Treaty Negotiations, July 1871 to October 1873, Between Canada and First Nations of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

44 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians.


IN the year 1871 the Privy Council of Canada issued a joint commission to Messrs. W. M. Simpson, S. J. Dawson and W. J. Pether, authorizing them to treat with the Ojibbeway Indians for the surrender to the Crown of the lands they inhabited—covering the area from the watershed of Lake Superior to the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods, and from the American border to the height of land from which the streams flow towards the Hudson's Bay. This step had become necessary in order to make the route known as "the Dawson route," extending from Prince Arthur's Landing on Lake Superior to the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods, which was then being opened up, "secure for the passage of emigrants and of the people of the Dominion generally," and also to enable the Government to throw open for settlement any portion of the land which might be susceptible of improvement and profitable occupation. The Commissioners accepted the appointment, and in July, 1871, met the Indians at Fort Francis.
The tribes preferred claims for right of way through their country. The Commissioners reported "that they had admitted these to a limited extent and had made them presents in provisions and clothing and were also to pay them a small amount in money, it being fully and distinctly understood by the Indians that these presents and clothing were accepted by them as an equivalent for all past claims whatever." The Commissioners having explained to them fully the intentions of the Government as to obtaining a surrender of their territorial rights, and giving in return therefor reserves of land and The North- West Angle Treaty. 45 annual payments, asked them to consider the proposals calmly and meet the Commissioners the succeeding summer to come to an arrangement. In 1872, the Indians were found not to be ready for the making of a treaty and the subject was postponed. In the year 1873 a commission was issued to the Hon. Alexander Morris, then Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, Lieut.-Col. Provencher, who had in the interval been appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the place of Mr. Simpson, who had resigned, and Lindsay Russell, Esq., but the latter being unable to act, Mr. Dawson, now M.P. for Algoma, was appointed Commissioner in his stead. These Commissioners having accepted the duty confided to them, met the Indians at the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods in the end of September, 1873, and, after protracted and difficult negotiations, succeeded in effecting a treaty with them. A copy of the treaty will be found in the Appendix, and a brief record  of the utterances of the Indians and of the Commissioners, which was taken down in short hand by one of the soldiers of the militia force, is hereto subjoined. This treaty was one of  great importance, as it not only tranquilized the large Indian  population affected by it, but eventually shaped the terms of all the treaties, four, five, six and seven, which have since been  made with the Indians of the North-West Territories—who speedily became apprised of the concessions which had been  granted to the Ojibbeway nation. The closing scenes were striking and impressive. The chief speaker, Mawe-do-pe-nais,  thus winding up the conference on the part of the Indians, in his  final address to the Lieutenant-Governor and his fellow Commissioners :
"Now you see me stand before you all : what has been done here to-day has been done openly before the Great Spirit and before the nation, and I hope I may never hear any one say that this treaty has been done secretly: and now in closing this council, I take off my glove, and in giving you my hand I 46 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. deliver over my birthright and lands : and in taking your hand I hold fast all the promises you have made, and I hope they will last as long as the sun rises and the water flows, as you have said."
The conference then adjourned, and on re-assembling, after the treaty had been read and explained, the Commissioners signed it and the Lieutenant-Governor called on an aged hereditary Chief, Kee-ta-kay-pi-nais, to sign next. The Chief came forward, but declined to touch the pen, saying, "I must first have the money in my hand." The Lieutenant-Governor immediately held out his hand, and directed the interpreter to say to the chief, "Take my hand and feel the money in it. If you cannot trust me for half an hour, do not trust me forever." When this was repeated by the interpreter, the Chief smiled, took the outstretched hand, and at once touched the pen, while his max t ' was being made, his last lingering distrust having been effectively dispelled by this prompt action and reply. The other Chiefs followed, and then the interpreter was directed to tell Kee-ta-kay-pi-nais, the Chief, that he would be paid forthwith, but the Chief at once replied, "Oh no, it is evening now, and I will wait till to-morrow." The payments were duly made next day, and so was closed, a treaty, whereby a territory was enabled to be opened up, of great importance to Canada, embracing as it does the Pacific Railway route to the North- West Territories—a wide extent of fertile lands, and, as is believed, great mineral resources. I now quote the official despatch of the Lieutenant-Governor, dated the 14th October, 1873, in which will be found, a full narrative of the proceedings, connected with the treaty, and a statement of the results thereby effected. I also submit a short-hand report of the negotiations connected with the treaty.
The North-West Angle Treaty. 47
FORT GARRY, October 14th, 1873.
SIR,—I have the honor to enclose copy of a treaty made by myself, Lieut.-Col. Provencher, Indian agent, and S. J. Dawson, Esq., Commissioner, acting on behalf of Her Majesty, of the one part, and the Salteaux tribe of Ojibbeway Indians on the other, at the North-West Angle of the Lake of the Woods, on the 3rd of October, for the relinquishment of the Indian title to the tract of land therein described, and embracing 55,000 square miles. In the first place, the holding of the negotiation of the treaty had been appointed by you to take place at the North-West Angle before you requested me to take part therein, and Mr. Dawson had obtained the consent of the Indians to meet there on the 10th of September, but they afterwards changed their minds, and refused to meet me unless I came to Fort Francis. I refused to do this, as I felt that the yielding to the demand of the Indians in this respect, would operate injuriously to the success of the treaty, and the results proved the correctness of the opinion I had formed. I therefore sent a special agent (Mr. Pierre Levaillier) to warn them that I would meet them as arranged at the North-West Angle on the 25th, or not at all this year, to which they eventually agreed.
I left here for the Angle on the 23rd September, and arrived there on the 25th, when I was joined by Messrs. Provencher and Dawson, the last named of whom I was glad to find had been associated with the Commissioners in consequence of the resignation of Mr. Lindsey Russell, thereby giving us the benefit as well of his knowledge of the country to be dealt with, as of the several bands of Indians therein. Mr. Pether, of Fort Francis, was also in attendance, and Mr. Provencher was accompanied by Mr. St. John, of his department.
