Treaty Negotiations, September 1876 to September 1877, Between Canada and First Nations of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.

The Blackfeet Treaty. 245


THE making of this treaty, which completed the series of treaties, extending from Lake Superior to the slopes of the Rocky Mountains, was entrusted, by the Privy Council, to the Hon. David Laird (who, after the effecting of the Carlton and Fort Pitt Treaties, had, in 1876, been appointed Lieutenant- Governor of the North-West Territories, subsequently to the erection of these territories into a distinct Government) and Lieut.-Col. McLeod, of the Mounted Police Force. The necessity which had arisen for making the treaty is thus stated by the Hon. the Minister of the Interior, the Hon. David Mills, in his Annual Report for 1877 :
" The conclusion, in 1876, of the treaty with the Crees, Assini. boine and Saulteaux Indians (being the sixth of the series of treaties up to that time negotiated with the Indians of the North-West) left but a small portion of the territory lying between the boundary line and the 54th parallel of latitude unsurrendered.
" The unsurrendered portion of the territory, including about fifty thousand square miles, lies at the south-west angle of the territories, north of the boundary line, east of the Rocky Mountains, south of Red River (Treaty Number Six) and west of the Cypress Hills, or Treaty Number Four. This portion of the North-West is occupied by the Blackfeet, Blood, and Sarcees or Piegan Indians, some of the most warlike and intelligent but intractable bands of the North-West. These bands have for years past been anxiously expecting to be treated with, and have been much disappointed at the delay of negotiations.
246 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians.
" In last year's report, I stated that His Honor Lieut.-Gov. Morris, very strongly recommended that no further delay should take place in entering into negotiations with these Indians. His Honor reported, in effect, "that there was a general consent of opinion amongst the missionaries settled in that territory, and others who are acquainted with these Indians, as to the desirableness of having such a treaty made at the earliest possible date, with a view to preserving the present friendly disposition of these tribes, which might easily give place to feelings of an unfriendly or hostile nature, should the treaty negotiations be much longer delayed."
"In view of these facts, and in order to satisfy these important tribes, and to prevent the difficulties which might hereafter arise through the settlement of whites, who are already flocking into Fort McLeod and other portions of this territory, Your Excellency decided that these Indians should be treated with this year, and the Indians were notified accordingly.
"His Honor Mr. Laird, the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Territories and Lieut.-Col. James F. McLeod, C.M.G., were selected by Your Excellency to negotiate the treaty. The former of these gentlemen, had assisted in 1874 in negotiating Treaty Number Four, with the Cree and Saulteaux Indians, and the latter, during his residence for some years past at Fort McLeod, as Commandant of the Mounted Police Force, had acquired the entire confidence and good will of the Indian tribes proposed to be dealt with."
Besides all this, the Chiefs of the Blackfeet, in 1876, sent to the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Territories, a letter, with regard to a treaty, and also by a messenger, in whom they had confidence, a message, to a similar effect. The Blackfeet Indians are a bold and warlike race. When the Sioux war with the United States was about being initiated, the Sioux invited them to join in the war, but they promptly refused. They are unlikely to become farmers, but as the country they inhabit presents unusual facilities for that industry, The Blackfeet Treaty. 247 they may be induced to adopt a pastoral life. They already possess large herds of horses, and may be taught to raise cattle also.
I requested the Rev. C. Scollen, who had for many years been a missionary among the Plain Crees, and latterly, for several years, among the Blackfeet, to make a report to me of the character, habits and condition of this nation, with which request he willingly complied. I now give place to this report, which gives a vivid view of the character of this bold and warlike race, and shews the benefits they had, so far back as 1876, derived from the presence of the Mounted Police, the prohibition of liquor, and the establishment of law and order in the North-West Territories, under Canadian rule. I may here remark, that another great benefit has resulted from the judicious steps taken by the Canadian Government, and that is the cessation of warfare between the various tribes, which was before of constant occurrence. An intelligent Ojibbeway Indian trader told me, that the change was wonderful. "Before," he said, "the Queen's Government came, we were never safe, and now," he said, "I can sleep in my tent anywhere, and have no fear. I can go to the Blackfeet, and Cree camps, and they treat me as a friend." The report of Mr. Scollen is as follows:
FORT PITT, September 8th, 1876.
EXCELLENT GOVERNOR,—Having had some years of experience as a missionary amongst the Cree and Blackfeet Indians of the North-West Territory, I humbly undertake to submit to your consideration a few details regarding the latter tribe of Her Majesty's Indian subjects. I do this with all the more confidence as the successful way in which you conducted the treaty with the Carlton Indians (a treaty including no small difficulties), has convinced me of your thorough knowledge of the character of this people. But, although the general character of all the tribes may be nearly the same, yet in their social dispositions they sometimes materially differ, and this, I think, will be found to be the case with the Crees and Blackfeet when compared on that point. The Crees have always looked upon the white man as a friend, or, to use their own language, as a brother. They have never been afraid of him. nor have they given him any cause to be afraid of them. The Blackfeet have acted somewhat differently; they have regarded the white man as a demi-god, far superior to themselves in intelligence, capable of doing them 248 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. good or evil, according as he might be well or ill-disposed towards them, unscrupulous in his dealings with others, and consequently a person to be flattered, feared and shunned, and even injured, whenever this could be done with impunity. I am not now describing the Blackfeet of the present day, but those of fifteen years ago, when I first saw them. They were then a proud, haughty, numerous people (perhaps ten thousand on the British side of the line), having a regular politico-religious organization by which their thirst for blood and their other barbarous passions were constantly fired to the highest pitch of frenzy. Since that time their number has decreased to less than one half, and their systematic organizations have fallen into decay ; in fact they have been utterly demoralized as a people. This sudden decadence was brought on by two causes : 1. About ten years ago the Americans crossed the line and established themselves on Pelly River, where they carried on to an extraordinary extent the illicit traffic in intoxicating liquor to the Blackfeet. The fiery water flowed as freely, if I may use the metaphor, as the streams running from the Rocky Mountains, and hundreds of the poor Indians fell victims to the white man's craving for money, some poisoned, some frozen to death whilst in a state of intoxication, and many shot down by American bullets. 2. Then in 1870 came that disease so fatal to Indians, the small-pox, which told upon the Blackfeet with terrible effect, destroying between six hundred and eight hundred of them. Surviving relatives went more and more for the use of alcohol; they endeavoured to drown their grief in the poisonous beverage. They sold their robes and their horses by the hundred for it, and now they began killing one another, so that in a short time they were divided into several small parties, afraid to meet. Fortunately for them the Government were aware of the state of affairs in the country and did not remain indifferent to it ; and, as I have heard yourself explain to the Indians, Her Gracious Majesty has at heart the welfare of even the most obscure of her subjects. In the summer of 1874, I was travelling amongst the Blackfeet. It was painful to me to see the state of poverty to which they had been reduced. Formerly they had been the most opulent Indians in the country, and now they were clothed in rags, without horses and without guns. But this was the year of their salvation ; that very summer the Mounted Police were struggling against the difficulties of a long journey across the barren plains in order to bring them help. This noble corps reached their destination that same fall, and with magic effect put an entire stop to the abominable traffic of whiskey with the Indians. Since that time the Blackfeet Indians are becoming more and more prosperous. They are now well clothed and well furnished with horses and guns. During the last two years I have calculated that they have bought two thousand horses to replace those they had given for whiskey. They are forced to acknowledge that the arrival of the Red Coats has been to them the greatest boon. But, although they are externally so friendly to the Police and other strangers who now inhabit their country, yet underneath this friendship remains hidden some of that dread which they have The Blackfeet Treaty. 249 always had of the white man's intention to cheat them; and here, excellent Governor, I will state my reasons for believing that a treaty should be concluded with them also at the earliest possible date.
