On this day the Indians accepted the terms of the treaty, and several of the Chiefs made speeches. The first speaker was Crowfoot. CROWFOOT–“While I speak, be kind and patient. I have to speak for my people, who are numerous, and who rely upon me to follow that course which in the future will tend to their good. The plains are large and wide. We are the children of the plains, it is our home, and the buffalo has been our food always. I hope you look upon the Blackfeet, Blood, and Sarcees as your children now, and that you will be indulgent and charitable to them. They all expect me to speak now for them, and I trust the Great Spirit will put into their breasts to be a good people–into the minds of the men, women and children, and their future generations. The advice given me and my people has proved to be very good. If the Police had not come to the, country, where would we be all now? Bad men and whiskey were killing us so fast that very few, indeed, of us would have been left to-day. The Police have protected us as the feathers of the bird protect it from the frosts of winter. I wish them all good, and trust that all our hearts will increase in goodness from this time forward....Read More
Collection: The Treaties with the Indians of Canada
This was the day appointed for the opening of the Treaty, but as a number of the Indian Chiefs, who had a long distance to come, were absent, it was deferred until the following Wednesday. The Governor, however, addressed a number of the Chiefs who were assembled at the Council House. He said, “Last year a message was sent to you by the Councilors of the Great Mother that they would meet you at an early date, and as her Councilors always keep their promises, they have appointed Col. McLeod and myself to meet you here now. We appointed this day, and I have come a very long distance to keep my promise, and have called you together to discover if you all have responded to my summons, and if any Chiefs are now absent, to learn when they shall arrive. You say that some of the Blood Chiefs are absent, and as it is our wish to speak to them as well as to you, and as they have a very long way to come to reach this place, we shall give them until next Wednesday to come in. On that day, I will deliver to you the Queen’s message, but if any of the Chiefs would desire to speak now, we will be glad to listen to them. I would tell you now, that while you remain,...Read More
Sir,–I have the honor to inform you that on the 4th August I received at Swan River your telegram dated on the first of that month. It notified me that a Commission appointing Lieut.-Col. James F. McLeod, C.M.G., and myself, Commissioners to negotiate a treaty with the Blackfeet and other Indians of the unsurrendered parts of the North-West Territories adjoining the United States boundary, had been forwarded to Fort McLeod. I immediately made preparations for the journey. These occupied me a week, as arrangements had to be made for the removal of furniture and other property to Battle River, where the Government House for the territories, in course of construction, would probably be ready for occupation on my return from the treaty negotiations. On the 11th August I left Swan River for Fort McLeod, via Battleford, proposing to go from the latter place by Cypress Hills to my destination. I took the Quill Lake trail and came to the telegraph line, about four miles from Big Stone Lake. Thence I followed that line until I came to the trail at the elbow of the North Saskatchewan leading to Battle River. Where the telegraph crosses the South Saskatchewan I found an excellent ferry scow, and a ferryman placed there by the Public Works Department. I arrived at the ferry about noon on the 20th, and though a high wind rendered...Read More
About noon on Friday the payments were completed, and the Commissioners proceeded to close the accounts. They found that the number of Indians paid, who had accepted the terms of the new treaty was as follows:– Head Chiefs, 10 at $25 = $250 Minor Chiefs and Councilors, 40 at 15 = $600 Men, women and children, 4,342 at 12 = $52,104 Total, 4,392 = $52,954 The Cree who gave in their adhesion to Treaty Number Six were only paid the gratuity, this year’s annuity being still due them. These were paid from the funds of Treaty Number Six as follows:– Chief, 1 at $25 = $25 Councilors, 2 at 15 = $30 Men, women and children, 429 at 12 = $5,148 Total, 432 = $5,203 The officers of the Police Force, who conducted the payments, discharged this duty in a most efficient manner. Not in regard to the payments alone were the services of the officers most valuable. With respect to the whole arrangements, Lieut. Col. McLeod, my associate Commissioner, both in that capacity and as Commander of the Police, was indefatigable in his exertions to bring the negotiations to a successful termination. The same laudable efforts were put forth by Major Irvine and the other officers of the Force, and their kindness to me, personally I shall never fail to remember. The volunteer band of the Police at...Read More
