October 17th, 1874
Sir,–Referring to my despatch of the 17th inst., (No. 211) I have the honor to report that Mr. Laird and I arrived at Fort Ellice from Qu’Appelle Lakes, on Saturday the 19th of September.
On Monday, we met the band of Saulteaux Indians, who make their headquarters at Fort Ellice, and who had remained there, instead of going to Qu’Appelle at our request.
This band have been in the habit of migrating between the region covered by the Second Treaty and that comprehended in the Fourth, but had not been treated with.
We proposed to them to give their adhesion to the Qu’Appelle Treaty and surrender their claim to lands, wherever situated, in the North-West Territories, on being given a reserve and being granted the terms on which the treaty in question was made. We explained fully these terms and asked the Indians to present to us their Chief and headmen. As some of the band were absent, whom the Indians desired to be recognized as headmen, only the Chief and one headman were presented. These, on behalf of the Indians accepted the terms and thanked the Queen and the Commissioners for their care of the Indian people. A supplement to the treaty was then submitted and fully explained to them, by our acting interpreter, Joseph Robillard, after which it was signed by Mr. Laird and myself, and by the Chief and head man.
The original of the supplementary treaty will be submitted for approval by Mr. Laird, but I annex a printed copy of it, as an appendix to this despatch.
I also annex, notes of the conference with these Indians, extended from the short hand report taken of the proceedings by Mr. Dickieson, Private Secretary to the Hon. Mr. Laird.
In the afternoon, Mr. Christie and Mr. Dickieson arrived from Lake Qu’Appelle, and shortly afterwards proceeded to make the payments to the Indians, under the treaty.
It was satisfactory to have this band dealt with, as they asserted claims in the region covered by the Manitoba Post Treaty, but had not been represented at the time it was made.
On the 22nd of September the Commissioners left Fort Ellice and arrived at Fort Garry on the afternoon of the 26th of that month, having been absent a little over a month.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant, Alexander Morris, Lieut.-Gov. N. W. T. The Honorable The Secretary Of State For The Provinces, Ottawa.
October 17th, 1874
Sir,–I have the honor to inform you that in compliance with the request of the Government, I proceeded to Lake Qu’Appelle in company with the Hon. David Laird, in order to act with him and W. J. Christie, Esq., as Commissioners to negotiate a treaty with the tribes of Indians in that region.
Mr. Laird and I left Fort Garry on the 26th of August, and arrived at Lake Qu’Appelle on the 8th of September, Mr. Christie having gone in advance of us to Fort Pelly.
We were accompanied on arriving by the escort of militia under the command of Lieut.-Col. W. Osborne Smith, who had preceded us, but whom we had overtaken.
The escort took up their encampment at a very desirable situation on the edge of the lake, the Indians being encamped at some distance.
The Commissioners were kindly provided with apartments by W. J. McLean, Esq., the officer in charge of the Hudson Bay Company’s Post.
After our arrival, the Commissioners caused the Indians to be summoned, to meet them, in a marquee tent adjoining the encampment of the militia.
The Cree came headed by their principal Chief “Loud Voice,” and a number of Saulteaux followed, without their Chief, Cote. The Commissioners, having decided that it was desirable that there should be only one speaker on behalf of the Commissioners, requested me owing to my previous experience with the Indian tribes and my official position as Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territories, to undertake the duty, which I agreed to do. Accordingly, I told the Indians the object of our coming and invited them to present to us their Chiefs and headmen. “Loud Voice” stated that they were not yet ready and asked for a delay till next day, to which we assented.
On the 9th, four Indian soldiers were sent to the Commissioners to ask for two days delay, but we replied that when they met us in conference they could prefer any reasonable request, but that we expected them to meet us as agreed on the previous day, and further that the Saulteaux had not conducted themselves with proper respect to the Commissioners, as representatives of the Crown, as their principal Chief Cote had not met us. Eventually, both the Cree and the Saulteaux met us, with their Chiefs, when I addressed them. They asked time to deliberate and we appointed the 11th at ten o’clock for the next conference.
The Cree then left the tent suddenly, under constraint of the Indian soldiers, who compelled the Chiefs to go.
On the 11th we sent a bugler round to summon the Indians to the appointed conference, but they did not come.
Instead the Saulteaux sent word that they could not meet us except in their own soldiers tent, distant about a mile from the militia encampment, but we refused to do so.
The Cree were ready to proceed to the marquee, but were prevented by the Saulteaux, a section of whom displayed a turbulent disposition and were numerically the strongest party. We sent our interpreter Charles Pratt, a Cree Indian, who was educated at St. John’s College here, and who is a catechist of the Church of England, to tell the Indians that they must meet us as agreed upon.
In consequence, about four o’clock in the afternoon the Cree led by “Loud Voice,” came to the conference but the Saulteaux kept away, though a number were sent to hear and report. On behalf of the Commissioners, I then explained to the Cree the object of our mission and made our proposals for a treaty, but as they were not ready to reply, we asked them to return to their tents and meet us next day.
On the 12th the Cree and Saulteaux sent four men from the soldier’s tent or council, which they had organized, to ask that the encampment of the militia and the conference tents should be removed half way, towards their encampment.
In consequence, we requested Lieut.-Col. Smith to proceed to the Indian encampment and ascertain the meaning of this demand authorizing him, if necessary, to arrange for the pitching of the conference tent nearer the Indians, if that would give them any satisfaction.
He reported, on his return, that the Indians wished the militia to encamp with them, and that they objected to meet us anywhere on the reserve of the Hudson Bay Company, as they said they could not speak freely there.
He refused to remove the militia camp, as it was a very desirable place where it had been placed, but with the assent of the Indians selected a spot adjoining the reserve and at a suitable distance from the Indian tents, on which the conference tent was to be daily erected, but to be removed after the conferences closed.