1st. The Blackfeet are extremely jealous of what they consider their country, aud never allowed any white men, Half- breeds, or Crees to remain in it for any length of time ; the only reason that they never drove the Americans off, apart from their love for whiskey, was their dread of the Henri rifle.
2nd. They have an awful dread of the future. They think that the Police are in the country not only to keep out whiskey traders, but also to protect white people against them, and that this country will be gradually taken from them without any ceremony. This I can certify, for although they may not say so to others yet they do not hide it from me.
3rd. Numbers of people are settling around Fort McLeod and Fort Calgary in order to farm, raise stock, etc. This will probably drive the buffalo away through time from the ordinary hunting grounds, and if so, the Blackfeet, being the most helpless Indians in the country, and unaccustomed to anything else but hunting buffalo, would suffer extremely.
4th. The settlers also are anxious that a treaty he made as soon as possible, so that they may know what portions of land they can hold without fear of being molested.
5th. The Blackfeet themselves are expecting to have a mutual understanding with the Government, because they have been told of it by several persons, and namely by Gen. Smythe last year.
Such are the principal reasons which occur to my mind for making a treaty with the Blackfeet. It remains for you, excellent Governor, to weigh their value. Of course you would find the same prejudices amongst the Blackfeet that you have found amongst the Crees, but you would have no greater difficulty in dispelling them. You would have four clans to treat with, viz. : the Blackfeet, Bloods, and Piegans, all of the same tribe, and the Sarcees, a branch of the Peace River Indians called Beavers. As to the place of rendezvous there would be no difficulty whatever, the Blackfeet live in large camps under their respective Chiefs, and could go to any point after due notice.
It remains for me now, excellent Governor, to beg you to excuse the many defects of this communication, and to accept the assurance of sincere esteem and profound respect of
Your most humble servant. CONSTANTINE SCOLLEN, Priest, 0. U. I.
P.S.—I am also aware that the Sioux Indians, now at war with the Americans, have sent a message to the Blackfeet tribe, asking them to make an alliance offensive and defensive against all white people in the country.
250 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians.
In order to effect a treaty, Lieut.-Gov. Laird, and Lieut-Col. James F. McLeod, met the Blackfeet, at the Blackfoot crossing, on the Bow River, on the 17th day of September, 1877, which day had been selected for the time of meeting. Gov. Laird proceeded from the temporary seat of the Government of the North-West Territories at Swan River, and Col. McLeod from Fort McLeod, the head-quarters of the Mounted Police, to the appointed rendezvous.
The Commissioners met the Indians on that day, and after five days of tedious negotiations, the treaty was satisfactorily concluded, and signed by the Chiefs and head men present.
The total number of the Indians, represented at the making of the treaty, and who were paid the gratuity under it, was four thousand three hundred and ninety-two. The terms of the treaty, were substantially the same as those contained in the North-West Angle and Qu'Appelle treaties, except that as some of the bands were disposed to engage in pastoral pursuits, it was arranged to give them cattle instead of agricultural implements. The Minister of the Interior well observes in his report "that the conclusion of this treaty with these warlike and intractable tribes, at a time when the Indian tribes, immediately across the border, were engaged in open hostilities with the United States troops, is certainly a conclusive proof of the just policy of the Government of Canada toward the aboriginal population," and, I add, of the confidence of the Indians in the promises and just dealing of the servants of the British Crown, in Canada ; a confidence that can only be kept up by the strictest observance of the stipulations of the treaties.
I now append the interesting despatch of Lieut.-Gov. Laird, giving a detailed account of the negotiation of the treaty, and a report of the speeches of the Commissioners and Indians, extracted from a report in the Globe newspaper, dated October 4th, 1877, which, though not authentic, I believe, gives a general view of what passed during the negotiations.
The Blackfeet Treaty. 251
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 it difficult to manage the scow, the horses, with the vehicles and their contents, were safely ferried before sunset. On the following evening I reached the Elbow, and the morning thereafter before leaving camp, Inspector Walker, of Battleford, drove up, on his way to Carlton, to arrange for the distribution of certain of the articles intended for the Indians of Treaty Number Six, which had not arrived when he paid the annuities at that post in the early part of the month.   Some of the Indians had not dispersed since they received their payments, and interested parties were causing dissatisfaction among them by reporting that the provisions intended for them, while assembled to receive their annuities, having now arrived, should be distributed to them, as well as the agricultural implements and other articles promised.
I advised Inspector Walker to distribute to those Indians still around Carlton their share of the presents, and to give them a small quantity of provisions from the Government supplies, to enable them to proceed without delay to their hunting grounds.   I then continued my journey to Battleford, which I reached on Monday, the 24th, at noon. Here I was happy to meet Major Irvine, who had come straight from Fort McLeod, across the Great Plains, to conduct me on my journey, and to inform me that for satisfactory reasons adduced by Crowfoot, the leading chief of the Blackfeet, Lieut.-Col. McLeod, my associate Commissioner, had consented that the meeting of the treaty should be held at the Blackfoot crossing of the Bow River, instead of at Fort McLeod. Major Irvine had reached Battleford only 252 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. a few hours before me, and having a Blackfoot Indian as guide, I abandoned my intention of going to Fort McLeod by Cypress Hills, and resolved to take the more direct and much shorter course by which that officer came.
