson, one of the Commissioners, reciprocated the expression of pleasure used by the Chiefs through their spokesman. He had long looked forward to this meeting, when all matters relating to the past, the present, and the future, could be disposed of so as to fix permanently the friendly relations between the Indians and the white men. It was now, he continued, some years since the white men first came to this country–they came in the first place at the head of a great military expedition; and when that expedition was passing through the country all the chiefs showed themselves to be true and loyal subjects–they showed themselves able and willing to support their Great Mother the Queen. Subsequently, when we began to open up the road, we had to call upon the Indians to assist us in doing so, and they always proved themselves very happy to help in carrying out our great schemes. He was, he continued, one of the Commission employed by the Government to treat with them and devise a scheme whereby both white men and Indians would be benefited. We made to the Indians the proposals we were authorized to make, and we have carried out these proposals in good faith. This was three years ago. What we were directed to offer we did offer, but the Indians thought it was too little, and negotiations were broken off. Since this I have done what was in my power to bring about this meeting with new terms, and consider it a very happy day that you should be assembled to meet the Governor of the Territory as representative of Her Majesty. He would explain to them the proposals he had to make. He had lived long amongst them and would advise them as a friend to take the opportunity of making arrangements with the Governor. When we arrange the general matters in question, should you choose to ask anything, I shall be most happy to explain it, as I am here all the time.
The Chief in reply said his head men and young men were of one mind, and determined not to enter upon the treaty until the promises made in the past were fulfilled, they were tired of waiting. What the Commissioners called “small matters” were great to them, and were what they wished to have settled.
The route that had been built through the country proved this, and the Commissioners promised something which they now wanted.
This was taking the Commissioners on a new tack, but Mr. Dawson promptly undertook to answer the objections. He said all these questions had been discussed before; but if he had made any promises that remained unfulfilled, he would be happy to learn their nature. The Chief replied that all the houses on the line, and all the big boats on the waters, were theirs, and they wanted to be recompensed for them.
Mr. Dawson continued, saying he was glad they had now come to a point on which they could deal. The Indians questioned the right of the Government to take wood for the steamers. This was a right which the speaker had all along told them was common to all Her Majesty’s subjects. He then referred them to the Governor if they had anything more to say on that subject. Wood on which Indians had bestowed labor was always paid for; but wood on which we had spent our own labor was ours.
His Excellency then addressed them at some length. He understood that they wanted to have the questions in which they were interested treated separately. This was not what he came there for. Wood and water were the gift of the Great Spirit, and were made alike for the good of both the white man and red man. Many of his listeners had come a long way, and he, too, had come a long way, and he wanted all the questions settled at once, by one treaty. He had a message from the Queen, but if his mouth was kept shut, the responsibility would rest on the Indians, and not with him if he were prevented from delivering it. He had authority to tell them what sum of money he could give them in hand now, and what he could give them every year; but it was for them to open his mouth. He concluded his remarks, which were forcibly delivered, with an emphatic “I have said.”
The Chief reiterated that he and his young men were determined not to go on with the treaty until the first question was disposed of. What was said about the trees and rivers was quite true, but it was the Indian’s country, not the white man’s. Following this the Governor told the Council that unless they would settle all the matters, the big and little, at once, he would not talk. He was bound by his Government, and was of the same mind to treat with them on all questions, and not on any one separately.
On seeing His Excellency so firm, and feeling that it would not do to allow any more time to pass without coming to business the Chief asked the Governor to open his mouth and tell what propositions he was prepared to make.
His Excellency then said–“I told you I was to make the treaty on the part of our Great Mother the Queen, and I feel it will be for your good and your children’s. I should have been very sorry if you had shut my mouth, if I had had to go home without opening my mouth. I should not have been a true friend of yours if I had not asked you to open my mouth. We are all children of the same Great Spirit, and are subject to the same Queen. I want to settle all matters both of the past and the present, so that the white and red man will always be friends. I will give you lands for farms, and also reserves for your own use. I have authority to make reserves such as I have described, not exceeding in all a square mile for every family of five or thereabouts. It may be a long time before the other lands are wanted, and in the meantime you will be permitted to fish and hunt over them. I will also establish schools whenever any band asks for them, so that your children may have the learning of the white man. I will also give you a sum of money for yourselves and every one of your wives and children for this year. I will give you ten dollars per head of the population and for every other year five dollars a head. But to the chief men, not exceeding two to each band, we will give twenty dollars a-year forever. I will give to each of you this year a present of goods and provisions to take you home, and I am sure you will be satisfied.”
After consultation amongst themselves, the Councilors went to have a talk about the matter and will meet the Governor to-morrow morning, when it is expected the bargain will be concluded. Of course the Indians will make some other demands.
Immediately after the adjournment as above, the Governor presented an ox to the people in camp; and the way it disappeared would have astonished the natives of any other land. Half an hour after it was led into encampment, it was cut up and boiling in fifty pots.