We then summoned the Indians to meet us at one o’clock which they did at the appointed place.
After the formal hand shaking, which ceremony they repeat at the beginning and close of every interview the Commissioners submitted their terms for a treaty, which were in effect similar to those granted at the North-West Angle, except that the money present offered was eight dollars per head, instead of twelve dollars as there.
The Indians declined, however, to talk about these proposals, as they said there was something in the way. They objected to the reserve having been surveyed for the Hudson Bay Company, without their first having been consulted, and claimed that the L300,000 paid to the Company should be paid to them. They also objected to the Company’s trading in the Territory, except only at their posts. The Commissioners refused to comply with their demands, and explained to them how the Company had become entitled to the reserve in question, and the nature of the arrangement, that had resulted in the payment by the Government of Canada of the £300,000.
The conference adjourned to Monday the 14th, on which day the Commissioners again met them, but the Cree Chief “Loud Voice” asked for another day to consider the matter, and “Cote” or “Meemay” the Saulteaux Chief, from Fort Pelly, asked to be treated with, at his own place. They demanded, that the Company should only be allowed to trade at their own posts, and not to send out traders into the Territory–which was of course refused, it being explained to them that all Her Majesty’s subjects had equal right of trading. The Commissioners then agreed to grant a final delay of another day, for further consideration. Up to this period the position was very unsatisfactory.
The Cree were from the first ready to treat, as were the Saulteaux from Fort Pelly, but the Saulteaux of the Qu’Appelle District were not disposed to do so and attempted to coerce the other Indians.
They kept the Chiefs “Loud Voice” and “Cote” under close surveillance, they being either confined to their tents or else watched by “soldiers,” and threatened if they should make any overtures to us.
The Saulteaux cut down the tent over the head of one of the Cree Chiefs and conducted themselves in such a manner, that “Loud Voice” applied to the Commissioners for protection, and the Cree purchased knives and armed themselves.
The Saulteaux, one day went the length of placing six “soldiers,” armed with rifles and revolvers, in the conference tent to intimidate the other Indians, a step which was promptly counteracted by Lieut. Col. Smith, calling in six of the militiamen who were stationed in the tent. In this connection, I must take the opportunity of stating that the results proved the wisdom of the course taken by the Commissioners in obtaining the escort of the militia, as their presence exerted great moral influence, and I am persuaded, prevented the jealousies and ancient feud between the Cree and Saulteaux culminating in acts of violence.
The conduct of the whole force was excellent and, whether on the march or in the encampment ground, they conducted themselves in a most creditable manner.
Resuming, however, my narrative, on the 15th of September, the Commissioners again met the Indians at eleven o’clock in the forenoon.
The Cree had, in the interval, decided to treat with us independently, and the Saulteaux, finding this, came to a similar conclusion. After a protracted interview, the Indians asked to be granted the same terms as were given at the North-West Angle. The Commissioners took time to consider and adjourned the conference until three o’clock.
In the interval, the Commissioners, being persuaded that a treaty could not otherwise be made, determined on acceding to the request of the Indians.
The Indians, having again met the Commissioners in the afternoon, presented their Chiefs to them, when they asked to be informed what the terms granted at the North-West Angle were. These were fully and carefully explained to them, but after a request that all the Indians owed to the Hudson Bay Company should be wiped out and a refusal of the Commissioners to entertain their demands, they then asked that they should be paid fifteen dollars per annum per head, which was refused, and they were informed that the proposals of the Commissioners were final, and could not be changed.
The Chiefs then agreed to accept the terms offered and to sign the treaty, having first asked that the Half-breeds should be allowed to hunt, and having been assured that the population in the North-West would be treated fairly and justly, the treaty was signed by the Commissioners and the Chiefs, having been first fully explained to them by the interpreter.
Arrangements were then made to commence the payment and distribution of the presents the next day, a duty which was discharged by Mr. Christie and Mr. Dickieson, Private Secretary of the Hon. Mr. Laird.
I forward you to form an appendix to this dispatch, a report marked “A” and “B” extended from notes taken in short hand, by Mr. Dickieson, of the various conferences and of the utterances of the Commissioners and the Indians.
It is obvious that such a record will prove valuable, as it enables any misunderstanding on the part of the Indians, as to what was said at the conference, to be corrected, and it, moreover, will enable the council better to appreciate the character of the difficulties that have to be encountered in negotiating with the Indians.
On the 17th I left for Fort Ellice, in company with Mr. Laird, Mr. Christie and Mr. Dickieson remaining to complete the payments, which were satisfactorily disposed of.
Before leaving, the Chiefs “Loud Voice” and Cote called on us to tender their good wishes, and to assure us that they would teach their people to respect the treaty.
The Commissioners received every assistance in their power from Mr. McDonald of Fort Ellice, in charge of the Hudson Bay Company District of Swan River, and from Mr. McLean, in charge of the Qu’Appelle Post,–I also add, that the Half-breed population were I believe generally desirous of seeing the treaty concluded and used the influence of their connection with the Indians in its favor.
I forward in another dispatch a copy of an address I received from the Metis, or Half-breeds, together with my reply thereto.
The treaty was taken charge of by the Hon. Mr. Laird, and will be by him placed on record in his Department and submitted to council for approval.
I enclose herewith, however, a printed copy of it, marked “C,” to accompany this despatch.
The supplementary treaty made at Fort Ellice will form the subject of another despatch.
Trusting that the efforts of the Commissioners to secure a satisfactory understanding with the Western Indians will result in benefit to the race, advantage to the Dominion, and meet the approval of the Privy Council,
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient servant, Alexander Morris , Lieut. Gov. N. W. T.