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 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 be-smear 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 non-arrival 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 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 tomorrow, 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.