On arriving, the Indians, who were already there, came up to the house I occupied, in procession, headed by braves bearing a banner and a Union Jack, and accompanied by others beating drums. They asked leave to perform a dance in my honor, after which they presented to me the pipe of peace. They were then supplied with provisions and returned to their camp. As the Indians had not all arrived, and for other reasons, the 26th, 27th and 28th were passed without any progress, but on the 29th I sent them word that they must meet the Commissioners next morning. Accordingly, on the the 30th, they met us in a tent, the use of which I had obtained from the military authorities. I explained to them the object of the meeting, but as they informed me that they were not ready to confer with us, I adjourned the meeting until next day. On the lst October they again assembled. The principal cause of the delay was divisions and jealousies among themselves. The nation had not met for many years, and some of them had never before been assembled together. They were very jealous of each other, and dreaded any of the Chiefs having individual communications with me, 48 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. to prevent which they had guards on the approaches to my house and Mr. Dawson's tent. On the 2nd October they again assembled, when I again explained the object of the meeting, through Mr. McPherson, an intelligent half-breed trader, whose services I secured. M. Chatelan, the Government interpreter, was also present. They had selected three spokesmen, and had also an Indian reporter, whose duty was to commit to memory all that was said. They had also secured the services of M. Joseph Nolin, of Point du Chene, to take notes in French of the negotiations, a copy of which notes I obtained from him and herewith enclose. The spokesmen informed me they would not treat as to the land until we settled with them as to the Dawson route, with regard to which they alleged Mr. Dawson had made promises which had not been kept, and that they had not been paid for the wood used in building the steamers, nor for the use of the route itself. Mr. Dawson explained that he had paid them for cutting wood, but had always asserted a common right to the use of wood and the water way. He asked them what promise had not been kept, and pointed out that the Government had twice before endeavored to treat with them for a settlement of all matters. He referred them to me as to the general question of the use of the route. They were unable to name any promises which had not been kept. Thereupon I told them I came on behalf of the Queen and the Government of the Dominion of Canada to treat with them with regard to the lands and all other matters, but that they refused to hear what I had to say ; they had closed my mouth ; and as we would not treat except for the settlement of all matters past and future I could not speak unless they asked me to do so. They conferred among themselves, and seeing that we were quite firm, the spokesman came forward and said that they would not close my mouth, after which they would make their demands. The Commissioners had had a conference and agreed, as they found there was no hope of a treaty for a less sum, to offer five dollars per head, a present of ten dollars, and reserves of farming and other lands not exceeding one square mile per family of five, or in that proportion, sums within the limits of our instructions, though I had private advices if possible not to give the maximum sum named, as the Government had been under a misapprehension as to amounts given to the bands in the United States. The Chiefs heard my proposal, and the meeting adjourned until next day. On the 3rd October the Chiefs again assembled and made a counter proposition, of which I enclose a copy, being the demand they have urged since 1869. I also enclose an estimate I had made of the money value of the demand, amounting to $125,000 per annum. On behalf of the Commissioners I at once peremptorily refused the demand. The spokesmen returned to the Chiefs, who were arranged on benches, the people sitting on the ground behind them, and on their return they informed me that the Chiefs, warriors and braves were of one mind, that they would make a treaty only if we acceded to their demand. I told them if so the conference was over, that I would return and report that they had refused to make a reasonable treaty, that hereafter I would treat with those bands The North-West Angle Treaty. 49 who were willing to treat, but that I would advise them to return to the council and reconsider their determination before next morning, when, if not, I should certainly leave. This brought matters to a crisis. The Chief of the Lac Seul band came forward to speak. The others tried to prevent him, but he was secured a hearing. He stated that he represented four hundred people in the north ; that they wished a treaty ; that they wished a school-master to be sent them to teach their children the knowledge of the white man ; that they had begun to cultivate the soil and were growing potatoes and Indian corn, but wished other grain for seed and some agricultural implements and cattle. This Chief spoke under evident apprehension as to the course he was taking in resisting the other Indians, and displayed much good sense and moral courage. He was followed by the Chief "Blackstone," who urged the other Chiefs to return to the council and consider my proposals, stating that he was ready to treat, though he did not agree to my proposals nor to those made to me. I then told them that I had known all along they were not united as they had said ; that they ought not to allow a few Chiefs to prevent a treaty, and that I wished to treat with them as a nation and not with separate bands, as they would otherwise compel me to do ; and therefore urged them to return to their council, promising to remain another day to give them time for consideration. They spent the night in council, and next morning having received a message from M. Charles Nolin, a French half-breed, that they were becoming more amenable to reason, I requested the Hon. James McKay (who went to the Angle three times to promote this treaty), Charles Nolin and Pierre Levaillier to go down to the Indian Council, and as men of their own blood, give them friendly advice. They accordingly did so, and were received by the Indians, and in about half an hour afterwards were followed by Messrs. Provencher and St. John, who also took part in the interview with the Council of Chiefs. The Chiefs were summoned to the conference by the sound of a bugle and again met us, when they told me that the determination to adhere to their demand had been so strong a bond that they did not think it could be broken, but they had now determined to see if I would give them anything more.
The Commissioners had had a conference, and agreed previously to offer a small sum for ammunition and twine for nets, yearly—a few agricultural implements and seeds, for any band actually farming or commencing to farm, and to increase the money payment by two dollars per head if it should be found necessary in order to secure a treaty, maintaining a permanent annuities at the sum fixed. The Indians on the other hand had determined on asking fifteen dollars, with some other demands. In fixing the ten dollars the Commissioners had done so as a sum likely to be accepted in view of three dollars per head having been paid the Indians the first year the Dawson route was used, and that they had received nothing since. In reply to the Indians, I told them I was glad that they had reconsidered their decision, and that as they had done so, being desirous of inducing them to 50 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. practice agriculture and to have the means of getting food if their fishing and hunting failed, we would give them certain implements, cattle and grain, once for all, and the extra two dollars per head of a money payment. This proposal was received favorably, but the spokesmen again came forward and said they had some questions to ask before accepting my proposal. They wanted suits of clothing every year for all the bands, and fifty dollars for every Chief annually. This I declined, but told them that there were some presents of clothing and food which would be given them this year at the close of treaty. They then asked free passes forever over the Canada Pacific Railway, which I refused. They then asked that no " fire-water " should be sold on their reserves, and I promised that a regulation to this effect should he introduced into the treaty. They then asked that they should not be sent to war, and I told them the Queen was not in the hahit of employing the Indians in warfare. They asked that they should have power to put turbulent men off their reserves, and I told them the law would be enforced against such men. They asked what reserves would be given them, and were informed by Mr. Provencher that reserves of farming and other lands would be given them as previously stated, and that any land actually in cultivation by them would be respected. They asked if the mines would be theirs ; I said if they were found on their reserves it would he to their benefit, but not otherwise. They asked if an Indian found a mine would he be paid for it, I told them he could sell his information if he could find a purchaser like any other person. They explained that some of their children had married in the States, and they wished them to return and live among them, and wanted them included in the treaty. I told them the treaty was not for American Indians, but any bona fide British Indians of the class they mentioned who should within two years be found resident on British soil would be recognized.
