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Shortly after the business had commenced, proceedings were interrupted by the loud talking of a Chippewa, who was addressing the Indians gathered in front of the tent. The Governor said, “There was an Indian, a Chippewa, stood and spoke to you, he did not speak to his Governor as he should have done: I am willing to hear what any band has to say, but they must speak to me. I have been talking to the Cree for several days. I wish to go on with the work; if the Chippewa want to talk with me I will hear them afterwards. They are a little handful of strangers from the east, I have treated with their whole nation, they are not wiser than their people.
“There are many reasons why business should go on; I hear that the buffalo are near you and you want to be off to your hunt; there are many mouths here to feed and provisions are getting low; now my friends I am ready to hear you.”
TEE-TEE-QUAY-SAY–“Listen to me, my friends, all you who are sitting around here, and you will soon hear what the interpreter has to say for us.”
The interpreter then read a list of the things the Indians had agreed in council to ask, viz.:–One ox and cow for each family. Four hoes, two spades, two scythes and a whetstone for each family. Two axes, two hay forks, two reaping hooks, one plough and one harrow for every three families. To each Chief one chest of tools as proposed. Seed of every kind in full to every one actually cultivating the soil. To make some provision for the poor, unfortunate, blind and lame. To supply us with a minister and school teacher of whatever denomination we belong to. To prevent fire-water being sold in the whole Saskatchewan.
As the tribe advances in civilization, all agricultural implements to be supplied in proportion.
When timber becomes scarcer on the reserves we select for ourselves, we want to be free lo take it anywhere on the common. If our choice of a reserve does not please us before it is surveyed we want to be allowed to select another. We want to be at liberty to hunt on any place as usual. If it should happen that a Government bridge or scow is built on the Saskatchewan at any place, we want passage free. One boar, two sows, one horse, harness and waggon for each Chief. One cooking stove for each Chief. That we be supplied with medicines free of cost. That a hand-mill be given to each band. Lastly in case of war occurring in the country, we do not want to be liable to serve in it.
TEE-TEE-QUAY-SAY then continued–“When we look back to the past we do not see where the Cree nation has ever watered the ground with the white man’s blood, he has always been our friend and we his; trusting to the Giver of all good, to the generosity of the Queen, and to the Governor and his Councilor, we hope you will grant us this request.”
WAH-WEE-KAH-NIHK-KAH-OO-TAH-MAH-HOTE (the man you strike in the back)–“Pity the voice of the Indian, if you grant what we request the sound will echo through the land; open the way; I speak for the children that they may be glad; the land is wide, there is plenty of room. My mouth is full of milk, I am only as a sucking child; I am glad; have compassion on the manner in which I was brought up; let our children be clothed; let us now stand in the light of day to see our way on this earth; long ago it was good when we first were made, I wish the same were back again. But now the law has come, and in that I wish to walk. What God has said, and our mother here (the earth), and these our brethren, let it be so.”
To this the Governor replied–“Indians, I made you my offer. You have asked me now for many things, some of which were already promised. You are like other Indians I have met, you can ask very well. You are right in asking, because you are saying what is in your minds. I have had taken down a list of what you have asked, and I will now consult with my brother Commissioners and give you my answer in a little while.”
After consultation, the Governor again had the Indians assembled, and said–“I am ready now to answer you, but understand well, it is not to be talked backwards and forwards. I am not going to act like a man bargaining for a horse for you. I have considered well what you have asked for, and my answer will be a final one. I cannot grant everything you ask, but as far as I can go I will, and when done I can only say you will be acting to your own interests if you take my hand.
“I will speak of what you asked yesterday and to-day. I told you yesterday that if any great sickness or general famine overtook you, that on the Queen being informed of it by her Indian agent, she in her goodness would give such help as she thought the Indians needed. You asked for help when you settled on your reserves during the time you were planting. You asked very broadly at first. I think the request you make now is reasonable to a certain extent; but help should be given after you settle on the reserve for three years only, for after that time you should have food of your own raising, besides all the things that are given to you; this assistance would only be given to those actually cultivating the soil. Therefore, I would agree to give every spring, for three years, the sum of one thousand dollars to assist you in buying provisions while planting the ground. I do this because you seem anxious to make a living for yourselves, it is more than has been done anywhere else; I must do it on my own responsibility, and trust to the other Queen’s Councilor to ratify it.
