The Treaties At Forts Carlton And Pitt – 19th of August
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The Lieutenant-Governor and Commissioners, with the Mounted Police escort, headed by their band, proceeded to the camp to meet the Indians at 10:30 a.m. The Indians having assembled in regular order with their two leading Chiefs, Mis-tah-wah-sis and Ah-tuck-ah-coop seated in front, the Governor said:
“My friends, we have another bright day before us, and I trust that when it closes our faces will continue as bright as the day before us. I spoke yesterday as a friend to friends, as a brother to brothers, as a father to his children. I did not want to hurry you, I wanted you to think of my words, and now I will be glad if you will do as I asked you then, present your Chiefs to me, and I shall be glad to hear the words of the Indians through the voice of their Chiefs, or whoever they may appoint.”
The head men then brought forward Mis-tah-wah-sis, of the Carlton Indians, representing seventy-six lodges. Ah-tuck-ah-coop, of the Wood Indians, representing about seventy lodges. These were acknowledged as the leading Chiefs, after them came James Smith, of the Fort-a-la-Corne Indians, fifty lodges. John Smith, of the Prince Albert and South Branch Indians, fifty lodges. The Chip-ee-wayan, of the Plain Indians, sixty lodges. Yah-yah-tah-kus-kin-un, of the Fishing or Sturgeon lake Indians, twenty lodges. Pee-yahan-kah-mihk-oo-sit, thirty lodges. Wah-wee-kah-nich-kah-oh-tah-mah-hote, of the River Indians, fifty lodges.
Here a messenger came from the Indians under Chief Beardy, camped at Duck Lake, eight miles from the main camp. He shook hands with the Governor and said, “I am at a loss at this time what to say, for the Indians’ mind cannot be all the same, that is why I came to tell the Governor the right of it; with a good heart I plead at this time, it is not my own work, I would like to know his mind just now and hear the terms of the treaty.”
The Governor said in reply: “If your Chief and his people had been in their places here, they would have heard with the rest what I had to say. You refused to meet me here, yet you sent and asked me to give you provisions, but I refused to do so unless you joined the others; and now I will not tell my message to this messenger until I tell all the rest; he can hear with the rest and take back my words to his chief.” The messenger expressed himself satisfied, and took his seat with the others.
On the Indians expressing themselves ready to hear the message, the Governor said:
“First I wish to talk to you about what I regard as something affecting the lives of yourselves and the lives of your children. Often when I thought of the future of the Indian my heart was sad within me. I saw that the large game was getting scarcer and scarcer, and I feared that the Indians would melt away like snow in spring before the sun. It was my duty as Governor to think of them, and I wondered if the Indians of the plains and lakes could not do as their brothers where I came from did. And now, when I think of it, I see a bright sky before me. I have been nearly four years working among my Indian brothers, and I am glad indeed to find that many of them are seeking to have homes of their own, having gardens and sending their children to school.
“Last spring I went to see some of the Chippewa, this year I went again and I was glad to see houses built, gardens planted and wood cut for more houses. Understand me, I do not want to interfere with your hunting and fishing. I want you to pursue it through the country, as you have heretofore done; but I would like your children to be able to find food for themselves and their children that come after them. Sometimes when you go to hunt you can leave your wives and children at home to take care of your gardens.
“I am glad to know that some of you have already begun to build and to plant; and I would like on behalf of the Queen to give each band that desires it a home of their own; I want to act in this matter while it is time. The country is wide and you are scattered, other people will come in. Now unless the places where you would like to live are secured soon there might be difficulty. The white man might come and settle on the very place where you would like to be. Now what I and my brother Commissioners would like to do is this: we wish to give each band who will accept of it a place where they may live; we wish to give you as much or more land than you need; we wish to send a man that surveys the land to mark it off, so you will know it is your own, and no one will interfere with you. What I would propose to do is what we have done in other places. For every family of five a reserve to themselves of one square mile. Then, as you may not all have made up your minds where you would like to live, I will tell you how that will be arranged: we would do as has been done with happiest results at the North-West Angle. We would send next year a surveyor to agree with you as to the place you would like.
“There is one thing I would say about the reserves. The land I name is much more than you will ever be able to farm, and it may be that you would like to do as your brothers where I came from did.
“They, when they found they had too much land, asked the Queen to it sell for them; they kept as much as they could want, and the price for which the remainder was sold was put away to increase for them, and many bands now have a yearly income from the land.
“But understand me, once the reserve is set aside, it could not be sold unless with the consent of the Queen and the Indians; as long as the Indians wish, it will stand there for their good; no one can take their homes.
“Of course, if when a reserve is chosen, a white man had already settled there, his rights must be respected. The rights and interests of the whites and half-breeds are as dear to the Queen as those of the Indians. She deals justly by all, and I am sure my Indian brothers would like to deal with others as they would have others to deal with them. I think you can now understand the question of homes.