On Saturday, 22nd September, we met the Indians to conclude the treaty. Mekasto, or Red Crow the great Chief of the South Bloods, had arrived the previous evening, or morning, on the ground, and being present, came forward to be introduced to the Commissioners. The assemblage of Indians was large. All the head Chiefs of the several tribes were now present; only two Blackfeet and two Blood minor Chiefs were absent. The representation was all that could be expected. The Commissioners had previously informed the Indians that they would accept the Chiefs whom they acknowledged, and now close in front of the tent sat those who had been presented to the Commissioners as the recognized Chiefs of the respective bands. The conditions of the treaty having been interpreted to the Indians, some of the Blood Chiefs, who bad said very little on the previous day, owing to Red Crow’s absence, now spoke, he himself in a few kind words agreeing to accept the treaty. Crowfoot then came forward and requested his name to be written to the treaty. The Commissioners having first signed it, Mr. L’Heureux, being familiar with the Blackfoot language, attached the Chiefs’ names to the document at their request and witnessed to their marks. While the signing was being proceeded with, a salute was fired from the field guns in honor of the successful conclusion of...Read More
On Tuesday, at two o’clock, the Cree Chief and his band assembled according to appointment. The Commissioners ascertained from him that he had frequented for some time the Upper Bow River country, and might fairly be taken into the present treaty, but he expressed a wish to have his reserve near Pigeon Lake, within the limits of Treaty Number Six, and from what we could learn of the feelings of the Blackfeet toward the Cree, we considered it advisable to keep them separate as much as possible. We therefore informed the Chief that it would be most expedient for him to give in his adhesion to the treaty of last year, and be paid annually, on the north of Red Deer River, with the other Cree Chiefs. He consented. We then told him that we could not pay him until after the Blackfeet had been dealt with, as it might create jealousy among them, but that in the meantime his band could receive rations. He said it was right that he should wait until we had settled with the Blackfeet, and agreed to come and sign his adhesion to Treaty Number Six at any time I was prepared to receive him. During Tuesday, several parties of Indians came in, but the principal Blood Chiefs had not yet arrived. According to appointment, however, the Commissioners met the Indians at two...Read More
On our journey, while within the limits of Treaty Number Six, we met scarcely any Indians, but after we crossed Red Deer River we met a few Cree and Half-breeds, and several hunting parties of Blackfeet. The former generally use carts in traveling, but the Blackfeet and their associates are always on horseback. The Cree appeared friendly, but were not so demonstrative as the Blackfeet, who always rode up at once with a smile on their countenances and shook hands with us. They knew the uniform of the Mounted Police at a distance, and at once recognized and approached them as their friends. We resumed our journey on Monday and arrived at Fort McLeod on the Old Man’s River, on Tuesday the 4th September. The distance between the Blackfoot crossing of the Bow River and the Fort is about seventy-nine miles, thus making the length of our journey from Battleford three hundred and sixty-five miles as measured by Major Irvine’s odometer. A few miles from Fort McLeod I was met by the Commissioners of the Mounted Police and a large party of the Force, who escorted me into the Fort, while a salute was fired by the artillery company from one of the hills overlooking the line of march. The men, whose horses were in excellent condition, looked exceedingly well, and the officers performed their duties in a most...Read More