They said there were some ten to twenty families of half-breeds who were recognized as Indians, and lived with them, and they wished them included. I said the treaty was not for whites, but I would recommend that those families should be permitted the. option of taking either status as Indians or whites, but that they could not take both. They asked that Mr. Charles Nolin should be employed as an Indian Agent, and I stated that I would submit his name to the Government with favorable mention of his services on that occasion. They asked that the Chiefs and head men, as in other treaties, should get an official suit of clothing, a flag, and a medal, which I promised. Mawedopenais produced one of the medals given to the Red River Chiefs, said it was not silver, and they were ashamed to wear it, as it turned black, and then, with an air of great contempt, struck it with his knife. I stated that I would mention what he had said, and the manner in which he had spoken. They also stated the Hudson Bay Company had staked out ground at Fort Francis, on part of the land they claimed to have used, and to be entitled to, and I promised that enquiry would be made into the matter. They apologized for the number of questions put me, which The North-West Angle Treaty. 51 occupied a space of some hours, and then the principal spokesman, Mawedopenais, came forward and drew off his gloves, and spoke as follows : " Now you see me stand before you all. What has been done here to-day, has been done openly before the Great Spirit, and before the nation, and I hope that I may never hear any one say that this treaty has been done secretly. And now, in closing this council, I take off my glove, and in giving you my hand, I deliver over my birthright, and lands, and in taking your hand I hold fast all the promises you have made, and I hope they will last as long as the sun goes round, and the water flows, as you have said." To which I replied as follows: " I accept your hand, and with it the lands, and will keep all my promises, in the firm belief that the treaty now to be signed will bind the red man and the white man together as friends forever." The conference then adjourned for an hour to enable the text of the treaty to be completed, in accordance with the understanding arrived at. At the expiration of that period the conference was resumed, and after the reading of the treaty, and an explanation of it in Indian by the Hon. James McKay, it was signed by the Commissioners and by the several Chiefs, the first signature being that of a very aged hereditary Chief he next day the Indians were paid by Messrs. Pether and Graham, of the Department of Public Works ; the latter of whom kindly offered his services, as Mr. Provencher had to leave to keep another appointment. The negotiation was a very difficult and trying one, and required on the part of the Commissioners, great patience and firmness. On the whole I am of opinion that the issue is a happy one. With the exception of two bands in the Shebandowan District, whose adhesion was secured in advance, and the signatures of whose Chiefs Mr. Dawson left to secure, the Indian title has been extinguished over the vast tract of country comprising 55,000 square miles lying between the upper boundary of the Lake Superior treaty, and that of the treaty made by Mr. Commissioner Simpson at Manitoba Post, and embracing within its bounds the Dawson route, the route of the Canada Pacific Railway, and an extensive lumber and mineral region.* It is fortunate, too, that the arrangement has been effected, as the Indians along the lakes and rivers were dissatisfied at the use of the waters, which they considered theirs, having been taken without compensation, so much so indeed that I believe if the treaty had not been made, the Government would have been compelled to place a force on the line next year.
Before closing this despatch, I have much pleasure in bearing testimony to the hearty co-operation and efficient aid the Commissioners received from the Metis who were present at the Angle, and who, with one accord, whether of French or English origin, used the influence which their relationships to the Indians gave them, to impress them with the necessity of their entering into the treaty. I must also express my obligations to the detachment of 52 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. troops under the command of Captain Macdonald, assigned me as an escort, for their soldierly bearing and excellent conduct while at the Angle. Their presence was of great value, and had the effect of deterring traders from bringing articles of illicit trade for sale to the Indians ; and moreover exercised a moral influence which contributed most materially to the success of the negotiations. I have further to add, that it was found impossible, owing to the extent of the country treated for, and the want of knowledge of the circumstances of each band, to define the reserves to be granted to the Indians. It was therefore agreed that the reserves should be hereafter selected by officers of the Government, who should confer with the several bands, and pay due respect to lands actually cultivated by them. A provision was also introduced to the effect that any of the reserves, or any interest in them, might hereafter be sold for the benefit of the Indians by the Government with their consent. I would suggest that instructions should be given to Mr. Dawson to select the reserves with all convenient speed ; and, to prevent complication, I would further suggest that no patents should be issued, or licenses granted, for mineral or timber lands, or other lands, until the quescion of the reserves has been first adjusted.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant,
ALEXANDER MORRIS, Lieut.-Governor.
Attention is called to the ensuing report of the proceedings connected with the treaty, extracted from the Manitoban newspaper of the 18th October, 1873, published at Winnipeg. The reports of the speeches therein contained were prepared by a short-hand reporter and present an accurate view of the course of the discussions, and a vivid representation of the habits of Indian thought.
September 30, 1873.
The. Lieutenant-Governor and party, and the other Commissioners appointed to negotiate a treaty with the Indians, arrived here on Thursday, 24th inst., having enjoyed delightful weather during the entire trip from Fort Garry. The Governor occupies the house of the officer in charge of the H. B. Post. The grounds around it have been nicely graded and cleared of brush, and surrounded by rows of evergreens planted The North-West Angle Treaty. 53 closely, so as to completely screen the house from wind, and at the same time contribute much to relieve the monotony of the scenery. Immediately west of this, and likewise enclosed by walls of evergreens, is the large marquee used as a Council House, by the contracting parties ; and immediately surrounding it to the north and west are the tents of the other officers of the Commission and the officers and men of the Volunteers on detachment duty.
