The Qu’appelle Treaty, Or Treaty Number Four

This treaty, is, so generally called, from having been made at the Qu’Appelle Lakes, in the North-West Territories. The Indians treated with, were a portion of the Cree and Saulteaux Tribes, and under its operations, about 75,000 square miles of territory were surrendered. This treaty, was the first step towards bringing the Indians of the Fertile Belt into closer relations with the Government of Canada, and was a much needed one. In the year 1871, Major Butler was sent into the North-West Territories by the Government of Canada, to examine into and report, with regard to the state of affairs there. He reported, to Lieutenant Governor Archibald, that “law and order are wholly unknown in the region of the Saskatchewan, in so much, as the country is without any executive organization, and destitute of any means of enforcing the law.” Towards remedying this serious state of affairs, the Dominion placed the North-West Territories under the rule of the Lieutenant Governor and Council of the Territories, the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, being, ex officio, Governor of the Territories. This body, composed of representative men, possessed executive functions, and legislative powers. They entered upon their duties with zeal, and discharged them with efficiency. Amongst other measures, they passed a prohibitory liquor law, which subsequently was practically adopted by a Statute of the Dominion. They proposed the establishment of a Mounted Police Force, a suggestion which was given force to by the Dominion Cabinet, and they recommended, that, treaties should be made, with the Indians at Forts Qu’Appelle, Carlton and Pitt, recommendations, which, were all, eventually, carried out. In the report of the Minister of the Interior, for the year 1875, he states “that it is due to the Council to record the fact, that the legislation and valuable suggestions, submitted to your Excellency, from time to time, through their official head, Governor Morris, aided the Government not a little in the good work of laying the foundations of law and order, in the North-West, in securing the good will of the Indian tribes, and in establishing the prestige of the Dominion Government, throughout that vast country.” In accordance with these suggestions, the Government of the Dominion, decided, on effecting a treaty, with the plain Indians, Cree and Chippewa, who inhabit the country, of which, Fort Qu’Appelle, was a convenient centre, and entrusted the duty, to the Hon. Alexander Morris then Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, the Hon. David Laird, then Minister of the Interior, and now Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territories, and the Hon. W. J. Christie, a retired factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and a gentleman of large experience, among the Indian tribes.

In pursuance of this mission, these gentlemen left Fort Garry in August, 1874, and journeyed to Lake Qu’Appelle (the calling or echoing lake), where they met the assembled Indians, in September. The Commissioners, had an escort of militia, under the command of Lieut.-Col. Osborne Smith, C.M.G. This force marched to and from Qu’Appelle, acquitted themselves with signal propriety, and proved of essential service. Their return march was made in excellent time. The distance, three hundred and fifty miles having been accomplished in sixteen and a half days.

The Commissioners encountered great difficulties, arising, from the excessive demands of the Indians, and from the jealousies, existing between the two Nations, Cree and Chippewa, but by perseverance, firmness and tact, they succeeded in overcoming the obstacles, they had to encounter, and eventually effected a treaty, whereby the Indian title was extinguished in a tract of country, embracing 75,000 square miles of territory. After long and animated discussions the Indians, asked to be granted the same terms as were accorded to the Indians of Treaty Number Three, at the North-West Angle, hereinbefore mentioned. The Commissioners assented to their request and the treaty was signed accordingly.

On the return, of the Commissioners to Fort Ellice, they met there, the Chippewa of that vicinage, and made a supplementary treaty with them. These Indians were included in the boundaries of Treaty Number Two, but had not been treated with, owing to their distance from Manitoba House, where that treaty was made. In 1875, the Hon. W. J. Christie, and Mr. M. G. Dickieson, then of the Department of the Interior, and subsequently, Assistant Superintendent of Indian affairs, in the North-West Territories, were appointed to make the payments of annuities, to the Indians, embraced in the Treaty Number Four, and obtain the adhesion of other bands, which had not been present at Qu’Appelle, the previous year. They met, the Indians, at Qu’Appelle (where six Chiefs who had been absent, accepted the terms of the treaty) and at Fort Pelly and at Shoal River, where two other Chiefs, with their bands, came into the treaty stipulations. A gratifying feature connected with the making of this, and the other, North-Western Treaties, has been the readiness, with which the Indians, who were absent, afterwards accepted the terms which had been settled for them, by those, who were able to attend. I close these observations, by annexing, the reports of Lieutenant Governor Morris, to the Honorable the Secretary of State of Canada, of date 17th October, 1874, giving, an account, of the making of the treaties at Qu’Appelle and Fort Ellice, and an extract, from that of Messrs. Christie and Dickieson, dated 7th October, 1875, describing its further completion, and I also insert, accurate short-hand reports of the proceedings at Qu’Appelle and Fort Ellice, which, were made, at the time, by Mr. Dickieson, who, was present, at the treaty, as secretary to the Commissioners. These will be found to be both interesting and instructive.

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