On Sunday afternoon the Indians fought a sham battle on horseback. They only wore the breech-cloths. They fired off their rifles in all directions, and sent the bullets whistling past the spectators in such close proximity as to create most unpleasant feelings. I was heartily glad when they defiled past singly on the way back to their lodges, and the last of their unearthly yells had died away in the distance. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were occupied in paying off the different tribes. They were paid by Inspector Winder, Sub-Inspector Denny, and Sub-Inspector Antrobus, each assisted by a constable of the Force. It was hard work to find out the correct number of each family. Many after receiving their money would return to say that they had made a wrong count; one would discover that he had another wife, another two more children, and others that they had blind mothers and lame sisters. In some cases they wanted to be paid for the babies that were expected to come soon. On Wednesday the Chiefs presented an address to the Commissioners, expressing the entire satisfaction of the whole nation with the treaty, and to the way in which the terms had been carried out. They tendered their well wishes to the Queen, the Governor, Col. McLeod, and the Police Force. They spoke in the most flattering and enthusiastic manner of...Read More
The Governor, on arriving at the Council House, where all the Chiefs were awaiting him, said that he was glad to see them all there, and that he had only a few words to say to them. He said, “I expect to listen to what you have to say to-day, but, first, I would explain that it is your privilege to hunt all over the prairies, and that should you desire to sell any portion of your land, or any coal or timber from off your reserves, the Government will see that you receive just and fair prices, and that you can rely on all the Queen’s promises being fulfilled. Your payments will be punctually made. You all know the Police; you know that no promise of theirs to you has ever been broken; they speak and act straight. You have perfect confidence in them, and by the past conduct of the Police towards you, you can judge of the future. I think I have now said all, and will listen to you and explain anything you wish to know; we wish to keep nothing back.” BUTTON CHIEF–“The Great Spirit sent the white man across the great waters to carry out His (the Great Spirit’s) ends. The Great Spirit, and not the Great Mother, gave us this land, The Great Mother sent Stamixotokon (Col. McLeod) and the Police to...Read More
Fort Mcleod, October 4, 1877. The treaty with the Blackfeet nation has been concluded satisfactorily, and was signed by the Chiefs of the Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan and Sarcee tribes, in the presence of the Commissioners–Governor Laird and Col. McLeod, C.M.G., and of Major Irvine, Assistant Commissioner, North-West Mounted Police, and officers of the Police Force, at the Council House, near “Ridge under the Water,” or “The Blackfoot Crossing” the Great Bow River, on the 22nd September last. On the morning of the 4th of September, Col. McLeod received information from the ubiquitous Indian that the Queen’s father (Lieut.-Gov. Laird) was at Little Bow River, thirty miles north from McLeod, and was accompanied by the “Buffalo Bull” (Major Irvine), and that they would arrive before the sun sank below the western horizon. At three p.m. the Commissioner left Fort McLeod, accompanied by a guard of honor of one hundred mounted men, to meet and escort the representative of Vice-Royalty to the first white settlement in the Blackfeet country. The Governor was met three miles north of Willow Creek, and expressed his surprise and pleasure at the splendid appearance of the well-mounted, well-equipped, well-drilled body of men who formed the guard of honour. When the head of the column forming the escort wound round the bend of Willow Creek, and the extensive wooded valley on which McLeod is built appeared in...Read More
The assembled Chiefs met the Governor this morning, as per agreement, and opened the proceedings of the day by expressing the pleasure they experienced at meeting the Commissioners on the present occasion. Promises had many times been made to them, and, said the speaker, unless they were now fulfilled they would not consider the broader question of the treaty. Mr. S. J. Dawson, one of the Commissioners, reciprocated the expression of pleasure used by the Chiefs through their spokesman. He had long looked forward to this meeting, when all matters relating to the past, the present, and the future, could be disposed of so as to fix permanently the friendly relations between the Indians and the white men. It was now, he continued, some years since the white men first came to this country–they came in the first place at the head of a great military expedition; and when that expedition was passing through the country all the chiefs showed themselves to be true and loyal subjects–they showed themselves able and willing to support their Great Mother the Queen. Subsequently, when we began to open up the road, we had to call upon the Indians to assist us in doing so, and they always proved themselves very happy to help in carrying out our great schemes. He was, he continued, one of the Commission employed by the Government to...Read More
