The Treaties At Forts Carlton And Pitt – 24th of August
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On the 24th the Commissioners again met the Indians, when I presented the Head Chiefs with their medals, uniforms and flags, and informed them that Mr. Christie would give the other Chiefs and Councilor the same in the evening.
Some half a dozen of Saulteaux then came forward, of whom I found one was from Qu’Appelle, and had been paid there, and the others did not belong to the Carlton region. I told them that I had heard that they had endeavoured to prevent me crossing the river and to prevent a treaty being made, but that they were not wiser than the whole of their nation, who had already been treated with.
They did not deny the charge, and their spokesman becoming insolent, I declined to hear them further, and they retired, some stating that they would go to Fort Pitt, which I warned them not to do.
Besides these Saulteaux, there were others present who disapproved of their proceedings, amongst them being Kis-so-way-is, already mentioned, and Pecheeto, who was the chief spokesman at Qu’Appelle, but is now a Councillor of the Fort Ellice Band.
I may mention here that the larger part of the Band to whom these other Saulteaux belonged, with the Chief Yellow Quill, gave in their adhesion to Treaty Number Four, at Fort Pelly about the time that their comrades were troubling me at Fort Carlton.
Mr. Christie then commenced the payments, assisted by Mr. McKay, of Prince Albert, and was engaged in so doing during the 24th and 25th. Amongst those paid were the few resident Saulteaux, who were accepted by the Cree Chiefs as part of their bands.
The next morning, the 26th, the whole band, headed by their Chiefs and Councilor, dressed in their uniforms, came to Carlton House to pay their farewell visit to me.
The Chiefs came forward in order, each addressing me a few remarks, and I replied briefly.
They then gave three cheers for the Queen, the Governor, one for the Mounted Police, and for Mr. Lawrence Clarke, of Carlton House, and then departed, firing guns as they went.
Considering it undesirable that so many Indians should be excluded from the treaty, as would be the case if I left the Duck Lake Indians to their own devices, I determined on sending a letter to them. I, therefore, prepared a message, inviting them to meet me at the Hon. Mr. McKay’s encampment about three miles from the large Indian encampment about half way to Duck Lake, on Monday, the 28th, if they were prepared then to accept the terms of the treaty I had made with the Carlton Indians. My letter was entrusted to Mr. Levailler, who proceeded to Duck Lake.
On entering the Indian Council room, he found they had a letter written to me by the Rev. Mr. Andre, offering to accept the terms of the treaty, if I came to Duck Lake.
The Indians sent for Mr. Andre to read my letter to them, which was received with satisfaction; both he and Mr. Levailler urged them to accept my proposal, which they agreed to do, and requested Mr. Levailler to inform me that they would go to the appointed place.
Accordingly, on the 28th, the Commissioners met the Willow Indians.
After the usual handshaking, and short speeches from two of the Chiefs, I addressed them, telling them I was sorry for the course they had pursued, and that I did not go away without giving them this opportunity to be included in the treaty.
Kah-mee-yes-too-waegs, the Beardy, spoke for the people. He said some things were too little. He was anxious about the buffalo.
Say-sway-kees wished to tell our mother, the Queen, that they were alarmed about the buffalo. It appeared as if there was only one left.
The Beardy again addressed me and said,–“You have told me what you have done with the others you will do with us. I accept the terms; no doubt it will run further, according to our numbers; when I am utterly unable to help myself I want to receive assistance.”
I replied to them, explaining, with regard to assistance that we could not support or feed the Indians, and all that we would do would be to help them to cultivate the soil.
If a general famine came upon the Indians the charity of the Government would come into exercise. I admitted the importance of steps being taken to preserve the buffalo, and assured them that it would be considered by the Governor-General and Council of the North-West Territories, to see if a wise law could be framed such as could be carried out and obeyed.
The three Chiefs and their head men then signed the treaty, and the medals and flags were distributed, when Mr. Christie intimated that he was ready to make the payments.
They then asked that this should be done at Duck Lake, but Mr. Christie informed them that, as we had to leave for Fort Pitt, this was impossible; and that, moreover their share of the unexpended provisions and the clothing and presents were at the fort, where they would require to go for them.
They then agreed to accept the payment, which was at once proceeded with.