On Friday I had interviews with several parties on business, among whom were Red Pheasant, the Chief of the Battle River Crees, and a portion of his band. He desired explanations about the articles promised in the treaty of last year, and the reason they were so late in being forwarded. I explained that the unusually heavy rains in Manitoba and the eastern portion of the territories had made the travelling so bad that the freighters had not been able to overtake the journey in the time which they expected ; that the Government were very sorry at the disappointment, as it was their desire to faithfully carry out all their promises. The officers here had done their best to meet the difficulty and satisfy the Indians, though at no little expense to the country.
The Chief appeared to be quite satisfied with the explanation, and after some further conversation about the reserve, which he desires to be located at Eagle Hills, he and his companions retired to their lodges, situated for the present close to the south side of Battle River, under the bank in front of Government House.
Inspector Walker having kindly given instructions to the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Mounted Police in his absence, that every assistance in his power was to be afforded to me for continuing my journey, I was enabled to leave Battleford for Fort McLeod with Major Irvine, on the 25th August. Besides us two, the party consisted of four police constables, my personal servant and the guide.
For the first day we followed a trail leading southward, but afterwards our course was across the trackless plains until we approached near our destination. On the third day out we first sighted buffalo, and every day subsequently that we travelled, except the last, we saw herds of the animals. Most of the herds, however, were small, and we remarked with regret that very few calves of this season were to be seen. We observed portions of many buffalo carcasses on our route, from not a few of which the peltries had not been removed. From this circumstance, as well as from the fact that many of the skins are made into parchments and coverings for lodges, and are used for other purposes, I concluded that the export of buffalo robes from the territories does not indicate even one-half the number of those valuable animals slaughtered annually in our country.
Antelope, though not very abundant, are widely scattered over the plains. The numerous lakelets abound with water fowl. Some of the pools contain alkali, but we experienced no inconvenience on the journey from scarcity of fresh water. The grass in many places is short and thin, but in the hollows feed for horses is easily obtained. Altogether, though the plains are perfectly treeless, not even a shrub being visible, a journey across them in fine weather, such as we experienced, when the " buffalo chips " are sufficiently dry to make a good camp fire, is not disagreeable.
The Blackfeet Treaty. 253
On the afternoon of the 29th we reached the lowest ford of the Red Deer River, one hundred and sixty-eight miles, by our course, from Battleford. On the north side of the river at this ford there is quicksand. The water too, in mid-stream, was deep enough to flow over the side-boards of our waggons, and at one place the current was dangerously rapid. After repeated trials by some of the men on horseback to find the best footing, we made the attempt, and the whole party got safely across by night-fall. On Saturday evening, the 1st of September, we arrived at the Blackfoot crossing of the Bow River, one hundred and eighteen miles from where we forded the Red Deer River. The Bow River is a noble stream. The current is pretty rapid, but at this "ridge under the water" (which is the literal translation of the Blackfoot name for the ford) the bed of the river is pebbly and the footing consequently good. Though we found the water almost as deep as at the Red Deer River, yet under the guidance of Mr. French, a small trader who lives near the ford, we, without almost any delay, crossed bravely over and camped until Monday morning on the south bank of the for river.
At this crossing, where the Indians had latterly been notified to assemble for the treaty, there is a beautiful river bottom on the south side of the river. It extended about one mile back from the river, and is some three miles in length.   The river, as far as the eye can reach, is skirted close to the water by a narrow belt of cotton-wood and other trees.
When I surveyed the clear waters of the stream, the fuel and shelter which the wood afforded, the excellent herbage on hill and dale, and the Indians camped in the vicinity crossing and re-crossing the river on the "ridge" with ease and safety, I was not surprised that the Blackfeet were attached to the locality, and desired that such an important event in their history as concluding a treaty with Her Majesty's Commissioners should take place at this spot.
On Saturday evening and Sunday several of the Indians called to shake hands with me, among whom was the Rainy Chief of the North Bloods. Here also I met Monsieur Jean L. Heureux, a French Canadian, who had spent nearly twenty years of his life among the Blackfeet. From him I obtained much valuable information respecting the numbers and wishes of the Indians, together with an elaborate list of the different Chiefs and minor Chiefs of the Blackfeet, Bloods, Piegans, and Sarcees, with the principal families of their respective tribes and clans of divisions. This list the Commissioners found very useful in enabling them to understand the relative influence of the several Chiefs and the strength of their bands.
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 Crees and Half-breeds, and several hunting parties of Blackfeet. The former generally use carts in travelling, but the Blackfeet and their associates are always on horseback.
The Crees appeared friendly, but were not so demonstrative as the Black 254 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. feet, 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 efficient manner. The villagers presented me with an address of welcome, and altogether my reception at Fort McLeod was such as to satisfy the most fastidious lover of display, and more than enough to satisfy the writer.
At Fort McLeod, on my arrival, I received your despatch of first August, covering the Commission relating to the Treaty and a copy of the Order in Council of 12th July, in terms of which the commission was issued. Also your letter of 27th July, informing me that it had been thought desirable to place the services of the Rev. Father Lacombe at the disposal of the Commissioners while negotiating the treaty. A few days afterwards I was sorry to learn by telegraph that the reverend gentleman had been taken by illness on the journey and would be unable to be present at the meeting with the Indians. Here, however, I was happy to meet Rev. Father Scollen, a Roman Catholic missionary, who has labored for some years among the Crees and Blackfeet in the western portion of the territories. He kindly furnished me such information as he possessed, and afterwards went to the treaty, where his assistance was of some value, particularly in dealing with the Crees present.
While at the fort I had interviews with several of the Blood Chiefs, who called upon me to inquire if they could not be treated with there instead of at Bow River. I explained that hereafter the Government would endeavor to pay them their annuities at places most convenient for them, but that on the occasion of making a treaty it was desirable that the several Chiefs and their principal head men should meet together to talk over the matter, so that all might feel that they had been consulted as to the terms of the agreement. They went away satisfied, said they would do as the Great Father advised, and go to Bow River.
I cannot speak too highly of the kind manner in which the officers and men of the Mounted Police at Fort McLeod treat their Indian visitors. Though the red man is somewhat intrusive. I never heard a harsh word employed in asking him to retire. The beneficial effects of this treatment, of the exclusion of intoxicants from the country, and of impartially admin The Blackfeet Treaty. 255 istering justice to whites and Indians alike, were apparent in all my interviews with the Indians.   They always spoke of the officers of the Police in the highest terms, and of the Commander of the Force, Lieut.-Col. McLeod, especially as their great benefactor.   The leading Chiefs of the Blackfeet and kindred tribes, declared publicly at the treaty that had it not been for the Mounted Police they would have all been dead ere this time.