Situated to the eastward, and extending all along the river bank, are the tents of the Indians to the number of a hundred, with here and there the tent of the trader, attracted thither by the prospect of turning an honest penny by exchanging the necessaries of Indian life for such amounts of the price of their heritage as they can be induced to spend.
The natives now assembled here number about 800 all told, and hail from the places given below. Among them are many fine physically developed men, who would be considered good looking were it not for the extravagance with which they besmear their faces with pigments of all colors.
It was at first thought probable that the serious business of the meeting would be begun on Friday, but owing to the nonarrival of a large body of Rainy River and Lac Seul representatives, it was decided to defer it until next day. Saturday came, and owing to the arrival of a messenger from the Lac Seul band asking the Governor to wait for their arrival, proceedings have further stayed until Monday. But "hope deferred maketh the heart sick ;" so the advent of Monday brought nothing but disappointment, and this, coupled with the disagreeable wet and cold weather that prevailed, made every one ill at ease if not miserable. The Chiefs were not ready to treat—they had business of their own to transact, which must be disposed of before they could see the Governor ; and so another delay was granted. But Monday did not find them ready, and they refused to begin negotiations. An intimation from the Governor that unless they were ready on the 54 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. following day he would leave for home on Wednesday, hurried them up a little—they did wait on him today, Tuesday, but only to say they had not yet finished their own business, but that they would try and be ready to treat on Wednesday. And so the matter stands at present—if the Indians agree amongst themselves, the treaty will be opened to-morrow; otherwise the Governor will strike camp and return to Fort Garry.
Divisions and local jealousies have taken possession of the Indian mind. The difficulties are the inability of the Indians to select a high or principal chief from amongst themselves, and as to the matter and extent of the demands to be made.
It is many years since these people had a general council, and in the interval many head men have died, while others have grown to man's estate, and feel ambitious to take part in the proceedings. But the fiat has gone forth, that unless a conclusion is arrived at to-morrow negotiations will be broken off for this year.
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 The North-West Angle Treaty. 55 14,000, and are represented here by Chiefs of the following bands :
1. Northwest 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 point).
October 1, 1873.
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 56 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. 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 treat with them and devise a scheme whereby both white men and Indians would be benefitted. We made to the Indians the proposals we were authorized to make, and we have carried out these proposals in good faith. This was three years ago. What we were directed to offer we did offer, but the Indians thought it was too little, and negotiations were broken off. Since this I have done what was in my power to bring about this meeting with new terms, and consider it a very happy day that you should be assembled to meet the Governor of the Territory as representative of Her Majesty. He would explain to them the proposals he had to make. He had lived long amongst them and would advise them as a friend to take the opportunity of making arrangements with the Governor. When we arrange the general matters in question, should you choose to ask anything, I shall be most happy to explain it, as I am here all the time.
The Chief in reply said his head men and young men were of one mind, and determined not to enter upon the treaty until the promises made in the past were fulfilled, they were tired of waiting. What the Commissioners called "small matters" were great to them, and were what they wished to have settled.
The route that had been built through the country proved this, and the Commissioners promised something which they now wanted.
This was taking the Commissioners on a new tack, but Mr. Dawson promptly undertook to answer the objections. He said all these questions had been discussed before; but if he had made any promises that remained unfulfilled, he would be happy to learn their nature. The Chief replied that all the houses on the line, and all the big boats on the waters, were theirs, and they wanted to be recompensed for them.
The North—West Angle Treaty. 57
Mr. Dawson continued, saying he was glad they had now come to a point on which they could deal. The Indians questioned the right of the Government to take wood for the steamers. This was a right which the speaker had all along told them was common to all Her Majesty's subjects. He then referred them to the Governor if they had anything more to say on that subject. Wood on which Indians had bestowed labor was always paid for ; but wood on which we had spent our own labor was ours.
His Excellency then addressed them at some length. He understood that they wanted to have the questions in which they were' interested treated separately. This was not what he came there for. Wood and water were the gift of the Great Spirit, and were made alike for the good of both the white man and red man. Many of his listeners had come a long way, and he, too, had come a long way, and he wanted all the questions settled at once, by one treaty. He had a message from the Queen, but if his mouth was kept shut, the responsibility would rest on the Indians, and not with him if he were prevented from delivering it. He had authority to tell them what sum of money he could give them in hand now, and what he could give them every year ; but it was for them to open his mouth. He concluded his remarks, which were forcibly delivered, with an emphatic "I have said."
The Chief reiterated that he and his young men were determined not to go on with the treaty until the first question was disposed of. What was said about the trees and rivers was quite true, but it was the Indian's country, not the white man's. Following this the Governor told the Council that unless they would settle all the matters, the big and little, at once, he would not talk. He was bound by his Government, and was of the same mind to treat with them on all questions, and not on any one separately.
On seeing His Excellency so firm, and feeling that it would not do to allow any more time to pass without coming to busi58 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians.ness the Chief asked the Governor to open his mouth and tell what propositions he was prepared to make.
His Excellency then said—"I told you I was to make the treaty on the part of our Great Mother the Queen, and I feel it will be for your good and your children's. I should have been very sorry if you had shut my mouth, if I had had to go home without opening my mouth. I should not have been a true friend of yours if I had not asked you to open my mouth. We are all children of the same Great Spirit, and are subject to the same Queen. I want to settle all matters both of the past and the present, so that the white and red man will always be friends. I will give you lands for farms, and also reserves for your own use. I have authority to make reserves such as I have described, not exceeding in all a square mile for every family of five or thereabouts. It may be a long time before the other lands are wanted, and in the meantime you will be permitted to fish and hunt over them. I will also establish schools whenever any band asks for them, so that your children may have the learning of the white man. I will also give you a sum of money for yourselves and every one of your wives and children for this year. I will give you ten dollars per head of the population, and for every other year five dollars a-head. But to the chief men, not exceeding two to each band, we will give twenty dollars a-year for ever. I will give to each of you this year a present of goods and provisions to take you home, and I am sure you will be satisfied.
After consultation amongst themselves, the Councillors went to have a talk about the matter and will meet the Governor tomorrow morning, when it is expected the bargain will be concluded. Of course. the Indians will make some other demands.