The persistency with which these Indians clung to their endeavor to compel the Commissioners to proceed to Duck Lake was in part owing to superstition, the Chief Beardy having announced that he had a vision, in which it was made known to him that the treaty would be made there.
It was partly, also, owing to hostility to the treaty, as they endeavored to induce the Carlton Indians to make no treaty, and urge them not to sell the land, but to lend it for four years.
The good sense and intelligence of the head Chiefs led them to reject their proposals, and the Willow Indians eventually, as I have reported, accepted the treaty.
The 29th was occupied by Mr. Christie in settling accounts, taking stock of the clothing, and preparing for our departure.
An application was made to me by Toma, the Saulteaux, who took part in the proceedings on the 23rd, to sign the treaty as Chief of the Saulteaux band.
As I could not ascertain that there were sufficient families of these Indians resident in the region to be recognized as a distinct band, and as I had no evidence that they desired him to be their Chief, I declined to allow him to sign the treaty, but informed him that next year, if the Saulteaux were numerous enough, and expressed the wish that he should be Chief, he would be recognized.
He was satisfied with this, and said that next year they would come to the payments.
His daughter, a widow, with her family, was paid, but he preferred to remain until next year, as he did not wish to be paid except as a Chief.
Immediately on meeting at ten a.m., the Governor called up Mis-tow-asis and Ah-tuck-ah-coop, the two principal Chiefs, and presented their uniforms, medals and flags; after them the lesser Chiefs, their medals and flags, and told them they and their Councilor would get their uniforms in the evening from the stores. The Governor then told them that Mr. Christie would commence payments as soon as he had finished talking with the few Saulteaux; he expected the Chiefs and Councilor to assist in every way possible; if any of the Chiefs had decided where they would like to have their reserves, they could tell Mr. Christie when they went to be paid. “Now, I have only to say farewell; we have done a good work; we will never all of us meet again face to face, but I go on to my other work, feeling that I have, in the Queen’s hands, been instrumental to your good. I pray God’s blessing upon you to make you happy and prosperous, and I bid you farewell.”
The Indians intimated their pleasure by a general shout of approval, and thus broke up the conference which resulted in the Treaty with the Carlton Cree.
The Lieutenant-Governor then met the few Chippewas who came forward, and told them that they must be paid at the place where they belonged, that they could not be paid at Fort Pitt, and said, “If what I have heard is true I shall not be well pleased. I am told you are of a bad mind; you proposed to prevent me from crossing the river; [Footnote: South Saskatchewan.] if you did it was very foolish; you could no more stop me than you could the river itself. Then I am told you tried to prevent the other Indians from making the treaty. I tell you this to your faces so if it is not true you can say so; but whether it is or not it makes no difference in my duty. The Queen has made treaties with the whole Chippewa nation except two or three little wandering bands such as you; you have heard all that has been said and done these many days; I would like to see you helped as well as the other Indians; I do not think you are wiser than the Chippewas from Lake Superior to the North-West Angle; I went there with Mr. McKay, and we made a treaty with twenty Chiefs and four thousand Chippewas.”
NUS-WAS-OO-WAH-TUM–“When we asked the Cree bands what they intended to do with regard to the treaty they would not come to us; it is true we told them ‘do not be in a hurry in giving your assent;’ you ought to be detained a little while; all along the prices have been to one side, and we have had no say. He that made us provided everything for our mode of living; I have seen this all along, it has brought me up and I am not tired of it, and for you, the white man, everything has been made for your maintenance, and now that you come and stand on this our earth (ground) I do not understand; I see dimly to-day what you are doing, and I find fault with a portion of it; that is why I stand back; I would have been glad if every white man of every denomination were now present to hear what I say; through what you have done you have cheated my kinsmen.”
GOVERNOR–“I will not sit here and hear such words from the Chippewas. Who are you? You come from my country and you tell me the Queen has cheated you; it is not so. You say we have the best of the bargains; you know it is not so. If you have any requests to make in a respectful manner I am ready to hear.”
CHIPPEWA–“The God that made us and who alone is our master, I am afraid of Him to deviate from his commandment.”
The Chippewas, about half a dozen in all, being from Quill Lake chiefly, left, and Mr. Christie proceeded with the payments, which occupied the remainder of the 24th and all the 25th. He paid in all, Chiefs, 13; head men, 44; men, 262; women, 473; boys, 473; girls, 481; from Treaty Number Four, 41; total, 1,787. A large number of the tribe absent at the hunt will be paid next year.