  Having rested a week after my tedious journey of over seven hundred miles, I then occupied myself for a few days in viewing the surrounding country. In the village I found some excellent stores, supplied with almost every article of dry goods, hardware and groceries, that any inland community requires.   Notably among these were the stores of J. G. Baker & Co. and Messrs. T. C. Power &, Bro. There is also a good blacksmith's shop in the village, in which coal is used from the Pelly River, at a place some twenty miles distant from Fort McLeod. I was told by the proprietor of the shop that the coal answers tolerably well for blacksmithing purposes, and in the fort it is extensively used for fuel. It burns nearly as well in a stove as some varieties of Pictou coal.
  The land around the fort, and indeed for almost the whole distance between the Bow and Old Man's Rivers, is well adapted for grazing ; and where cultivation has been fairly attempted this season, grain and vegetables have been a success. In short, I have very little doubt that this portion of the territories, before many years, will abound in herds of cattle, and be dotted with not a few comfortable homesteads.
Lieut.-Col. McLeod having attended to forwarding the supplies to Bow River, which had been previously delivered at the fort, left for the Blackfoot crossing with some eighty officers and men of the Police Force, on Wednesday, the 12th September. I followed on Friday, and reached Bow River on Sunday morning. The Police having arrived on Saturday, the Commissioners were fully prepared for business on Monday, the 17th, the day which I had from the first appointed for the opening of the treaty negotiations.
The Commissioners were visited by Crowfoot, the principal Chief of the Blackfeet, shortly after their arrival. He desired to know when he and his people might meet us. We ascertained that most of the Indians on the ground were Blackfeet and Assiniboines or Stonies, from the upper part of Bow River. But as the 17th was the day named, the Commissioners determined to adhere to the appointment, and sent a messenger early in the morning to invite the Indians camped around to meet them at the council tent at two o'clock, p.m.
Half an hour before the time appointed a gun was fired as a signal for the Indians to assemble. The meeting was well attended. The Chiefs came forward first and were introduced to the Commissioners, and their followers, on being invited, sat up close to the tent.
I addressed them, stating that the Queen's Government had last year promised that they would this year be visited by Commissioners to invite 256 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. them to make a treaty. That months ago I had named this very day to meet them, and that in accordance with the promises made, the Commissioners were now here to discuss the terms of a treaty. Yet as we had learned that very few of the Bloods, Sarcees or Piegans had arrived, we would not unduly press forward the negotiations, but wait until Wednesday to give the others time to arrive.
The Indians listened attentively to what was said, and several of the Chiefs expressed their satisfaction at not being asked to meet us on the morrow. The Commissioners then told them there were rations provided for them by the Government, and that those who were in need of provisions might apply to certain of the Police officers detailed to see to their proper distribution.
The Stonies and one Blood Chief applied for flour, tea, sugar and tobacco, but said they were not then in need of beef. Crowfoot and some other Chiefs under his influence would not accept any rations until they would hear what terms the Commissioners were prepared to offer them. He appeared to be under the impression that if the Indians were fed by the bounty of the Government they would be committed to the proposals of the Commissioners, whatever might be their nature. Though I feared this refusal did not augur well for the final success of the negotiations, yet I could not help wishing that other Indians whom I have seen, had a little of the spirit in regard to dependence upon the Government exhibited on this occasion by the great Chief of the Blackfeet.
Among the visitors at the treaty I was pleased to meet the Rev. John McDougall, Wesleyan missionary at Morley Ville, and son of the late lamented Rev. George McDougall, so well and favourably known in connection with Indian affairs in the North-West. Mr. McDougall was present at the first interview the Commissioners held with the Indians, and acted as interpreter for the Stonies, who do not understand the Blackfoot language. He, as well as the Rev. C. Scollen, rendered the Commissioners all the assistance in their power. Traders, with large supplies of goods, were arriving on the ground. They desired to erect buildings of logs to protect their property, but as some of the Indian Chiefs objected to the trees along the river being cut down for such a purpose until after the treaty, the Commissioners deemed it prudent, to prevent complications, to ask the traders to erect only temporary stanchions sufficient to support canvas coverings. They complied with our wishes, and the Indians gave us no further trouble on the subject.
On the evening of Monday I also received a message from Bobtail, a Cree Chief, who, with the larger portion of the band, had come to the treaty grounds. He represented that he had not been received into any treaty. He, however, had not attended the meeting that day, because he was uncertain whether the Commissioners would be willing to receive him along with the Blackfeet. I asked him and his band to meet the Commissioners separate from the other Indians on the following day.
The Blackfeet Treaty. 257
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 Crees, 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 o'clock on Wednesday. An outline was given of the terms proposed for their acceptance. We also informed them we did not expect an answer that day, but we hoped to hear from them to-morrow.
That day we again intimated to the Indians that rations would be delivered to such as applied for them. We told them the provisions were a present, and their acceptance would not be regarded as committing the Chiefs to the terms proposed by the Commissioners. Most of the Chiefs at once applied for flour, tea, sugar and tobacco, and in a day or two they also asked for meat. Even Crowfoot, at last thankfully accepted his share of the rations, and the beef cattle began to decrease rapidly.
On Tuesday we met the Indians at the usual hour. We further explained the terms outlined to them yesterday, dwelling especially upon the fact that by the Canadian Law their reserves could not be taken from them, occupied or sold, without their consent. They were also assured that their liberty of hunting over the open prairie would not be interfered with, so long as they did not molest settlers and others in the country.
We then invited the Chiefs to express their opinions. One of the minor Blood Chiefs made a long speech. He told us the Mounted Police had been in the country for four years, and had been destroying a quantity of wood. For this wood he asked the Commissioners should make the Indians a present payment of fifty dollars a head to each Chief, and thirty dollars a head to all others. He said the Blackfeet, Bloods, Sarcees and Piegans were all one; but he asked that the Crees and Half-breeds should be sent back to their own country. The Queen, he remarked, had sent the police to protect them; they had made it safe for Indians to sleep at night, and he hoped she would not soon take these men away.
258 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians.
Crowfoot said he would not speak until to-morrow. Old Sun, another influential Blackfoot Chief, said the same. Eagle Tail, the head Chief of the Piegans, remarked that he had always followed the advice the officers of the Mounted Police gave him. He hoped the promise which the Commissioners made would be secured to them as long as the sun shone and water run. The Stony Chiefs unreservedly expressed their willingness to accept the terms offered.
