2nd August, 1875
Sir,–In accordance with your request I have commenced my visits to the Indian bands included in Treaties Numbers One and Two, with a view to settling the matters in dispute. I left here on the 22nd inst., and was accompanied by the Hon. James McKay, whom I had invited to accompany me in consequence of his having been present at the making of the treaties, and by the Indian Commissioner.
I reached the Round Plain on the Assiniboine river, where Yellow Quill’s band of Saulteaux had assembled on the 26th, and met the Indians next day, explaining to them our mission, and telling them what I was empowered to promise them. This band, as you are aware, has always been dissatisfied, and have been difficult to deal with I found them in an intractable frame of mind, and the difficulty of the position was enhanced by a division amongst themselves.
The original Chief of the Portage band was Pee-quah-kee-quah, who was a party to the treaty with Lord Selkirk. On his death he was succeeded by his son, who died some years ago leaving a boy, who has now grown up. Yellow Quill was appointed chief by the Hudson’s Bay Company when Pee-quah-kee-quah’s son died. The grandson is now grown up and has returned from the plains, where he has been, and claims to be recognized as an hereditary chief, and about half the band have followed his lead. After we had been in conference some time, an Indian rose and told me that when the chief of the Portage died, he charged him to keep the land for his son, and that they wished a reserve at the Portage. Another rose and produced Pee-quah-kee-quah’s King George medal, and said the chief had placed it in his keeping and charged him to deliver it to his son, when he was old enough to be a chief, and then placed it round the neck of Kes-kee-maquah, or the Short Bear. They then asked that I should receive him as a chief, in place of Yellow Quill. I told them that could not be done. That Yellow Quill must remain a chief, but that I would report their request on behalf of the young chief to the Government at Ottawa and let them know their decision, but that they could get no reserve at the Portage as only that mentioned in the treaty would be given, and with this they were satisfied. The conference then went on, the two parties sitting apart and holding no intercourse with each other. I spent two days with them making no progress, as they claimed that a reserve thirty miles by twenty was promised them as shewn in the rough sketch enclosed, made at their dictation and marked “A.” I produced the plan of the reserve, as proposed to be allotted to them, containing 34,000 acres, but Yellow Quill said it was not in the right place, and was not what was promised, and morever it was not surrounded by the belt of five miles, mentioned in the treaty, but was only partially so and did not cross the river. I told them they could get no more land than was promised in the treaty. They appealed to Mr. McKay whether the Reserve was not promised to be on both sides of the river, and he admitted that it was. I told them it was not so written in the treaty, and that if the Government should allow it to cross the river, the rights of navigation must be conserved, but I would consult the Queen’s Councilors. They replied that they would go to the “Grand Father” and get him to intercede for them, meaning the “President of the United States,” as I afterwards discovered, an American Indian having persuaded them to take this course.
They refused to discuss or accept anything until the Reserve Question was settled, and while I was speaking on the afternoon of the second day, Yellow Quill’s Councilors went away, and left him alone, when he followed. I then left the Council tent, leaving word that I would depart in the morning. Yellow Quill came back and said that he would accept the five dollars, but Mr. McKay told him he had not taken my hand, and that it would not be paid, as my offer was conditioned on a settlement of all questions between them and the Government. About six o’clock, Yellow Quill and his Councilors sent me the following message which had been written for them by Mr. Deputy Sheriff Setter from their dictation.
“They didn’t come to see you. You came to see them, and if you choose to come and speak to them again, you can come if you like.”
I felt that I must now deal firmly with them, and therefore prepared the following reply:
“It is not right, for they came to see me at my request, as their Governor, and I came to meet them. After spending two days with them, their Chief insulted me by rising and going out while I was speaking, and breaking up the Conference. I represent the Queen, and his action was disrespectful to her. I will not go to meet you again. If you are sorry for the way I have been treated you can come and see me.”