Next morning, the 26th, the whole Cree camp, headed by their Chiefs and head men, wearing their uniforms and medals, came to Carlton House and assembled in the square to pay their farewell visit to the Governor; the Chiefs came forward in order and shook hands, each one making a few remarks expressive of their gratitude for the benefits received and promised, and of their good will to the white man.
The Governor briefly replied, telling them that he was much gratified with the manner in which they had behaved throughout the treaty; he had never dealt with a quieter, more orderly and respectful body of Indians; he was pleased with the manner in which they had met him and taken his advice; he was glad to hear that they were determined to go to work and help themselves: he hoped their Councils would always be wisely conducted, and that they would do everything in their power to maintain peace amongst themselves and with their neighbors; he hoped the Almighty would give them wisdom and prosper them. They then gave three cheers for the Queen, the Governor, the mounted police and Mr. Lawrence Clarke, of Carlton House.
On the 27th a message was received from Duck Lake from the Willow Indians, the band which had hitherto held aloof, in reply to a message sent to them by the Governor, that they would meet the Governor and Commissioners at the place designated by the Governor, the camp of the Hon. James McKay, about five miles from Carlton House. Accordingly, the next morning the Commissioners met them, and after the usual ceremonial hand-shaking,
SAY-SWAY-PUS–“God has given us a beautiful day for which I feel very grateful. In grasping your hand I am grasping that of our Mother, the Queen. If it is your intention to honor me with a Chief’s clothing, I wish you would give me one that would correspond with the sky above. I hope we will be able to understand each other.”
CHIN-UN-US-KUT (The Stump)–“I feel very grateful that I am spared by the Great Spirit to see this day of his, may we be blessed in whatever we do this day.”
GOVERNOR–“Cree, my brother children of the Great Queen, I am glad to meet you here to-day. I say as you said the first day I saw you, ‘it is a bright day and I hope God will bless us.’ I have been sorry for you for many days. I took you by the hand on the first day, but a wall rose up between us, it seemed as if you were trying to draw away but I would not let your hand go. I talked for many days with the great body of the Indians here but you refused to meet me; the others and I understood each other. I was going away to-day, but I thought pity of you who had not talked with me. I was sent here to make you understand the Queen’s will. I received your letter last night and was glad to learn that you wanted to accept the terms I had offered, and which had been accepted by the other Indians. Before I received your letter I had sent you one asking you to meet me here where we are now, and I am glad you have come, as I could not otherwise have met you.
“One of you made a request that if he were accepted as a Chief, he should have a blue coat. I do not yet know who the Chiefs are. To be a Chief he must have followers. One man came forward as a Chief and I had to tell him unless you have twenty tents you cannot continue as a Chief.
“The color of your Chief’s coat is perhaps a little thing; red is the color all the Queen’s Chiefs wear. I wear this coat, but it is only worn by those who stand as the Queen’s Councilor; her soldiers and her officers wear red, and all the other Chiefs of the Queen wear the coats we have brought, and the good of this is that when the Chief is seen with his uniform and medal every one knows he is an officer of hers. I should be sorry to see you different from the others, and now that you understand you would not wish it.”
KAH-MEE-YIS-TOO-WAYS (The Beardy)–“I feel grateful for this day, and I hope we will be blessed. I am glad that I see something that will be of use; I wish that we all as a people may be benefitted by this. I want that all these things should be preserved in a manner that they might be useful to us all; it is in the power of man to help each other. We should not act foolishly with the things that are given us to live by. I think some things are too little, they will not be sufficient for our wants. I do not want very much more than what has been promised, only a little thing. I will be glad if you will help me by writing my request down; on account of the buffalo I am getting anxious. I wish that each one should have an equal share, if that could be managed; in this I think we would be doing good. Perhaps this is not the only time that we shall see each other. Now I suppose another can say what he wishes.”
SAY-SWAY-KUS–“What my brother has said, I say the same, but I want to tell him and our mother the Queen, that although we understand the help they offer us, I am getting alarmed when I look at the buffalo, it appears to me as if there was only one. I trust to the Queen and to the Governor, it is only through their aid we can manage to preserve them. I want to hear from the Governor himself an answer to what I have said, so I may thoroughly understand.”