Fearing that some of the Indians might regard the demands of the Blood Chief who had spoken, if not promptly refused, as agreed to, I told them he had asked too much. He had admitted the great benefit the Police had been to the Indians, and yet he was so unreasonable as to ask that the Government should pay a large gratuity to each Indian for the little wood their benefactors had used. On the contrary, I said, if there should be any pay in the matter it ought to come from the Indians to the Queen for sending them the Police. Hereupon, Crowfoot and the other Chiefs laughed heartily at the Blood orator of the day.
I also said the Commissioners could not agree to exclude the Crees and Half-breeds from the Blackfoot country ; that they were the Great Mother's children as much as the Blackfeet and Bloods, and she did not wish to see any of them starve. Of course the Crees and Half-breeds could be prosecuted for trespassing on their reserves. In this the Indian Act secured them. The Local Government had passed a law to protect the buffalo. It would have a tendency to prevent numbers from visiting their country in the close season. But to altogether exclude any class of the Queen's subjects, as long as they obeyed the laws, from coming into any part of the country, was contrary to the freedom which she allowed her people, and the Commissioners would make no promise of the kind.
On the following morning there was a rumor that the Indians in their own Councils could not agree, that a small party was opposed to making a treaty. The opposition, however, could not have been very formidable. The principal Chiefs seemed fully to understand the importance of accepting some terms. About noon, Crowfoot, with Mr. L'Heureux, as interpreter, came to my tent and asked for explanations on some points, which I cheerfully gave him. During the forenoon a large party of Bloods came in, among whom was Bad Head, an aged minor Blood Chief, of considerable influence, who attended the meeting in the afternoon.
When the Commissioners intimated that they were ready to hear what the Chiefs had to say, Crowfoot was the first to speak. His remarks were few, but he expressed his gratitude for the Mounted Police being sent to them, and signified his intention to accept the treaty. The Blood Chief who made the large demands on the previous day said he would agree with the other Chiefs. Old Sun, head Chief of the North Blackfeet, said Crowfoot spoke well. We are not going to disappoint the Commissioners. He was glad they were all agreed to the same terms. They wanted cattle, guns, ammunition, tobacco, axes and money. Bull's Head, the principal Chief of The Blackfeet Treaty. 259 the Sarcees, said, we are all going to take your advice. Eagle Head, the Piegan head Chief, remarked, "I give you my hand. We all agree to what Crowfoot says." Rainy Chief, head of the North Bloods, said he never went against the white man's advice. Some of the minor Chiefs spoke to the same effect.
The Commissioners expressed their satisfaction at the unanimity among the Indians, and said they would prepare the treaty and bring it to-morrow for signature. The only difficult matter then to be arranged was the reserves. The Commissioners thought it would take unnecessary time to discuss this question in open meeting, and resolved that one of them should visit the head Chiefs at their camps, and consult them separately as to the localities they might desire to select. Lieut.-Col. McLeod undertook this duty, while I attended to the preparation of the draft treaty. He succeeded so well in his mission that we were able to name the places chosen in the treaty.
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 had 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 the negotiations.
I may mention in this connection that on Saturday also I was waited upon by a deputation of Half-breeds, who presented me with a petition, expressing the hope that the buffalo law might not be stringently enforced during the approaching winter, and praying that they might receive some assistance to commence farming. With respect to the buffalo ordinance, I told them that the notice having been short, the law would not be very strictly enforced for the first winter, and in regard to their prayer for assistance to farm, I said I would make it known at Ottawa.
On Monday, the 24th, the Commissioners met the Indians at ten a.m. Some minor Chiefs who had not remained until the close of the proceedings on Saturday signed the treaty this morning. The Chiefs were then asked 260 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. to stand up in a body, their names were read over and the Indians once more asked to say whether they were their recognized Chiefs. Heavy Shield, a brother of Old Sun, at the request of the latter, took the place of head Chief of his band. It was, however, ascertained that this arrangement caused dissatisfaction, and Old Sun was restored to his position, and the band adhering to his brother, was called the " Middle Blackfoot Band."
After their names were called over, I gave the head Chiefs of the Blackfeet, Blood, Piegans, and Sarcees their flags and uniforms, and invested them with their medals.
While I was shaking hands with them, acknowledging their Chiefs in the name of the Great Mother, the band played " God Save the Queen." The payments were then immediately begun by the officers of the Mounted Police, one party taking the Blackfeet, and another the Bloods, while a third was detailed to pay the Assiniboines, or Stonies, near their encampment some two miles up the river.
The Commissioners went in the afternoon with the latter party, and before the payments were commenced, presented the Chiefs with their medals, flags and uniforms. The Stonies received us with quite a demonstration. They are a well-behaved body of Indians. The influence of the Christian missionary in their midst is apparent, polygamy being now almost wholly a thing of the past.
On Tuesday I took the adhesion of Robtail, the Cree Chief, and his band, to Treaty Number Six, and they were paid out of the funds which I had brought with me from Swan River.
On the invitation of the Blackfeet, Blood, and kindred Chiefs, the Commisioners went on Wednesday to the Council tent to receive an address of thanks. A large number of Indians were present. Mr. L'Heureux spoke on their behalf, and expressed their gratitude to the Commissioners generally for the kind manner in which they conducted the negotiations, to me personally for having come so far to meet them, and to Lieut.-Col. McLeod for all that he and the Mounted Police had done for them since their arrival in the country.
To this address the Commissioners feelingly replied, and expressed their confidence that the Indians before them would not regret having agreed to the treaty.
The Cree Chief and his band also waited upon us in the evening at my tent, and through Father Scollen, as interpreter, thanked us for the manner in which we had treated them. The presents sent for the Indians were distributed to each band, after payment. On Wednesday also the Commissioners drove to see the coal seam about five miles east of the Blackfoot crossing. Under the guidance of Mr. French, they found an outcrop of the seam at a coulee some three miles south of the river. The seam there is from three to ten feet in thickness, and the coal, some of which was burned every day in the officers' mess tent at the treaty, is of a very fair quality.
About noon on Friday the payments were completed, and the Commis The Blackfeet Treaty. 261 sioners 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 Councillors . . . . . 40 at 15 600
Men, women and children . . . . . . 4,342 at 12 52,104
Total . . . . . . . . 4,392 $52,954
The Crees 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
Councillors . . . . . . . . . . . . . 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 Fort McLeod deserve more than a passing notice, as they did much to enliven the whole proceedings.