Immediately after the adjournment as above, the Governor presented an ox to the people in camp; and the way it disappeared would have astonished the natives of any other land. Half-an-hour after it was led into encampment, it was cut up and boiling in fifty pots.
The North-West Angle Treaty. 59
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 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 all, I have a few words to address to this gentleman (Mr. Dawson). When he understood rightly what was my meaning yesterday, he threw himself on your help. I think I have a right to follow him to where he flew when I spoke to him on the subject yesterday. We will follow up the subject from the point we took it up. I want to answer what we heard from you yesterday, in regard to the money that you have promised us yesterday to each individual. I want to talk about the rules that we had laid down before. It is four years back since we have made these rules. The rules laid down are the rules that they wish to follow—a council that has been agreed upon by all the Indians. I do 60 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. not wish that I should be required to say twice what I am now now going to lay down. We  ask fifteen dollars for all that you see, and for the children that are to be born in future. This year only we ask for fifteen dollars; years after ten dollars ; our Chiefs fifty dollars per year for every year, and other demands of large amounts in writing, say $125,000 yearly."
ANOTHER CHIEF—"I take my standing point from here. Our councillors have in council come to this conclusion, that they should have twenty dollars each ; our warriors, fifteen dollars; our population, fifteen dollars.   We have now laid down the conclusion of our councils by our decisions. We tell you our wishes are not divided. We are all of one mind." (Paper put in before the Governor for these demands.)
CHIEF—" I now let you know the opinions of us here. We would not wish that anyone should smile at our affairs, as we think our country is a large matter to us. If you grant us what is written on that paper, then we will talk about the reserves ; we have decided in council for the benefit of those that will be born hereafter. If you do so the treaty will be finished, I believe."
GOVERNOR—"I quite agree that this is no matter to smile at. I think that the decision of to-day is one that affects yourselves and your children after, but you must recollect that this is the third time of negotiating. If we do not shake hands and make our Treaty to-day, I do not know when it will be done, as the Queen's Government will think you do not wish to treat with her. You told me that you understood that I represented the Queen's Gove 'nment to you and that I opened my heart to you, but you must recollect that if you are a council there is another great council that governs a great Dominion, and they hold their councils the same as you hold yours. I wish to tell you that I am a servant of the Queen. I cannot do my own will ; I must do hers. I can only give you what she tells me to give you. I am sorry to see that your hands were very wide open when you gave me this paper. I thought what I pro The North-West Angle Treaty. 61mised you was just, kind and fair between the Qeeen and you. It is now three years we have been trying to settle this matter. If we do not succeed to-day I shall go away feeling sorry for you and for your children that you could not see what was good for you and for them. I am ready to do what I promised you yesterday. My hand is open and you ought to take me by the hand and say, "yes, we accept of your offer." I have not the power to do what you ask of me. I ask you once more to think what you are doing, and of those you have left at. home, and also of those that may be born yet, and I ask you not to turn your backs on what is offered to you, and you ought to see by what the Queen is offering you that she loves her red subjects as much as her white. I think you are forgetting one thing, that what I offer you is to be while the water flows and the sun rises. You know that in the United States they only pay the Indian for twenty years, and you come here to-day and ask for ever more than they get for twenty years. Is that just? I think you ought to accept my offer, and make a treaty with me as I ask you to do. I only ask you to think for yourselves, and for your families, and for your children and children's children, and I know that if you do that you will shake hands with me to-day."
CHIEF—"I lay before you our opinions. Our hands are poor but our heads are rich, and it is riches that we ask so that we may be able to support our families as long as the sun rises and the water runs."
GOVERNOR—"I am very sorry : you know it takes two to make a bargain ; you are agreed on the one side, and I for the Queen's Government on the other. I have to go away and report that I have to go without making terms with you. I doubt if the Commissioners will be sent again to assemble this nation. I have only one word more to say ; I speak to the Chief and to the head men to recollect those behind them, and those they have left at home, and not to go away without accepting such liberal terms and without some clothing."
62 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians.
CHIEF—" My terms I am going to lay down before you; the decision of our Chiefs; ever since we came to a decision you push it back. The sound of the rustling of the gold is under my feet where I stand; we have a rich country; it is the Great Spirit who gave us this; where we stand upon is the Indians' property, and belongs to them. If you grant us our requests you will not go back without making the treaty."
ANOTHER CHIEF—" We understood yesterday that the Queen had given you the power to act upon, that you could do what you pleased, and that the riches of the Queen she had filled your head and body with, and you had only to throw them round about; but it seems it is not so, but that you have only half the power that she has, and that she has only half filled your head."
GOVERNOR—" I do not like to be misunderstood. I did not say yesterday that the Queen had given me all the power; what I told you was that I was sent here to represent the Queen's Government, and to tell you what the Queen was willing to do for you. You can understand very well; for instance, one of your great chiefs asks a brave to deliver a message, he represents you, and that is how I stand with the Queen's Government."
CHIEF—"It is your charitableness that you spoke of yesterday—Her Majesty's charitableness that was given you. It is our chiefs, our young men, our children and great grandchildren, and those that are to be born, that I represent here, and it is for them I ask for terms. The white man has robbed us of our riches, and we don't wish to give them up again without getting something in their place."
GOVERNOR—" For your children, grandchildren, and children unborn, I am sorry that you will not accept of my terms. I shall go home sorry, but it is your own doing; I must simply go back and report the fact that you refuse to make a treaty with us."
CHIEF—" You see all our chiefs before you here as one mind; The North-West Angle Treaty. 63 we have one mind and one mouth. It is the decision of all of us ; if you grant us our demands you will not go back sorrowful ; we would not refuse to make a treaty if you would grant us our demands."
GOVERNOR—" I have told you already that I cannot grant your demands ; I have not the power to do so. I have made you a liberal offer, and it is for you to accept or refuse it as you please."
CHIEF—"Our chiefs have the same opinion ; they will not change their decision."
GOVERNOR—"Then the Council is at an end."
