North-West Angle, October 1, 1873 – Treaty Closed

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 Leveillee 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 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 councilors, warriors and messengers–every Chief you see has his councilors, warriors and messengers.”

GOVERNOR–“I was not aware what names they gave me–they 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 understand one another today. 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 Government 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 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 an 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 forever. 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 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 shown 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 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 here passing through the country, and some of your boats–useful articles that you use for yourself. Bye and bye we shall see things that run swiftly, that go by fare–carriages–and we ask you that us Indians may not have to pay their passage on 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 traveling 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.”

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