The Commissioners at first had not a good interpreter of the Blackfoot language, but on Wednesday they secured the services of Mr. Bird, a brother of the late Dr. Bird, of Winnipeg. He has been many years among the Piegans and Blackfeet, and is a very intelligent interpreter. Mr. L'Heureux also rendered good service in this respect.
The accounts being closed and certified to by the Commissioners, I commenced my return journey on the evening of the 28th September. I came by a crossing of the Red Deer River some fifteen miles east of the Hand Hills, travelled across the prairies further west than my former route, and arrived at Battleford on the evening of Saturday, the 6th of October.
I transmit herewith the treaty as signed by the Commissioners and Chiefs, and also the adhesion of the Cree Chief to Treaty Number Six.
In conclusion I beg to offer a few observations on the treaty, and subjects connected therewith.
1. With respect to the reserves, the Commissioners thought it expedient to settle at once their location, subject to the approval of the Privy Council. By this course it is hoped that a great deal of subsequent trouble in selecting reserves will be avoided. The object of the ten years' reserve on 262 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. the south side of Bow River is to keep hunters from building winter shanties on the river bottom. This practice has a tendency to alarm the buffalo, and keep them from their feeding grounds on the lower part of the river. After ten years it is feared the buffalo will have become nearly extinct, and that further protection will be needless. At any rate by that time the Indians hope to have herds of domestic cattle. The country on the upper part of the Bow River is better adapted for settlement than most of that included in the Blackfeet reserve, consequently the Commissioners deemed it advisable to agree that a belt on the south side of the river should be exempt from general occupation for ten years, particularly as the Indians set great value on the concession.
2. The articles promised in addition to the money payments may to some appear excessive. The Stonies are the only Indians adhering to this treaty who desired agricultural implements and seed. The promises, therefore, respecting these things may be understood as merely applicable to that tribe. The Blackfeet and Bloods asked for nothing of this kind ; they preferred cattle, and the Commissioners being fully of opinion that such were likely to be much more serviceable to them than seed and implements, encouraged them in their request. The number of cattle promised may appear large ; but when it is considered that cows can be readily purchased at Fort McLeod for twenty or twenty-five dollars per head, and their delivery to the Indians will cost an inconsiderable sum, the total expense of supplying the articles promised by this treaty will, I am convinced, cost less than those under either Treaty Number Four or Number Six.
3. I would urge that the officers of the Mounted Police be entrusted to make the annual payments to the Indians under this treaty. The Chiefs themselves requested this, and I said I believed the Government would gladly consent to the arrangement. The Indians have confidence in the Police, and it might be some time before they would acquire the same respect for strangers.
4. The organization of the Blackfeet bands is somewhat different from that of the Saulteaux and Crees. They have large bands with head and minor Chiefs, and as they preferred that this arrangement should remain unchanged, the Commissioners gladly acceded to their desire, as expense would be saved to the Government in clothing, were councillors and head men not named. The Stonies, however, asked to be allowed councillors and their request was granted to the extent of two to each Chief.
5. Copies of the treaty printed on parchment should be forwarded to Fort McLeod in good time to be delivered to each head and minor Chief at next year's payment of annuities.
I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient servant. DAVID LAIRD, Lieut.-Gov., and Special Indian Commissioner.
The Blackfeet Treaty. 263
Report from correspondence in The Globe newspaper, Toronto.
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 view, the guns, which had been unlimbered and placed in position on the highest of the bluffs which girdle the north side of Old Man's River, fired a salute of thirteen guns. On the arrival of the cortege at the upper or south end of the village, the police band took the lead and welcomed the Governor with its lively music. The whole white, Half-breed and Indian population of McLeod turned out to obtain a view of the great man who had arrived. At the request of the leading inhabitants of 264 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. McLeod the carriage of the Governor was halted in the centre of the village, and the following neatly worded address was read and presented to His Honor by Mr. John C. Bell :
TO THE HONORABLE DAVID LAIRD, Lieutenant-Governor, N.-W. T.
We, the citizens of Fort McLeod, beg to welcome you to this little village, one of the pioneer settlements of this great North-West.
To have so distinguished a visitor in our midst is an honor we all appreciate, as in that visit we feel an assurance of your interest in our welfare and prosperity, which had its dawn with the advent of the Mounted Police in the North-West, and which, through their vigilance and care, has continued to this time.
We trust that your visit here will be as pleasant to you as it will be long remembered by us.
To which the Governor replied—
GENTLEMEN,—I thank you for your kind address, and for the hearty welcome you have extended to me on my first visit to this pioneer settlement of the Canadian North-West. After roughing it for the last twenty-four days on the broad unsettled prairies, you have surprised me by a reception which betokens all the elements of civilization.
It affords me unfeigned pleasure to learn that the advent of the Mounted Police in this country has been fraught with such advantages to you as a community.
Permit me to express the conviction that in return for that diligence and care on the part of the Police Force which you so highly and justly value, you will always be found conducting yourselves as becomes worthy subjects of that illustrious Sovereign whom I have the distinguished honour to represent in these territories.
In conclusion, I would remark that you have taken me so unexpectedly by your address that I feel unequal to making an appropriate reply ; but the agreeableness of the surprise will tend to heighten the pleasure of my visit, as well as to render abiding the interest which I undoubtedly feel in your welfare and prosperity.
During his stay at Fort McLeod, which extended to the 14th of the month, the Lieutenant-Governor reviewed the garrison, which consisted of troops C and D, and two divisions The Blackfeet Treaty. 265 of artillery. They deployed past at a walk, trot and gallop, and His Honor expressed his unqualified admiration of the splendid form of the men. He was especially pleased with the artillery, whose horses and equipments were in beautiful condition, and requested Col. McLeod to convey to the officers and men his surprise and pleasure at finding the force at this post so perfectly drilled and acquainted with their duties.
On the 12th the two troops and the artillery, accompanied by a baggage train of six light waggons, left Fort McLeod en route for the scene of the treaty. The Commissioner took command of the detachment, and the Assistant Commissioner remained behind to accompany the Governor on the 14th.
The force accomplished the march in three days, and pitched the tents on ground previously laid out for the encampment by Inspector Crozier, at the head of a magnificently wooded valley, of about a mile in width and extending for several miles along the Big Bow. It is a lovely spot, this "Ridge under the Water," and has always been a favorite camping ground of the Blackfeet nation.
 Monday, 17th October.
