In the year 1871, the late Honorable Joseph Howe, then Secretary of State of Canada, recommended the appointment by the Privy Council of Canada, of Mr. Wemyss McKenzie Simpson, as Indian Commissioner, in consequence of “the necessity of arranging with the bands of Indians inhabiting the tract of country between Thunder Bay and the Stone Fort, for the cession, subject to certain reserves such as they should select, of the lands occupied by them.” Mr. Simpson accepted the appointment, and in company with Messrs. S. J. Dawson and Robert Pether visited the Ojjibewa or Chippawa Indians, between Thunder Bay and the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods, and took the initiatory steps for securing a treaty with them thereafter. On his arrival at Fort Garry, he put himself, as directed by his instructions, in communication with his Honor, the Hon. A. G. Archibald, then Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and the North-West Territories. A conference took place between His Honor, Messrs. Simpson, Dawson and Pether, and the Hon. James McKay, a member, at that time, of the Executive Council of Manitoba, and himself a half-breed intimately acquainted with the Indian tribes, and possessed of much influence over them. The Indians in Manitoba, in the fall of 1870, had applied to the Lieutenant-Governor to enter into a treaty with them, and had been informed that in the ensuing year negotiations would be opened with them. They were full of uneasiness, owing to the influx of population, denied the validity of the Selkirk Treaty, and had in some instances obstructed settlers and surveyors. In view of the anxiety and uneasiness prevailing, those gentlemen were of opinion “that it was desirable to secure the extinction of the Indian title not only to the lands within Manitoba, but also to so much of the timber grounds east and north of the Province as were required for immediate entry and use, and also of a large tract of cultivable ground west of the Portage, where there were very few Indian inhabitants.” It was therefore resolved to open negotiations at the Lower Fort Garry, or Stone Fort, with the Indians of the Province, and certain adjacent timber districts, and with the Indians of the other districts at Manitoba Post, a Hudson’s Bay fort, at the north end of Lake Manitoba, the territory being occupied principally by one nation, the Chippewa, of whom the Saulteaux of the lakes are a branch, although there are also a number of Swampy Cree resident within it.
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