“I will now answer what you had written down and asked to-day. I expect you to be reasonable, none of us get all our own way. You asked first for four hoes, two spades, two scythes and whetstone, two axes, two hay forks and two reaping hooks for every family. I am willing to give them to every family actually cultivating the soil, for if given to all it would only encourage idleness. You ask a plough and harrow for every three families; I am willing to give them on the same conditions. The carpenters’ tools, as well as the seed grain, were already promised. I cannot undertake the responsibility of promising provision for the poor, blind and lame. In all parts of the Queen’s dominions we have them; the poor whites have as much reason to be helped as the poor Indian; they must be left to the charity and kind hearts of the people. If you are prosperous yourselves you can help your unfortunate brothers.
“You ask for school teachers and ministers. With regard to ministers I cannot interfere. There are large societies formed for the purpose of sending the gospel to the Indians. The Government does not provide ministers anywhere in Canada. I had already promised you that when you settled down, and there were enough children, schools would be maintained. You see missionaries here on the ground, both Roman Catholic and Protestant; they have been in the country for many years. As it has been in the past, so it will be again, you will not be forgotten.
“The police force is here to prevent the selling or giving of liquor to the Indians. The Queen has made a strong law against the fire-water; and the Councilor of the country have made a law against the use of poison for animals.
“You can have no difficulty in choosing your reserves; be sure to take a good place so that there will be no need to change; you would not be held to your choice until it was surveyed.
“You want to be at liberty to hunt as before. I told you we did not want to take that means of living from you, you have it the same as before, only this, if a man, whether Indian or Half-breed, had a good field of grain, you would not destroy it with your hunt. In regard to bridges and scows on which you want passage free, I do not think it likely that the Government will build any, they prefer to leave it to private enterprise to provide these things.
“In case of war you ask not to be compelled to fight. I trust there will be no war, but if it should occur I think the Queen would leave you to yourselves. I am sure she would not ask her Indian children to fight for her unless they wished, but if she did call for them and their wives and children were in danger they are not the men I think them to be, if they did not come forward to their protection.
“A medicine chest will be kept at the house of each Indian agent, in case of sickness amongst you. I now come to two requests which I shall have to change a little, you have to think only of yourselves, we have to think of all the Indians and of the way in which we can procure the money to purchase all these things the Indians require. The Queen’s Councilor will have to pay every year to help the Indians a very large sum of money.
“I offered you to each band, according to size, two or four oxen, also one bull and four cows, and now you ask for an ox and a cow for each family. I suppose in this treaty there will be six hundred families, so it would take very much money to grant these things, and then all the other Indians would want them, so we cannot do it: but that you may see it that we are anxious to have you raise animals of your own we will give you for each band four oxen, one bull, six cows, one boar and two pigs. After a band has settled on a reserve and commenced to raise grain, we will give them a hand-mill.
“At first we heard of only two Chiefs, now they are becoming many. You ask a cooking-stove for each, this we cannot give; he must find a way of cooking for himself. And now, although I fear I am going too far, I will grant the request that each Chief be furnished with a horse, harness, and waggon.
“I have answered your requests very fully, and that there may be no mistake as to what we agree upon, it will be written down, and I will leave a copy with the two principal Chiefs, and as soon as it can be properly printed I will send copies to the Chiefs so that they may know what is written, and there can be no mistake.
“It now rests with you, my friends, and I ask you without any hesitation to take what I have offered you.”
AH-TUCK-AH-COOP–“I never sent a letter to the Governor; I was waiting to meet him, and what we have asked we considered would be for the benefit of our children. I am not like some of my friends who have sent their messages down, even stretched out their hands to the Queen asking her to come; I have always said to my people that I would wait to see the Governor arrive, then he would ask what would benefit his children; now I ask my people, those that are in favour of the offer, to say so.”
They all assented by holding up their hands and shouting.
