Winnipeg, October 14th 1876 – Part C
To The Hon. Alexander Morris, Lieut. -Governor.
Sir, –Referring to your letter of instructions under date of the 14th of July, relative to the payment of the Norway House and Cross Lake bands of Indians, I have the honor to submit the following report: —
Having, in co-operation with the Hon. Thomas Howard, paid the Indians of Berens River and successfully secured the adhesion of the Island and Upper Berens River bands of Indians to Treaty Number Five, on the morning of Saturday, the 5th of August, I left for Norway House, which place, owing to stormy weather and strong head winds, I did not succeed in reaching until the morning of the 12th. On the way I was met by Indians proceeding to inspect their reserve at Fisher’s River, who brought a letter from the Chiefs of Norway House and Cross Lake, stating that the Indians were all assembled, and requesting to be paid at the earliest possible date.
On reaching this place, Norway House, after having camp pitched at a short distance from the fort, I dispatched messengers to the several camps and villages, notifying the Indians of my arrival and desiring the Chiefs to meet me on the Monday morning following. On Sunday evening divine service was held within the fort by the Rev. Mr. Ruttan, Wesleyan missionary, at which a large number of Indians were present.
On Monday morning, the Chiefs and most of the Indians of both bands having assembled at my camp, the Cross Lake band requested to be paid there, and the Norway House Chief asked that his people might he paid in the school-house in their village about two miles from the fort. On hearing that all the Indians that could come were assembled, I consented to pay them where they desired, and told the Cross Lake Chief to bring his people at noon to receive their gratuities, the payment which was satisfactorily completed the same day.
The next day I crossed over to the Indian village and paid the Norway House bands their annuities….
The following morning, Wednesday, August 16th, the Chiefs and Indians of the two bands having assembled at my camp, I distributed the provisions implements, &c., which were received with the greatest degree of gratification and satisfaction.
On my inquiring of the Chief of Norway House when his band would be prepared to remove to their reserve at the Fisher River, he informed me that he had sent two of his people to that locality to report on the same, and that he could not say anything definite on the matter until their return. I might here state that, on my way back to Winnipeg I met these men returning from Fisher’s River, who expressed themselves as highly pleased with the proposed location, and that the band in all probability would remove there in the spring.
Whilst at Norway House I was waited upon by a Chief and four Councilors from the vicinity of Oxford House, who were anxious to know if the same bounties would be extended to them as were being extended to their brethren of Norway House and Cross Lake, and also whether they could obtain a reserve on Lake Winnipeg, as the country in which they were living was totally unfit for cultivation, and that they had the greatest difficulty in procuring a livelihood. I told them that I had no idea what were the intentions of the Government with regard to those Indians living north of the present Treaty, but that I would make known their requests to Your Excellency, and that they would be duly notified of any action the Government might take in the matter.
I left Norway House on my return trip, on the morning of the 18th, arriving at Winnipeg on the afternoon of Saturday the 26th, having that morning paid my boat’s crew off at Selkirk.
I would here mention that previous to my departure from Norway House there was a very hearty and apparently sincere expression of gratitude, on the part of all the Indians present, for the liberality extended to them, and a general and spoken wish that their thanks be conveyed to the Queen’s Representative in this Province for his kind interest in their welfare.
I cannot conclude without bearing testimony to the kindness of Mr. Ross, Hudson’s Bay Company’s Factor, and the Rev. Mr. Ruttan, Wesleyan missionary, for services rendered during the few days occupied in my making the payments at Norway House.
I enclose herewith statement of expenditure, &c., &c., with vouchers attached.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, J. Lestock Reid, Commissioner.