THE BEARDY–“Those things which the Almighty has provided for the sustenance of his children may be given us as well; where our Father has placed the truth we wish the same to be carried out here, I do not set up a barrier to any road that my children may live by: I want the payment to exist as long as the sun shines and the river runs: if we exercise all our good, this surely will happen: all of our words upon which we agree, I wish to have a copy written on skin as promised; I want my brother to tell me where I can get this. He has said, ‘what I have done with the others I will do with you:’ I accept the terms, no doubt it will run further according to our number. When I am utterly unable to help myself I want to receive assistance. I will render all the assistance I can to my brother in taking care of the country. I want from my brother a suit of clothing in color resembling the sky so that he may be able when he sees me to know me; I want these two (sitting by him) to be Chiefs in our place with me and to have six Councilor (two each) in all.”
GOVERNOR–“I will speak to you in regard to food as I have spoken to the other Indians; we cannot support or feed the Indians every day, further than to help them to find the means of doing it for themselves by cultivating the soil. If you were to be regularly fed some of you would do nothing at all for your own support; in this matter we will do as we have agreed with the other Indians, and no more. You will get your share of the one thousand dollars’ worth of provisions when you commence to work on your reserves.
“In a national famine or general sickness, not what happens in every day life, but if a great blow comes on the Indians, they would not be allowed to die like dogs.
“What occurred in Red River last year from the destruction of crops by the grasshoppers, affected our whole people, and without being bound to do anything, the charity and humanity of the Government sent means to help them.
“I cannot give the Chief a blue coat: he must accept the red one and he must not suffer so small a matter as the color of a coat to stand between us. I accept the three Chiefs with two Councilor for each. With regard to the preservation of the buffalo, it is a subject of great importance, it will be considered by the Lieutenant-Governor and Council of the North-West Territories to see if a wise law can be passed, one that will be a living law that can be carried out and obeyed. If such a law be passed it will be printed in Cree as well as in English and French; but what the law will be I cannot tell–you held councils over the treaty, you did not know before the councils closed what you would decide as to the treat–no more can I tell what the North-West Council will decide.”
A request was then made that the treaty should include the Half-breeds, to which the Governor replied: “I have explained to the other Indians that the Commissioners did not come to the Half-breeds: there were however a certain class of Indian Half-breeds who had always lived in the camp with the Indians and were in fact Indians, would be recognized, but no others.”
The Chiefs and head men then signed the treaty in the presence of witnesses, the medals and flags were distributed, payments and distribution of clothing proceeded with and finished, and the conference came to an end.
The Lieutenant-Governor and party started from Carlton House on the 31st of August at noon, for Fort Pitt, and when within about six miles of that post came up with a detachment of Mounted Police under Inspectors Jarvis and Walker, who escorted them to the fort, arriving on the day appointed (5th September) at an early hour.
There were already assembled near the fort and on the banks of the Saskatchewan over one hundred lodges, and as more were immediately expected they requested postponement of negotiations until the 7th September.
On the morning of the 6th, Sweet Grass, one of the oldest and most respected of the Cree Chiefs, with about thirty of his chief men, who had left their hunt and come in to Fort Pitt purposely to attend the treaty negotiations, called on the Governor to express their satisfaction at his coming and their pleasure in seeing him; the greeting which was certainly affectionate, consisted in the embrace of both arms about the neck and a fraternal kiss on either cheek; after a short conversation the Governor told them he expected them to be ready to meet him at his tent in the morning; time was rapidly passing and he had a long journey yet before him; he trusted their Councils would be wise and the results would be beneficial to them.
The Hon. Jas. McKay arrived from Battle River in the evening, and reported that he had met there a number of Indians, principally Saulteaux, who had been in camp at that place for some time. They said there had been about seventy lodges altogether, but as the buffalo were coming near, the poorer ones had started out to hunt, leaving only about ten lodges there. The remaining ones expressed good feeling and said they would like to have waited until the time appointed (September 15th) to meet the Governor and take the treaty, yet as the buffalo hunt was of so much importance to them they could not afford to lose the time, knowing that the Governor had to go to Fort Pitt and return before they could see him, consequently the whole band went out to the plains. This band was composed, it was afterwards ascertained, of the Saulteaux of Jack Fish Lake and of some Cree under the Yellow Sky Chief, and were favorably disposed though unable to remain. They numbered in all sixty-seven tents.