On the next day the conference was resumed, the chiefs and spokesmen being presented. The Indians, on being asked to express their views, “stated that there was a cloud before them which made things dark, and they did not wish to commence the proceedings till the cloud was dispersed.” On inquiry it was ascertained that they referred to the imprisonment of four Swampy Cree Indians, who had been convicted under a local law, of breach of contract, as boatmen, with the Hudson’s Bay Company, and on default of payment of a fine, had been sent to prison. The Lieutenant Governor, as a matter of favor, ordered the release of these prisoners, and the sky became clear. Next day the Indians met again and declared that they would never again raise their voice against the enforcement of the law, but much difficulty was experienced in getting them to understand the views of the Government–they wishing to have two-thirds of the Province as a reserve. Eventually on the 3rd of August, 1871, a treaty was concluded, its principal features being the relinquishment to Her Majesty of the Indian title; the reserving of tracts of land for the Indians, sufficient to furnish 160 acres of land to each family of five; providing for the maintenance of schools, and prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors on the reserves; a present of three dollars per head to the Indians and the payment to them of an annuity of three dollars per head.
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On the 21st of August Mr. Commissioner Simpson, accompanied by the Lieutenant-Governor, the Hon. James McKay, and Mr. Molyneux St. John (lately Sheriff of the North-West Territories), met the Indians at Manitoba Post, and found them disposed to accept the terms of the treaty made at the Stone Fort, with which they had already become familiar, so that little time was lost in effecting a treaty with them as they had no special terms to prefer. By these two treaties, there was acquired by the Crown, the extinguishment of the Indian title in Manitoba, and in a tract of country fully equal in resources beyond it.
Having submitted these preliminary remarks, I conclude my notice of these treaties by quoting, as matter alike of historical record and practical interest, the dispatches of Lieutenant Governor Archibald and the excellent and instructive report, addressed to the Secretary of State by Mr. Simpson, embracing as it does a full and graphic narrative of the proceedings which took place at the negotiation of these treaties, and of the difficulties which were encountered by the Commissioner, and the mode in which they were overcome.
In consequence of misunderstandings having arisen, owing to the Indians alleging that certain promises had been made to them which were not specified in these treaties, a revision of them became necessary, and was effected in 1875, as will be seen reported hereafter.