On Sunday, the 10th, the Rev. Mr. McKay conducted the service for the police and others, who might attend, and in the afternoon the Rev. Mr. McDougall had a service in Cree; Bishop Grandin and the Rev. Mr. Scollen also had services for the Cree and Chippewayans.
On Monday, the 11th, Mr. Christie completed the payments and distribution of provisions. The police commenced crossing the Saskatchewan, with a view to leaving on Tuesday, the 12th, for Battle River. We therefore sent our horses and carts across the river, and had our tents pitched with the view of commencing our return journey, early in the morning. Just as we were about to leave Port Pitt, however, the Great Bear, one of the three Cree Chiefs who were absent, arrived at the fort and asked to see me. The Commissioners met him, when he told me that he had been out on the plains hunting the buffalo, and had not heard the time of the meeting; that on hearing of it he had been sent in by the Cree and by the Stonies or Assiniboines to speak for them. I explained to him what had been done at Carlton and Pitt, he expressed regret that I was going away as he wished to talk to me. I then said we would not remove until the next day, which gratified him much.
On the 13th, Sweet Grass and all the other Chiefs and Councilor came down to the fort with the Great Bear to bid me farewell.
Sweet Grass told me the object of their visit. The Bear said the Indians on the plains had sent him to speak for them, and those who were away were as a barrier before what he would have to say.
Sweet Grass said, addressing him, “You see the representative of the Queen here. I think the Great Spirit put it into their hearts to come to our help. Let there be no barrier, as it is with great difficulty that this was brought about. Say yes and take his hand.” The White Fish spoke similarly.
The Bear said, “Stop, my friends. I never saw the Governor before; when I heard he was to come, I said I will request him to save me from what I most dread–hanging; it was not given to us to have the rope about our necks.” I replied, that God had given it to us to punish murder by death, and explained the protection the police force afforded the Indians.
Big Bear still demanded that there should be no hanging, and I informed him that his request would not be granted. He then wished that the buffalo might be protected, and asked why the other Chiefs did not speak.
The Fish, the Chippewayan replied, “We do not because Sweet Grass has spoken, and what he says we all say.”
I then asked the Bear to tell the other two absent Chiefs Short Tail and Sagamat, what had been done; that I had written him and them a letter, and sent it by Sweet Grass, and that next year they could join the treaty; with regard to the buffalo, the North-West Council were considering the question, and I again explained that we would not interfere with the Indian’s daily life except to assist them in farming.
I then said I never expected to see them again. The land was so large that another Governor was to be sent, whom I hoped they would receive as they had done me, and give him the same confidence they had extended to me. The Chiefs and Councilor, commencing with Sweet Grass, then shook hands with Mr. Christie and myself, each addressing me words of parting.
The Bear remained sitting until all had shaken hands, he then took mine and holding it, said, “If he had known he would have met me with all his people. I am not an undutiful child, I do not throw back your hand, but as my people are not here I do not sign. I will tell them what I have heard, and next year I will come.” The Indians then left, but shortly afterwards the Bear came to see me again, fearing I had not fully understood him, and assured me that he accepted the treaty as if he had signed it, and would come next year with all his people and accept it.
We crossed the river, and left for Battle River in the afternoon, where we arrived on the afternoon of the 15th. We found no Indians there except Red Pheasant and his band, whom we had already met at Carlton.
On the 16th, the Red Pheasant saw the Commissioners. He said he was a Battle River Indian; his fathers had lived there before him, but he was glad to see the Government coming there, as it would improve his means of living. He wished the claims of the Half-breeds who had settled there before the Government came to be respected, as for himself he would go away and seek another home, and though it was hard to leave the home of his people, yet he would make way for the white man, and surely, he said, “if the poor Indian acts thus, the Queen, when she hears of this, will help him.” He asked, that a little land should be given him to plant potatoes in next spring, and they would remove after digging them, to their reserve, which he thought he would wish to have at the Eagle Hills.
I expressed my satisfaction with their conduct and excellent spirit, and obtained the cheerful consent of Mr. Fuller, of the Pacific telegraph line, who is in occupation of a large cultivated field, that the band should use three acres within the fenced enclosure, and which, moreover, Mr. Fuller kindly promised to plough for them gratuitously.