CHIEF (of Lac Seule)—" I understand the matter that he asks ; if he puts a question to me as well as to others, I say so as well as the rest. We are the first that were planted here ; we would ask you to assist us with every kind of implement to use for our benefit, to enable us to perform our work ; a little of everything and money. We would borrow your cattle ; we ask you this for our support ; I will find whereon to feed them. The waters out of which you sometimes take food for yourselves, we will lend you in return. If I should try to stop you—it is not in my power to do so ; even the Hudson's Bay Company—that is a small power—I cannot gain my point with it. If you give what I ask, the time may come when I will ask you to lend me one of your daughters and one of your sons to live with us ; and in return I will lend you one of my daughters and one of my sons for you to teach what is good, and after they have learned, to teach us. If you grant us what I ask, although I do not know you, I will shake hands with you. This is all I have to say,"
GOVERNOR—" I have heard and I have learned something. I have learned that you are not all of one mind. I know that your interests are not the same—that some of you live in the north far away from the river ; and some live on the river, and that you have got large sums of money for wood that you have cut and sold to the steamboats ; but the men in the north have 64 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. not this advantage. What the Chief has said is reasonable ; and should you want goods I mean to ask you what amount you would have in goods, so that you would not have to pay the traders' prices for them. I wish you were all of the same mind as the Chief who has just spoken. He wants his children to be taught. He is right. He wants to get cattle to help him to raise grain for his children. It would be a good thing for you all to be of his mind, and then you would not go away without making this treaty with me."
BLACKSTONE (Shebandowan)—" I am going to lay down before you the minds of those who are here. I do not wish to interfere with the decisions of those who are before you, or yet with your decisions. The people at the height of land where the waters came down from Shebandowan to Fort Frances, are those who have appointed me to lay before you our decision. We are going back to hold a Council."
Mr. Dawson—" I would ask the Chief who has just spoken, did the band at Shebandowan—did Rat McKay, authorize him to speak for them ? Ke-ha-ke-ge-nen is Blackstone's own Chief ; and I am perfectly willing to think that he authorized him. What I have to say is that the Indians may not be deceived by representations made to them, and that the two bands met me at Shebandowan and said they were perfectly willing to enter into a treaty."
GOVERNOR—" I think the nation will do well to do what the Chief has said. I think he has spoken sincerely, and it is right for them to withdraw and hold a Council among themselves."
Blackstone here handed in a paper which he alleged gave him authority as Chief, but which proved to be an official acknowledgement of the receipt of a letter by the Indian Department at Ottawa.
The Governor here agreed with the Council that it would be well for the Chiefs to have another meeting amongst themselves. It was a most important day for them and for their children, and His Excellency would be glad to meet them again.
The North-West Angle Treaty. 65
The Council broke up at this point, and it was extremely doubtful whether an agreement could be come to or not. The Rainy River Indians were careless about the treaty, because they could get plenty of money for cutting wood for the boats, but the northern and eastern bands were anxious for one. The Governor decided that he would make a treaty with those bands that were willing to accept his terms, leaving out the few disaffected ones. A Council was held by the Indians in the evening, at which Hon. James McKay, Pierre Léveillée, Charles Nolin, and Mr. Genton were present by invitation of the Chiefs. After a very lengthy and exhaustive discussion, it was decided to accept the Governor's terms, and the final meeting was announced for Friday morning. Punctually at the appointed time proceedings were opened by the Fort Francis Chiefs announcing to His Excellency that they were all of one mind, and would accept his terms, with a few modifications. The discussion of these terms occupied five hours, and met every possible contingency so fully that it would be impossible to do justice to the negotiators otherwise than by giving a full report of the speeches on both sides ; but want of space compels us to lay it over until next week.
The treaty was finally closed on Friday afternoon, and signed on Saturday ; after which a large quantity of provisions, ammunition and other goods were distributed.
When the council broke up last (Thursday) night, 3rd October, it looked very improbable that an understanding could be arrived at, but the firmness of the Governor, and the prospect that he would make a treaty with such of the bands as were willing to accept his terms, to the exclusion of the others, led them to reconsider their demands. The Hon. James McKay, and Messrs. Nolin, Genton, and Léveillée were invited in to their council, and after a most exhaustive discussion of the circumstance in which they were placed, it was resolved to accept the Governor's terms, with some modifications. Word was sent to 66 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. this effect, and at eleven o'clock on Friday, conference was again held with His Excellency.
The Fort Francis Chief opened negotiations by saying :—
"We present our compliments to you, and now we would tell you something. You have mentioned our councillors, warriors and messengers—every Chief you see has his councillors, warriors and messengers."
GOVERNOR——" I was not aware what names they gave methey gave their chief men. I spoke of the subordinates of the head Chiefs ; I believe the head Chiefs have three subordinates —I mean the head Chief and three of his head men."
CHIEF—"I am going to tell you the decision of all before you. I want to see your power and learn the most liberal terms that you can give us."
GOVERNOR—"I am glad to meet the Chiefs, and I hope it will be the last time of our meeting. I hope we are going to underderstand one-another to-day. And that I can go back and report that I left my Indian friends contented, and that I have put into their hands the means of providing for themselves and their families at home; and now I will give you my last words. When I held out my hands to you at first, I intended to do what was just and right, and what I had the power to do at once,—not to go backwards and forwards, but at once to do what I believe is just and right to you. I was very much pleased yesterday with the words of the Chief of Lac Seul. I was glad to hear that he had commenced to farm and to raise things for himself and family, and I was glad to hear him ask me to hold out my hand. I think we should do everything to help you by giving you the means to grow some food, so that if it is a bad year for fishing and hunting you may have something for your children at home. If you had not asked it the Goverment would have done it all the same, although I had not said so before. I can say this, that when a band settles down and actually commences to farm on their lands, the Government The North-West Angle Treaty. 67 will agree to give two hoes, one spade, one scythe, and one axe for every family actually settled ; one plough for every ten families ; five harrows for every twenty families ; and a yoke of oxen, a bull and four cows for every band ; and enough barley, wheat and oats to plant the land they have actually broken up. This is to enable them to cultivate their land, and it is to be given them on their commencing to do so, once for all. There is one thing that I have thought over, and I think it is a wise thing to do. That is to give you ammunition, and twine for making, nets, to the extent of $1,500 per year, for the whole nation, so that you can have the means of procuring food.-
Now, I will mention the last thing that I can do. I think that the sum I have offered you to be paid after this year for every man, woman and child now, and for years to come, is right and is the proper sum. I will not make any change in that, but we are anxious to show you that we have a great desire to understand you—that we wish to do the utmost in our power to make you contented, so that the white and the red man will always be friends. This year, instead of ten dollars we will give you twelve dollars, to be paid you at once as soon as we sign the treaty. This is the best I can do for you. I wish you to understand we do not come here as traders, but as representing the Crown, and to do what we believe is just and right. We have asked in that spirit, and I hope you will meet me in that spirit and shake hands with me-day and make a treaty for ever. I have no more to say."