OO-PEE-TOO-KORAH-HAIR-AP-EE-WEE-YIN (The Pond-maker)–“I do not differ from my people, but I want more explanation. I heard what you said yesterday, and I thought that when the law was established in this country it would be for our good. From what I can hear and see now, I cannot understand that I shall be able to clothe my children and feed them as long as sun shines and water runs. With regard to the different Chiefs who are to occupy the reserves, I expected they would receive sufficient for their support, this is why I speak. In the presence of God and the Queen’s representative I say this, because I do not know how to build a house for myself, you see how naked I am, and if I tried to do it my naked body would suffer; again, I do not know how to cultivate the ground for myself, at the same time I quite understand what you have offered to assist us in this.”
JOSEPH THOMA proposed to speak for The Red Pheasant, Chief of Battle River Indians–“This is not my own desire that I speak now, it is very hard we cannot all be of one mind. You know some were not present when the list of articles mentioned was made, there are many things overlooked in it; it is true that what has been done this morning is good. What has been overlooked I will speak about. The one that is next to the Chief (first head man) should have had a horse as well. I want the Governor to give us somebody to build our houses, we cannot manage it ourselves, for my own part you see my crippled hand. It is true the Governor says he takes the responsibility on himself in granting the extra requests of the Indians, but let him consider on the quality of the land he has already treated for. There is no farming land whatever at the north-west angle, and he goes by what he has down there. What I want, as he has said, is twenty-five dollars to each Chief and to his head men twenty dollars. I do not want to keep the lands nor do I give away, but I have set the value. I want to ask as much as will cover the skin of the people, no more nor less. I think what he has offered is too little. When you spoke you mentioned ammunition, I did not hear mention of a gun; we will not be able to kill anything simply by setting fire to powder. I want a gun for each Chief and head man, and I want ten miles around the reserve where I may be settled. I have told the value I have put on my land.”
GOVERNOR–“I have heard what has been said on behalf of the Red Pheasant. I find fault that when there was handed me a list from the Indians, the Red Pheasant sat still and led me to believe he was a party to it. What I have offered was thought of long before I saw you; it has been accepted by others more in number than you are. I am glad that so many are of our mind. I am surprised you are not all. I hold out a full hand to you, and it will be a bad day for you and your children if I have to return and say that the Indians threw away my hand. I cannot accede to the requests of the Red Pheasant. I have heard and considered the wants of Mist-ow-asis and Ah-tuck-ah-coop, and when the people were spoken to I understood they were pleased. As for the little band who are not of one mind with the great body, I am quite sure that a week will not pass on leaving this before they will regret it. I want the Indians to understand that all that has been offered is a gift, and they still have the same mode of living as before.”
Here the principal Chiefs intimated the acceptance of the proposal of the Commissioners, the Red Pheasant repudiating the demands and remarks of Joseph Thoma.
GOVERNOR–“I am happy at what we have done; I know it has been a good work; I know your hearts will be glad as the days pass. This will be the fourth time that I have done what we are going to do to-day. I thank you for your trust in me. I have had written down what I promised. For the Queen and in her name I will sign it, likewise Mr. McKay and Mr. Christie. Then I will ask the Chiefs and their head men to sign it in the presence of the witnesses, whites and Metis, around us, some of whom I will also ask to sign. What we have done has been done before the Great Spirit and in the face of the people.
“I will ask the interpreter to read to you what has been written, and before I go away I will have a copy made to leave with the principal Chiefs. The payments will be made to-morrow, the suits of clothes, medals and flags given also, besides which a present of calicoes, shirts, tobacco, pipes and other articles will be given to the Indians.”
MIS-TOW-ASIS–“I wish to speak a word for some Half-breeds who wish to live on the reserves with us, they are as poor as we are and need help.”
GOVERNOR–“How many are there?”
GOVERNOR–“The Queen has been kind to the Half-breeds of Red River and has given them much land; we did not come as messengers to the Half-breeds, but to the Indians. I have heard some Half-breeds want to take lands at Red River and join the Indians here, but they cannot take with both hands. The Half-breeds of the North-West cannot come into the Treaty. The small class of Half-breeds who live as Indians and with the Indians, can be regarded as Indians by the Commissioners, who will judge of each case on its own merits as it comes up, and will report their action to the Queen’s Councilor for their approval.”
The treaty was then signed by the Lieutenant-Governor, Hon. James McKay, Hon. W. J. Christie, Mist-ow-asis, Ah-tuck-ah-coop, and the remainder of the Chiefs and the Councilor.