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 Councillors of the Great Mother that they would meet you at an early date, and as her Councillors 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 266 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. 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 provisions will be issued for the use of those who wish to accept them."
CROWFOOT—" I am glad to see the Queen's Chief and Stamixotokon (Col. McLeod), who is a great Chief and our friend. I will wait and hold a council with my own children (the Blackfeet), and be ready on Wednesday to hear the Great Mother's message."
PIEGAN CHIEF—"My children (the North Piegans) have looked long for the arrival of the Great Mother's Chief ; one day we did not look for him, and he passed us ; we have travelled after him for fourteen nights, and now are glad to see and shake hands with the Great Chief."
BEAR'S PAW (Stony Chief)—"We have been watching for you for many moons now, and a long time has gone by since I and my children first heard of your coming. Our hearts are now glad to see the Chief of the Great Mother, and to receive flour and meat and anything you may give us. We are all of one mind, and will say what we think on Wednesday."
On Wednesday the Commissioners met the Chiefs at the great Council House; A guard of honor of fifty mounted men accompanied them, commanded by Major Irvine. The Police band received them, and at one o'clock the guns fired a salute as the Governor and Col. McLeod took their seats. There were present at the opening of the treaty a number of ladies and gentlemen who had come long distances to witness this novel spectacle. Mrs. McLeod, Mrs. Winder, Mrs. Shurtleff, and a number of other ladies from Morleyville and Edmonton, also the Rev. Messrs. Scollen and McDougall, Mr. De L'Hereux, Mr. Conrad, Mr. Bogy, and the whole white popu The Blackfeet Treaty. 267 lation of Fort McLeod. Nearly all of the Chiefs and minor Chiefs of the Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan, Stony, and Sarcee tribes were seated directly in front of the Council House ; and forming a semicircle of about one-third of a mile beyond the Chiefs, about four thousand men, women, and children were squatted on the grass, watching with keen interest the commencement of the proceedings. Lieut.-Gov. Laird delivered the following speech :
" The Great Spirit has made all things—the sun, the moon, and the stars, the earth, the forests, and the swift running rivers. It is by the Great Spirit that the Queen rules over this great country and other great countries. The Great Spirit has made the white man and the red man brothers, and we should take each other by the hand. The Great Mother loves all her children, white man and red man alike; she wishes to do them all good. The bad white man and the bad Indian she alone does not love, and them she punishes for their wickedness. The good Indian has nothing to fear from the Queen or her officers. You Indians know this to be true. When bad white men brought you whiskey, robbed you, and made you poor, and, through whiskey, quarrel amongst your selves, she sent the Police to put an end to it. You know how they stopped this and punished the offenders, and how much good this has done. I have to tell you how much pleased the Queen is that you have taken the Police by the hands and helped them, and obeyed her laws since the arrival of the Police. She hopes that you will continue to do so, and you will always find the Police on your side if you keep the Queen's laws. The Great Mother heard that the buffalo were being killed very fast, and to prevent them from being destroyed her Councillors have made a law to protect them. This law is for your good. It says that the calves are not to be killed, so that they may grow up and increase ; that the cows are not to be killed in winter or spring, excepting by the Indians when they are in need of them as food. This will save the buffalo, and 268 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. provide you with food for many years yet, and it shews you that the Queen and her Councillors wish you well.
" Many years ago our Great Mother made a treaty with the Indians far away by the great waters in the east. A few years ago she made a treaty with those beyond the Touchwood Hills and the Woody Mountains. Last year a treaty was made with the Crees along the Saskatchewan, and now the Queen has sent Col. McLeod and myself to ask you to make a treaty. But in a very few years the buffalo will probably be all destroyed, and for this reason the Queen wishes to help you to live in the future in some other way. She wishes you to allow her white children to come and live on your land and raise cattle, and should you agree to this she will assist you to raise cattle and grain, and thus give you the means of living when the buffalo are no more. She will also pay you and your children money every year, which you can spend as you please. By being paid in money you cannot be cheated, as with it you can buy what you may think proper.
" The Queen wishes us to offer you the same as was accepted by the Crees. I do not mean exactly the same terms, but equivalent terms, that will cost the Queen the same amount of money. Some of the other Indians wanted farming implements, but these you do not require, as your lands are more adapted to raising cattle, and cattle, perhaps, would be better for you. The Commissioners will give you your choice, whether cattle or farming implements. I have already said we will give you money, I will now tell you how much. If you sign the treaty every man, woman and child will get twelve dollars each ; the money will be paid to the head of each family for himself, women and children ; every year, for ever, you, your women and your children will get five dollars each. This year Chiefs and Councillors will be paid a larger sum than this ; Chiefs will get a suit of clothes, a silver medal, and flag, and every third year will get another suit. A reserve of land will be set apart for yourselves and your cattle, upon which none others will be The Blackfeet Treaty. 269 permitted to encroach ; for every five persons one square mile will be allotted on this reserve, on which they can cut the trees and brush for firewood and other purposes. The Queen's officers will permit no white man or Half-breed to build or cut the timber on your reserves. If required roads will be cut through them. Cattle will be given to you, and potatoes, the same as are grown at Fort McLeod. The Commissioners would strongly advise the Indians to take cattle, as you understand cattle better than you will farming for some time, at least as long as you continue to move about in lodges.
" Ammunition will be issued to you each year, and as soon as you sign the treaty one thousand five hundred dollars' worth will be distributed amongst the tribes, and as soon as you settle, teachers will be sent to you to instruct your children to read books like this one (the Governor referred to a Bible), which is impossible so long as you continue to move from place to place. I have now spoken. I have made you acquainted with the principal terms contained in the treaty which you are asked to sign.
" You may wish time to talk it over in your council lodges ; you may not know what to do before you speak your thoughts in council. Go, therefore, to your councils, and I hope that you may be able to give me an answer to-morrow. Before you leave I will hear your questions and explain any matter that may not appear clear to you."
A few questions by the Chiefs were answered, and the council was closed for the day.
Thursday, October 19th.
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 270 The Treaties of Canada, with the Indians. 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 put an end to the traffic in fire-water. I can sleep now safely. Before the arrival of the Police, when I laid my head down at night, every sound frightened me ; my sleep was broken ; now I can sleep sound and am not afraid. The Great Mother sent you to this country, and we hope she will be good to us for many years. I hope and expect to get plenty ; we think we will not get so much as the Indians receive from the Americans on the other side ; they get large presents of flour, sugar, tea, and blankets. The Americans gave at first large bags of flour, sugar, and many blankets ; the next year it was only half the quantity, and the following years it grew less and less, and now they give only a handful of flour. We want to get fifty dollars for the Chiefs and thirty dollars each for all the others, men, women, and children, and we want the same every year for the future. We want to be paid for all the timber that the Police and whites have used since they first came to our country. If it continues to be used as it is, there will soon be no firewood left for the Indians. I hope, Great Father, that you will give us all this that we ask."