CHIEF—" I wish to ask some points that I have not properly understood. We understand that our children are to have two dollars extra. Will the two dollars be paid to our principal men as well? And these things that are promised will they commence at once and will we see it year after year ?"
GOVERNOR—" I thought I had spoken fully as to everything, but I will speak again. The ammunition and twine will be got at once for you, this year, and that will be for every year. The Commissioner will see that you get this at once ; with regard 68 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. to the things to help you to farm, you must recollect, in a very few days the river will be frozen up here and we have not got these things here now. But arrangements will be made next year to get these things for those who are farming, it cannot be done before as you can see yourselves very well. Some are farming, and I hope you will all do so."
CHIEF—" One thing I did not say that is most necessary- we want a cross-cut saw, a whip saw, grindstone and files."
GOVERNOR—" We will do that, and I think we ought to give a box of common tools to each Chief of a Band."
CHIEF—" Depending upon the words you have told us, and stretched out your hands in a friendly way, I depend upon that. One thing more we demand—a suit of clothes to all of us."
GOVERNOR—" With regard to clothing, suits will be given to the Chiefs and head men, and as to the other Indians there is a quantity of goods and provisions here that will be given them at the close of the treaty. The coats of the Chiefs will be given every three years."
CHIEF—"Once more ; powder and shot will not go off without guns. We ask for guns."
GOVERNOR—"I have shewn every disposition to meet your view, but what I have promised is as far as I can go."
CHIEF—"My friends, listen to what I am going to say, and you, my brothers. We present you now with our best and our strongest compliments. We ask you not to reject some of our children who have gone out of our place ; they are scattered all over, a good tasted meat hath drawn them away, and we wish to draw them all here and be contented with us."
GOVERNOR—"If your children come and live here, of course they will become part of the population, and be as yourselves."
CHIEF—"I hope you will grant the request that I am going to lay before you. I do not mean those that get paid on the other side of the line, but some poor Indians who may happen to fall in our road. If you will accept of these little matters, the treaty will be at an end. I would not like that one of my The North-West Angle Treaty. 69 children should not eat with me, and receive the food that you are going to give me."
GOVERNOR—"I am dealing with British Indians and not American Indians ; after the treaty is closed we will have a list of the names of any children of British Indians that may come in during two years and be ranked with them ; but we must have a limit somewhere."
CHIEF—"I should not feel happy if I was not to mess with some of my children that are around me—those children that we call the Half-breed—those that have been born of our women of Indian blood. We wish that they should be counted with us, and have their share of what you have promised. We wish you to accept our demands. It is the Half-breeds that are actually living amongst us—those that are married to our women."
GOVERNOR—"I am sent here to treat with the Indians. In Red River, where I came from, and where there is a great body of Half-breeds, they must be either white or Indian. If Indians, they get treaty money ; if the Half-breeds call themselves white, they get land. All I can do is to refer the matter to the Government at Ottawa, and to recommend what you wish to be granted."
CHIEF—"I hope you will not drop the question ; we have understood you to say that you came here as a friend, and represented your charitableness, and we depend upon your kindness. You must remember that our hearts and our brains are like paper ; we never forget. There is one thing that we want to know. If you should get into trouble with the nations, I do not wish to walk out and expose my young men to aid you in any of your wars."
GOVERNOR—"The English never call the Indians out of their country to fight their battles. You are living here and the Queen expects you to live at peace with the white men and your red brothers, and with other nations."
ANOTHER CHIEF—"I ask you a question—I see your roads 70 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. here passing through the country, and some of your boatsuseful articles that you use for yourself. Bye and bye we shall see things that run swiftly, that go by fire—carriages—and we ask you that us Indians may not have to pay their passage i these things, but can go free."
GOVERNOR—"I think the best thing I can do is to become an Indian. I cannot promise you to pass on the railroad free, for it may be a long time before we get one; and I cannot promise you any more than other people."
CHIEF—"I must address myself to my friend here, as he is the one that has the Public Works."
MR. DAWSON—"I am always happy to do anything I can for you. I have always given you a passage on the boats when I could. I will act as I have done though I can give no positive promise for the future."
CHIEF—"We must have the privilege of travelling about the country where it is vacant."
MR. MCKAY—"Of course, I told them so."
CHIEF—"Should we discover any metal that was of use, could we have the privilege of putting our own price on it?"
GOVERNOR—"If any important minerals are discovered on any of their reserves the minerals will be sold for their benefit with their consent, but not on any other land that discoveries may take place upon ; as regards other discoveries, of course, the Indian is like any other man. He can sell his information if he can find a purchaser."
CHIEF—"It will be as well while we are here that everything should be understood properly between us. All of us—those behind us—wish to have their reserves marked out, which they will point out, when the time comes. There is not one tribe here who has not laid it out."
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."
The North-West Angle Treaty. 71
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 and our ways. We would ask your Excellency as a favor to appoint him for us."
GOVERNOR—"I have a very good feeling to Mr. C. Nolin, he has been a good man here ; but the appointment of an Agent rests with the authorities at Ottawa and I will bring your representation to them, and I am quite sure it will meet with the respect due to it."
CHIEF—"As regards the fire water, I do not like it and I do not wish any house to be built to have it sold. Perhaps at times if I should be unwell I might take drop just for medicine ; and shall any one insist on bringing it where we are, I should break the treaty."
GOVERNOR—"I meant to have spoken of that myself, I meant to put it in the treaty. He speaks good about it. The Queen and her Parliament in Ottawa have passed a law prohibiting the 72 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. use of it in this territory, and if any shall be brought in for the use of you as medicine it can only come in by my permission."
CHIEF—"Why we keep you so long is that it is our wish that everything should be properly understood between us."
GOVERNOR—"That is why I am here. It is my pleasure, and I want when we once shake hands that it should be forever."
