Mr. Simpson accordingly issued proclamations, inviting the Indians to meet him on the 25th of July and 17th of August 1871, at these points respectively, to negotiate an Indian treaty. The Lieutenant-Governor also issued a proclamation forbidding the sale or gift of intoxicating liquors during the negotiation of the treaty, and applied to Major Irvine to detail a few of the troops under his command to preserve order, which request was acceded to.
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The Lieutenant-Governor and Mr. Simpson arrived at the Stone Fort on the 24th of July, 1871, but as the Indians had not all arrived the meeting was postponed till the 27th, when a thousand Indians were found to have assembled, and a considerable number of half-breeds and other inhabitants of the country were present, awaiting with anxiety to learn the policy of the Government.
Lieutenant-Governor Archibald, after the Indians were assembled opened the proceedings by delivering the following address:
“On the 13th September last, on my first arrival in the country, I met a number of you at the mission, I told you I could not then negotiate a Treaty with the Indians, but that I was charged by your Great Mother, the Queen, to tell you that she had been very glad to see that you had acted during the troubles like good and true children of your Great Mother. I told you also that as soon as possible you would all be called together to consider the terms of a treaty to be entered into between you and your Great Mother.
“I advised you to disperse to your homes, and gave you some ammunition to enable you to gain a livelihood during the winter by hunting.
“I promised that in the spring you would be sent for, and that either I, or some person directly appointed to represent your Great Mother, should be here to meet you, and notice would be given you when to convene at this place to talk over what was right to be done.
“Early in the spring, Mr. Simpson, who sits beside me, was made Commissioner. He left his home at once for this Province, by Rainy Lake and the Lake of the Woods.
“The Indians of the lake districts meet, as you know, on Rainy River yearly, about the 20th June, to fish for sturgeon, I and they could not be called together sooner.
“Mr. Simpson met them there at that time, and talked over their affairs with them, and made certain arrangements with them. He then hurried on to see you, and reached this Province a week ago last Sunday. He then sent messengers at once to all the Indians within certain bounds, asking them to meet him here on the 25th day of July. Some of you were unable to come so soon, and he has therefore, at the instance of those who were here, waited till today to open the talk. I believe that now you are all arrived, and ready to proceed to business.
“It will be the duty of the Commissioner to talk to you on the particular details of the treaty, and I will give place to him presently, but there are one or two things of a general kind which I would like, before I close, to bring to your notice, for you to think about among yourselves.
“First. Your Great Mother, the Queen, wishes to do justice to all her children alike. She will deal fairly with those of the setting sun, just as she would with those of the rising sun. She wishes order and peace to reign through all her country, and while her arm is strong to punish the wicked man, her hand is also open to reward the good man everywhere in her Dominions.
“Your Great Mother wishes the good of all races under her sway. She wishes her red children to be happy and contented. She wishes them to live in comfort. She would like them to adopt the habits of the whites, to till land and raise food, and store it up against a time of want. She thinks this would be the best thing for her red children to do, that it would make them safer from famine and distress, and make their homes more comfortable.
“But the Queen, though she may think it good for you to adopt civilized habits, has no idea of compelling you to do so. This she leaves to your choice, and you need not live like the white man unless you can be persuaded to do so of your own free will. Many of you, however, are already doing this.
“I drove yesterday through the village below this Fort. There I saw many well-built houses, and many well-tilled fields with wheat and barley and potatoes growing, and giving promise of plenty for the winter to come. The people who till these fields and live in these houses are men of your own race, and they show that you can live and prosper and provide like the white man.
“What I say in my drive is enough to prove that even if there was not a buffalo or a fur bearing animal in the country, you could live and be surrounded with comfort by what you can raise from the soil.
“Your Great Mother, therefore, will lay aside for you ‘lots’ of land to be used by you and your children forever. She will not allow the white man to intrude upon these lots. She will make rules to keep them for you, so that as long as the sun shall shine, there shall be no Indian who has not a place that he can call his home, where he can go and pitch his camp or if he chooses build his house and till his land.
“These reserves will be large enough, but you must not expect them to be larger than will be enough to give a farm to each family, where farms shall be required. They will enable you to earn a living should the chase fail, and should you choose to get your living by tilling, you must not expect to have included in your reserve more of hay grounds than will be reasonably sufficient for your purposes in case you adopt the habits of farmers. The old settlers and the settlers that are coming in, must be dealt with on the principles of fairness and justice as well as yourselves. Your Great Mother knows no difference between any of her people. Another thing I want you to think over is this: in laying aside these reserves, and in everything else that the Queen shall do for you, you must understand that she can do for you no more than she has done for her red children in the East. If she were to do more for you that would be unjust for them. She will not do less for you because you are all her children alike, and she must treat you all alike.
“When you have made your treaty you will still be free to hunt over much of the land included in the treaty. Much of it is rocky and unfit for cultivation, much of it that is wooded is beyond the places where the white man will require to go, at all events for some time to come. Till these lands are needed for use you will be free to hunt over them, and make all the use of them which you have made in the past. But when lands are needed to be tilled or occupied, you must not go on them any more. There will still be plenty of land that is neither tilled nor occupied where you can go and roam and hunt as you have always done, and, if you wish to farm, you will go to your own reserve where you will find a place ready for you to live on and cultivate.
“There is another thing I have to say to you. Your Great Mother cannot come here herself to talk with you, but she has sent a messenger who has her confidence.
“Mr. Simpson will tell you truly all her wishes. As the Queen has made her choice of a chief to represent her, you must, on your part, point out to us the chiefs you wish to represent you, as the persons you have faith in.
“Mr. Simpson cannot talk to all your braves and people, but when he talks to chiefs who have your confidence he is talking to you all, and when he hears the voice of one of your chiefs whom you name he will hear the voice of you all. It is for you to say who shall talk for you, and also who shall be your chief men. Let them be good Indians, who know your wishes and whom you have faith in.
“You will look to the Commissioner to fulfill everything he agrees to do, and the Queen will look to the chiefs you name to us, to see that you keep your parts of the agreement.
“It is our wish to deal with you fairly and frankly.
“If you have any questions to ask, ask them, if you have anything you wish the Queen to know, speak out plainly.
“Now chiefs and braves and people, I introduce to you Mr. Simpson, who will say anything he thinks fit in addition to what I have said.
“When you hear his voice you are listening to your Great Mother the Queen, whom God bless and preserve long to reign over us.”
Mr. Simpson also addressed them, and thereafter, in compliance with a request of the Lieutenant Governor, the Indians retired to select their chiefs and principal spokesmen.