“When the Indians settle on a reserve and have a sufficient number of children to be taught, the Queen would maintain a school. Another thing, that affects you all, some of you have temptations as the white men have, and therefore the fire-water which does so much harm will not be allowed to be sold or used in the reserve. Then before I leave the question of reserves I will tell you how we will help you to make your homes there. We would give to every family actually cultivating the soil the following articles, viz., two hoes, one spade, one scythe, one axe, and then to help in breaking the land, one plough and two harrows for every ten families; and to help you to put up houses we give to each Chief for his band, one chest of carpenter’s tools, one cross-cut saw, five hand saws, one pit saw and files, five augers and one grindstone. Then if a band settles on its reserves the people will require something to aid them in breaking the soil. They could not draw the ploughs themselves, therefore we will give to each Chief for the use of his band one or two yokes of oxen according to the number in the band. In order to encourage the keeping of cattle we would give each band a bull and four cows; having all these things we would give each band enough potatoes, oats, barley and wheat for seed to plant the land actually broken. This would be done once for all to encourage them to grow for themselves.
“Chiefs ought to be respected, they ought to be looked up to by their people; they ought to have good Councilor; the Chiefs and Councilor should consult for the good of the people; the Queen expects Indians and whites to obey her laws; she expects them to live at peace with other Indians and with the white men; the Chiefs and Councilor should teach their people so, and once the Queen approves a Chief or Councillor he cannot be removed unless he behaves badly.
“The Chiefs and head men are not to be lightly put aside. When a treaty is made they become servants of the Queen; they are to try and keep order amongst their people. We will try to keep order in the whole country.
“A Chief has his braves; you see here the braves of our Queen, and why are they here? To see that no white man does wrong to the Indian. To see that none give liquor to the Indian. To see that the Indians do no harm to each other. Three years ago some Americans killed some Indians; when the Queen’s Councilor heard of it they said, we will send men there to protect the Indians, the Queen’s subjects shall not be shot down by the Americans; now you understand why the police force is in this country, and you should rejoice.
“I have said a Chief was to be respected; I wear a uniform because I am an officer of the Queen, the officers of the police wear uniforms as servants of the Queen. So we give to Chiefs and Councilor good and suitable uniform indicating their office, to wear on these and other great days.
“We recognize four head men to each large band and two to each small one.
“I have always been much pleased when Indians came to me and showed me medals given to their grandfathers and transmitted to them; now we have with us silver medals that no Chief need be ashamed to wear, and I have no doubt that when the Chiefs are gone, they will be passed on to their children. In addition each Chief will be given a flag to put over his lodge to show that he is a Chief.
“I told you yesterday that I and my brother Commissioners were not here as traders.
“There is one thing I ought to have mentioned in addition to what I have already named, that is, if a treaty is made here and at Fort Pitt, we will give every year to the Indians included in it, one thousand five hundred dollars’ worth of ammunition and twine.
“You think only for yourselves, we have to think of the Indians all over the country, we cannot treat one better than another, it would not be just, we will therefore do this, and what I tell you now is the last.
“When the treaty is closed, if it be closed, we will make a present to every man, woman and child, of twelve dollars, the money being paid to the head of a family for his wife, and children not married.
“To each Chief, instead of twelve, we give twenty-five dollars, and to each head man fifteen dollars, their wives and children getting the same as the others. I told you also that what I was promising was not for to-day or to-morrow only, but should continue as long as the sun shone and the river flowed. My words will pass away and so will yours, so I always write down what I promise, that our children may know what we said and did. Next year I shall send copies of what is written in the treaty, printed on skin, so that it cannot rub out nor be destroyed, and one shall be given to each Chief so that there may be no mistakes.
“Then I promise to do as we have done with all before from Cypress Hills to Lake Superior, the Queen will agree to pay yearly five dollars per head for every man, woman and child. I cannot treat you better than the others, but I am ready to treat you as well.
“A little thing I had forgotten, and I have done. The Chiefs’ and head men’s coats will wear out, they are meant to be worn when it is necessary to show that they are officers of the Queen, and every third year they will be replaced by new ones.
“And now, Indians of the plains, I thank you for the open ear you have given me; I hold out my hand to you full of the Queen’s bounty and I hope you will not put it back. We hate no object but to discharge our duty to the Queen and towards you. Now that my hand is stretched out to you, it is for you to say whether you will take it and do as I think you ought–act for the good of your people.
“What I have said has been in the face of the people. These things will hold good next year for those that are now away. I have done. What do you say?”
MIS-TAH-WAH-SIS here came forward, shook hands with the Governor, and said:–“We have heard all he has told us, but I want to tell him how it is with us as well; when a thing is thought of quietly, probably that is the best way. I ask this much from him this day that we go and think of his words.”
The Governor and Commissioners agreed to the request and asked the Indians to meet them Monday morning at ten o’clock with as little delay as possible.
Before parting, the Governor said to the Indians, “This is a great day for us all. I have proposed on behalf of the Queen what I believe to be for your good, and not for yours only, but for that of your children’s children, and when you go away think of my words. Try to understand what my heart is towards you. I will trust that we may come together hand to hand and heart to heart again. I trust that God will bless this bright day for our good, and give your Chiefs and Councilor wisdom so that you will accept the words of your Governor. I have said.”
Sunday, August 20th.
Divine service, which was largely attended, was held in the square of Fort Carlton, by the Rev. John McKay, at half-past ten a.m.
At noon a message came from the encampment of Indians requesting the Rev. Mr. McKay to hold service with them, which he did in the afternoon, preaching in their own tongue to a congregation of over two hundred adult Cree.
Monday, August 21st.
The principal Chief sent a message that as the Indians had held no Council on Sunday, they wished to have Monday to themselves and would if ready meet the Commissioners on Tuesday morning.