CHIEF—"That is the principal article. If it was in my midst the fire water would have spoiled my happiness, and I wish it to be left far away from where I am. All the promises that you have made me, the little promises and the money you have promised, when it comes to me year after year—should I see that there is anything wanting, through the negligence of the people that have to see after these things, I trust it will be in my power to put them in prison."
GOVERNOR—"The ear of the Queen's Government will always be open to hear the complaints of her Indian people, and she will deal with her servants that do not do their duty in a proper manner."
CHIEF—"Now you have promised to give us all your names. I want a copy of the treaty that will not be rubbed off, on parchment."
GOVERNOR—"In the mean time I will give you a copy on paper, and as soon as I get back I will get you a copy on parchment."
CHIEF—"I do not wish to be treated as they were at Red River—that provisions should be stopped as it is there. Whenever we meet and have a council I wish that provisions should be given to us. We cannot speak without eating."
GOVERNOR—"You are mistaken. When they are brought together at Red River for their payments they get provisions."
CHIEF—"We wish the provisions to come from Red River."
GOVERNOR—"If the Great Spirit sends the grasshopper and there is no wheat grown in Red River, we cannot give it to you."
CHIEF—"You have come before us with a smiling face, you The North-West Angle Treaty. 73 have shown us great charity—you have promised the good things ; you have given us your best compliments and wishes, not only for once but for ever ; let there now for ever be peace and friendship between us. It is the wish of all that where our reserves are peace should reign, that nothing shall be there that will disturb peace. Now, I will want nothing to be there that will disturb peace, and will put every one that carries arms,—such as murderers and thieves—outside, so that nothing will be there to disturb our peace."
GOVERNOR—"The Queen will have policemen to preserve order, and murderers and men guilty of crime will be punished in this country just the same as she punishes them herself."
CHIEF—"To speak about the Hudson's Bay Company. If it happens that they have surveyed where I have taken my reserve, if I see any of their signs I will put them on one side."
GOVERNOR—"When the reserves are given you, you will have your rights. The Hudson's Bay Company have their rights, and the Queen will do justice between you."
CHIEF OF FORT FRANCIS—"Why I say this is, where I have chosen for my reserve I see signs that the H. B. Co. has surveyed. I do not hate them. I only wish they should take their reserves on one side. Where their shop stands now is my property ; I think it is three years now since they have had it on it."
GOVERNOR—"I do not know about that matter ; it will be enquired into. I am taking notes of all these things and am putting them on paper."
CHIEF—I will tell you one thing. You understand me now, that I have taken your hand firmly and in friendship. I repeat twice that you have done so, that these promises that you have made, and the treaty to be concluded, let it be as you promise, as long as the sun rises over our head and as long as the water runs. One thing I find, that deranges a little my kettle. In this river, where food used to be plentiful for our subsistence, 74 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. I perceive it is getting scarce. We wish that the river should be left as it was formed from the beginning—that nothing be broken."
GOVERNOR—"This is a subject that I cannot promise."
MR. DAWSON—"Anything that we are likely to do at present cut will not interfere with the fishing, but no one can tell what the future may require, and we cannot enter into any engagement."
CHIEF—"We wish the Government would assist us in getting a few boards for some of us who are intending to put up houses this fall, from the mill at Fort Francis."
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 practised.] 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 to the Governor and said :-
The North- West Angle Treaty. 75
"Now you see me stand before you all ; what has been done here to-day has been done openly before the Great Spirit, and .' before the nation, and I hope that I may never hear any one say that this treaty has been done secretly; and now, in closing this Council, I take off my glove, and in giving you my hand, I deliver over my birth-right and lands; and in taking your hand, I hold fast all the promises you have made, and I hope , they will last as long as the sun goes round and the water flows, as you have said."
The Governor then took his hand and said:
"I accept your hand and with it the lands, and will keep all my promises, in the firm belief that the treaty now to be signed will bind the red man and the white together as friends for ever."
A copy of the treaty was then prepared and duly signed, after which a large amount of presents, consisting of pork, flour, clothing, blankets, twine, powder and shot, etc., were distributed to the several bands represented on the ground.
On Saturday, Mr. Pether, Local Superintendent of Indian Affairs at Fort Francis, and Mr. Graham of the Government Works, began to pay the treaty money—an employment that kept them busy far into the night. Some of the Chiefs received as much as one hundred and seventy dollars for themselves and families.
As soon as the money was distributed the shops of the H. B. Co., and other resident traders were visited, as well as the tents of numerous private traders, who had been attracted thither by the prospect of doing a good business. And while these shops all did a great trade—the H. B. Co. alone taking in $4,000 in thirty hours—it was a noticeable fact that many took home with them nearly all their money. When urged to buy goods there, a frequent reply was : " If we spend all our money here and go home and want debt, we will be told to get our debt where we spent our money. "Debt" is used by them instead of the word "credit." Many others deposited money with 76 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. white men and Half-breeds on whose honor they could depend, to be called for and spent at Fort Garry when "the ground froze."
One very wonderful thing that forced itself on the attention of every one was the perfect order that prevailed throughout the camp, and which more particularly marked proceedings in the council. Whether the demands put forward were granted by the Governor or not, there was no petulance, no ill-feeling, evinced ; but everything was done with a calm dignity that was pleasing to behold, and which might be copied with advantage by more pretentious deliberative assemblies.
On Sunday afternoon, the Governor presented an ox to the nation, and after it had been eaten a grand dance was indulged in. Monday morning the river Indians took passage on the steamer for Fort Francis, and others left in their canoes for their winter quarters.
The Governor and party left on Monday morning, the troops, under command of Captain McDonald, who had conducted themselves with the greatest propriety, and had contributed, by the moral effect of their presence, much to the success of the negotiation, having marched to Fort Garry on Saturday morning.


Morris, Alexander. The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories Including the Negotiations on Which They Are Based, and Other Information Relating Thereto.. Toronto: Willing & Williamson, 1880. Digitized by University of Alberta Libraries.



Selection of input documents and completion of metadata: Gordon Lyall.

Notes de bas de page:

  • * Mr. Dawson succeeded in obtaining the adhesion to the treaty of the Chiefs in question.

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