Beginning at the North-West Angle eastward, taking in all the Lake of the Woods, including White Fish Bay, Rat Portage and north to White Dog in English River; up English River to Lake Seul, and then south east to Lake Nepigon; westward to Rainy River and down it to Lake of the Woods, and up nearly to Lac des Mille Lacs; then beginning at the 49th parallel to White Mouth River, thence down it to the north, along the eastern boundary of the land ceded in 1871, embracing 55,000 square miles. In the neighborhood of Lac des mille Lacs and Shebandowan are several bands, who have sent word that they cannot come as far as this point, but will accept the terms made at this treaty and ratify it with any one commissioner who will go there to meet them. The whole number of Indians in the territory is estimated at 14,000, and are represented here by Chiefs of the following bands: 1. North-West Angle. 2. Rat Portage. 3. Lake Seul. 4. White Fish Bay on Lake of the Woods. 5. Sha-bas-kang, or Grassy Narrows. 6. Rainy River. 7. Rainy Lake. 8. Beyond Kettle Falls, southward. 9. Eagle Lake. 10. Nepigon. 11. Shoal Lake (three miles to the north of this...Read More
GOVERNOR–“The mill is a private enterprise, and we have no power to give you boards from that.” CHIEF–“I will now show you a medal that was given to those who made a treaty at Red River by the Commissioner. He said it was silver, but I do not think it is. I should be ashamed to carry it on my breast over my heart. I think it would disgrace the Queen, my mother, to wear her image on so base a metal as this. [Here the Chief held up the medal and struck it with the back of his knife. The result was anything but the ‘true ring,’ and made every man ashamed of the petty meanness that had been practiced.] Let the medals you give us be of silver–medals that shall be worthy of the high position our Mother the Queen occupies.” GOVERNOR–“I will tell them at Ottawa what you have said, and how you have said it.” CHIEF–“I wish you to understand you owe the treaty much to the Half-breeds.” GOVERNOR–“I know it. I sent some of them to talk with you, and I am proud that all the Half-breeds from Manitoba, who are here, gave their Governor their cordial support.” The business of the treaty having now been completed, the Chief, Mawedopenais, who, with Powhassan, had with such wonderful tact carried on the negotiations, stepped up...Read More
COMMISSIONER PROVENCHER (the Governor being temporarily absent)–“As soon as it is convenient to the Government to send surveyors to lay out the reserves they will do so, and they will try to suit every particular band in this respect.” CHIEF–“We do not want anybody to mark out our reserves, we have already marked them out.” COMMISSIONER–“There will be another undertaking between the officers of the Government and the Indians among themselves for the selection of the land; they will have enough of good farming land, they may be sure of that.” CHIEF–“Of course, if there is any particular part wanted by the public works they can shift us. I understand that; but if we have any gardens through the country, do you wish that the poor man should throw it right away?” COMMISSIONER–“Of course not.” CHIEF–“These are matters that are the wind-up. I begin now to see how I value the proceedings. I have come to this point, and all that are taking part in this treaty and yourself I would wish to have all your names in writing handed over to us. I would not find it to my convenience to have a stranger here to transact our business between me and you. It is a white man who does not understand our language that is taking it down. I would like a man that understands our language...Read More
Proceedings were opened at eleven o’clock by the Governor announcing that he was ready to hear what the Chiefs had to say. The Fort Francis Chief acted as spokesman, assisted by another Chief, Powhassan. MA-WE-DO-PE-NAIS–“I now lay down before you the opinions of those you have seen before. We think it a great thing to meet you here. What we have heard yesterday, and as you represented yourself, you said the Queen sent you here, the way we understood you as a representative of the Queen. All this is our property where you have come. We have understood you yesterday that Her Majesty has given you the same power and authority as she has, to act in this business; you said the Queen gave you her goodness, her charitableness in your hands. This is what we think, that the Great Spirit has planted us on this ground where we are, as you were where you came from. We think where we are is our property. I will tell you what he said to us when he planted us here; the rules that we should follow–us Indians–He has given us rules that we should follow to govern us rightly. We have understood you that you have opened your charitable heart to us like a person taking off his garments and throwing them to all of us here. Now, first of...Read More
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