The Blackfeet Treaty – Sunday Afternoon
On Sunday afternoon the Indians fought a sham battle on horseback. They only wore the breech-cloths. They fired off their rifles in all directions, and sent the bullets whistling past the spectators in such close proximity as to create most unpleasant feelings. I was heartily glad when they defiled past singly on the way back to their lodges, and the last of their unearthly yells had died away in the distance.
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were occupied in paying off the different tribes. They were paid by Inspector Winder, Sub-Inspector Denny, and Sub-Inspector Antrobus, each assisted by a constable of the Force. It was hard work to find out the correct number of each family. Many after receiving their money would return to say that they had made a wrong count; one would discover that he had another wife, another two more children, and others that they had blind mothers and lame sisters. In some cases they wanted to be paid for the babies that were expected to come soon.
On Wednesday the Chiefs presented an address to the Commissioners, expressing the entire satisfaction of the whole nation with the treaty, and to the way in which the terms had been carried out. They tendered their well wishes to the Queen, the Governor, Col. McLeod, and the Police Force. They spoke in the most flattering and enthusiastic manner of the Commissioner, Assistant-Commissioner, officers, and the Force in general, and said that it was their firm determination to adhere to the terms of the treaty, and abide by the laws of the Great Mother. Potts, the interpreter at Fort McLeod, said he never heard Indians speak out their minds so freely in his life before.
In reply, the Lieutenant Governor said he was much pleased to receive this address from the Chiefs of the great Blackfeet nation, which in fact was to the Great Mother, as the Commissioners were merely acting for her, and carrying out her wishes. He was certain she would be gratified to learn of the approval of the Chiefs and their acceptance of her offers. In return the Great Mother only required of them to abide by her laws.
Lieut. Col. McLeod said in reply:–“The Chiefs all here know what I said to them three years ago, when the Police first came to the country–that nothing would be taken away from them without their own consent. You all see today that what I told you then was true. I also told you that the Mounted Police were your friends, and would not wrong you or see you wronged in any way. This also you see is true. The Police will continue to be your friends, and be always glad to see you. On your part you must keep the Queen’s laws, and give every information to them in order that they may see the laws obeyed and offenders punished. You may still look to me as your friend, and at any time when I can do anything for your welfare, I shall only be too happy to do so. You say that I have always kept my promises. As surely as my past promises have been kept, so surely shall those made by the Commissioners be carried out in the future. If they were broken I would be ashamed to meet you or look you in the face; but every promise will be solemnly fulfilled as certainly as the sun now shines down upon us from the heavens. I shall always remember the kind manner in which you have to-day spoken of me.”
After this there was a great shaking of hands, and the Great Council ended.
On Thursday afternoon the Lieutenant Governor departed for Battleford. On leaving the grounds the usual honors were paid to him. The Commissioner left the following day for Fort Walsh to attend the Commission that was to meet the Sitting Bull.
The traders were notified that they were to cease trading and move off the reservation not later than the following Tuesday, at ten p.m. By this hour they had all departed, and at noon on the same day the Force commenced its return journey to McLeod, which was accomplished in two days and a half. All were glad to get back to headquarters, as the weather had been for some days intensely cold and the prairies covered with snow.