CROWFOOT—" Great Father, what do you think now, what The Blackfeet Treaty. 271 do you say to that ? What I have to say will be spoken tomorrow. My brother Chiefs will speak now."
EAGLE TAIL—" Great Father, from our Great Mother, Stamixotokon and officers of the Police, the advice and help I received from the Police I shall never forget as long as the moon brightens the night, as long as water runs and the grass grows in spring, and I expect to get the same from our Great Mother. I hope she will supply us with flour, tea, tobacco and cattle, seed and farming implements. I have done at present."
OLD SUN—" Father and sons, I shall speak to-morrow."
GOVERNOR—" I fear Button Chief is asking too much. He has told us of the great good the Police have done for him and his tribe and throughout the country by driving away the whiskey traders, and now he wants us to pay the Chiefs fifty dollars and others thirty dollars per head, and to pay him for the timber that has been used. Why, you Indians ought to pay us rather, for sending these traders in fire-water away and giving you security and peace, rather than we pay you for the timber used. (Here the Indians indulged in a general hearty laugh at this proposition.) We cannot do you good and pay you too for our protection. Button Chief wants us to prevent the Crees and Half-breeds from coming in and killing the buffalo. They too are the Queen's children, as well as the Blackfeet and Crees. We have done all we can do in preventing the slaying of the young buffalo, and this law will preserve the buffalo for many years. Button Chief wishes to get the same every year as this year ; this we cannot promise. We cannot make a treaty with you every year. We will give you something to eat each year, but not so much as you will receive now. He says the Americans at first gave the Indians many large sacks of four, and now they only receive a handful. From us you receive money to purchase what you may see fit ; and as your children increase yearly, you will get the more money in the future, as you are paid so much per head.
272 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians.
" (To the Stony Chiefs)—When your reserves will be allotted to you no wood can be cut or be permitted to be taken away from them without your own consent. The reserve will be given to you without depriving you of the privilege to hunt over the plains until the land be taken up."
Bear's Paw said that he was pleased with the treaty, the Police, and the prospect of getting provisions and money, and hoped that the Commissioners would give his tribe (the Stonies) as much as possible, and that as speedily as possible. This Chief appeared by his speech to be of a mercenary bent of mind.
Friday, October 20th.
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, Bloods 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. I am satisfied. I will sign the treaty."
The Blackfeet Treaty. 273
BUTTON CHIEF—" I must say what all the people say, and I agree with what they say. I cannot make new laws. I will sign."
RED CROW—" Three years ago, when the Police first came to the country, I met and shook hands with Stamixotokon (Col. McLeod) at Pelly River. Since that time he made me many promises. He kept them all—not one of them was ever broken. Everything that the police have done has been good. I entirely trust Stamixotokon, and will leave everything to him. I will sign with Crowfoot."
FATHER OF MANY CHILDREN—" I have come a long way, and far behind the rest of the bands. I have travelled with these traveaux that you now see outside there with my women and children. I cannot speak much now, but I agree with Crowfoot, and will sign."
OLD SUN—" Crowfoot speaks well. We were summoned to meet the Great Mother's Chiefs here, and we would not disappoint them ; we have come, and will sign the treaty. During the past Crowfoot has been called by us our Great Father. The Great Mother's Chief (Governor Laird) will now be our Great Father. Everything you say appears to me to be very good, and I hope that you will give us all we ask—cattle, money, tobacco, guns, and axes, and that you will not let the white man use poison on the prairies. It kills horses and buffalo as well as wolves, and it may kill men. We can ourselves kill the wolves, and set traps for them. We all agree with Crowfoot."
The remainder of the day was consumed by about a dozen other chiefs speaking in favour of the treaty. On the following day all the chiefs and counsellors signed their names under the signatures of the Commissioners, and a salute of thirteen guns announced the final conclusion of the last treaty with the Indians of the North-West.
On Sunday afternoon the Indians fought a sham battle on horseback. They only were the breech-cloths. They fired off their rifles in all directions, and sent the bullets whistling past 274 The Treaties of Canada with the Indians. 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 the Commissioner, Assistant-Commissioner, officers, and the Force in general, and said that it was their firm determination to adhere to the terms of the treaty, and abide by the laws of the Great Mother. Potts, the interpreter at Fort McLeod, said he never heard Indians speak out their minds so freely in his life before.
In reply, the Lieutenant-Governor said he was much pleased to receive this address from the Chiefs of the great Blackfeet nation, which in fact was to the Great Mother, as the Commissioners were merely acting for her, and carrying out her wishes. He was certain she would be gratified to learn of the approval of the Chiefs and their acceptance of her offers. In return the Great Mother only required of them to abide by her laws.
Lieut.-Col. McLeod said in reply :—"The Chiefs all here The Blackfeet Treaty. 275 know what I said to them three years ago, when the Police first came to the country —that nothing would be taken away from them without their own consent. You all see to-day that what I told you then was true. I also told you that the Mounted Police were your friends, and would not wrong you or see you wronged in any way. This also you see is true. The Police will continue to be your friends, and be always glad to see you. On your part you must keep the Queen's laws, and give every information to them in order that they may see the laws obeyed and offenders punished. You may still look to me as your friend, and at any time when I can do anything for your welfare, I shall only be too happy to do so. You say that I have always kept my promises. As surely as my past promises have been kept, so surely shall those made by the Commissioners be carried out in the future. If they were broken I would be ashamed to meet you or look you in the face ; but every promise will be solemnly fulfilled as certainly as the sun now shines down upon us from the heavens. I shall always remember the kind manner in which you have today spoken of me."
After this there was a great shaking of hands, and the Great Council ended.
On Thursday afternoon the Lieutenant-Governor departed for Battleford. On leaving the grounds the usual honors were paid to him. The Commissioner left the following day for Fort Walsh to attend the Commission that was to meet the Sitting Bull.
The traders were notified that they were to cease trading and move off the reservation not later than the following Tuesday, at ten p.m. By this hour they had all departed, and at noon on the same day the Force commenced its return journey to McLeod, which was accomplished in two days and a half. All were glad to get back to headquarters, as the weather had been for some days intensely cold and the prairies covered with snow.


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.



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