I charged Mr. McKay to deliver it to them in their Council, which he did, when they denied having meant to send the message in the terms in which it was, and disclaimed all intended offence. The message had its desired effect, but their disclaimer was not correct, as Mr. Setter informs me that he had originally written a welcome to me, which they caused him to strike out, and to say that “I could come if I chose.” Next morning I struck my tents and loaded my waggons and prepared to leave. Seeing this, Yellow Quill and his Councilors came to Mr. McKay, and asked if I would not see them again, to which I consented. On proceeding to Mr. Provencher’s pay tent, I met the Chief, Yellow Quill. His spokesman rose, saying “that they were glad to have met me, that they had found my words good; that they had not desired to offend the Queen or me, and were sorry; that God had watched us during two days, and He was again looking on.” I accepted their apology, and then proceeded to practical business, the whole tone and demeanor of the Indians being changed, having become cordial and friendly. I may mention here, that Yellow Quill reproached his Councilors for their conduct. He also informed Mr. McKay privately, that he could not act otherwise as he was in danger of his life from some of his own “braves.” He was guarded all the time by a man armed with a bow and steel-pointed arrows. I promised to state their claims as to the reserve, but told them it would not be granted, but that I would change the location of the reserve, as it had been selected without their approval, and would represent their view as to its locality, and as to crossing the river, the navigation of which, however, could not be interfered with. They asked to be paid three dollars per head or one dollar per year for the following transaction: In 1868 a number of Ontario farmers had settled on Rat Creek. Yellow Quill’s band drove them off and trouble was impending. Governor McTavish sent Mr. McKay up to arrange the difficulty, in anticipation of the advent of Canadian power. He made a lease for three years of their rights, assuring them that before that time the Canadian Government would make a treaty with them and recognize the temporary arrangement, and in consequence the settlers were unmolested. The question was not raised at the “Stone Fort” Treaty, and I told them I had not known of it before, but supposed the Government would hold that the treaty had covered it, and that the extra two dollars would compensate for it, but that I would represent their news and give them an answer. They complained of the mode of payment, as my predecessor assured them that their children who were absent should be paid when they presented themselves, and that they only got two years payment instead of the full amount. As these were Mr. Provencher’s instructions I promised to report it. They expressed themselves quite satisfied with the arrangements as to the outside promises, and would gladly accept of it, if the reserve question was settled, but that they could not receive that as surveyed. I took the opportunity of explaining to them that the “President of the United States” had no power here, and that the Queen and Her Councilors were the only authorities they had to deal with, and that I would state their wishes as fully as they could do themselves. They asked if I would come back, but I said not this year, but next year either I or some other Commissioner would meet them. Eventually they cheerfully agreed to accept the three dollars annuity as usual, and to defer a final adjustment of the question between us until next year, and promised to accompany any one I sent to select the reserve and agree on its locality. They again thanked me for my kindness and patience with them, and I took leave of them. I regard the result as very satisfactory, as I left the band contented, and you are aware of their intimate relation with the “Plain Indians,” and the difficulty their message to Qu’Appelle, “that the white man had not kept his promises,” caused us then, and it is very important that they should be satisfied. I returned to the Portage, and Mr. Provencher proceeded to Totogan, and paid the White Mud section of the band, numbering one hundred and thirty, who are nominally included in it, but do not recognize Yellow Quill’s authority, the usual annuities, which they accepted without demur.
I would now make the following recommendations:
1st. That you should write to Yellow Quill declining to entertain his demands for the large reserve but offering to them a reserve including the “Eagle’s Nest” on the north side of the river, and laid off in the terms of the treaty, with the land comprised in the one hundred and sixty acres for each family, surrounded by the belt mentioned in the treaty, in the manner suggested in the enclosed rough sketch “B,” reserving the rights of navigation and access to the river. The land is of inferior quality to that already offered them.
2nd. I would propose that the young chief should be recognized as head of the section of the band adhering to him. He and his section are ready to accept the terms and the reserve as described in the treaty. They behaved very well and told Mr. McKay that they were glad I had not recognized him then, as it would have led to bloodshed, and they would be content if the recognition came when the reserve was settled. The young chief is an intelligent, well disposed man, aged about twenty-six.
3rd. I would propose that the White Mud Indians, who live there constantly, should be recognized as a distinct band and should elect a Chief.
4th. I would recommend that the arrears due to Indians who have not yet received their annuities, should be paid in full at once, but that a period of two years should be fixed for those bona fide members of the band to come in and be paid, and that after that they should only receive one year’s payment. If these steps are taken, I think we shall have no more trouble with these Indians.
In conclusion I have to express my obligations to the Hon. Mr. McKay for the valuable services he rendered me. The Indians told me they would not have come into the Stone Fort Treaty but for him, and I know it was the case.
I have the honor to be, etc., Alexander Morris, Lieut. Governor.
4th October, 1875
Sir,–I have the honor to inform you that after my return from St. Peters, finding that in view of my contemplated mission to Lake Winnipeg it would be impossible for me to visit all the bands of Indians included in Treaties Numbers One and Two, I requested the Indian Commissioner, Mr. Provencher, to proceed to meet them at Fort Alexander and the Broken Head and Roseau rivers, while I should proceed to Lake Manitoba and meet at Manitoba House the various bands of Indians included in Treaty Number Two. In pursuance of this arrangement, I left here on the 17th of August for Oak Point, on Lake Manitoba, where I was to take a boat for Manitoba Post.
I was accompanied by the Hon. James McKay, whose presence enabled me to dispense with an interpreter, and was of importance otherwise, as he had assisted my predecessor in the making of the treaty originally at Manitoba Post. Mr. Graham, of the Indian Department, also accompanied me to make the payments and distribute the pensions. I reached Oak Point on the afternoon of the 18th, and left there on the afternoon of the 20th, arriving at Manitoba House on the evening of the 21st. The next day being Sunday, nothing of course was done relating to my mission, but on Monday morning I met the Indians at ten o’clock on the lake shore. The six bands included in the treaty were all represented by their Chiefs and head men and a large number of their people.
I explained to them the object of our mission, my remarks being fully interpreted by Mr. McKay, and obtained their assent in writing to the Order in Council of the 30th April last, the terms of which were accepted with cordiality and good feeling by the Indians.
The new medals and uniforms were distributed to the Chiefs and head men, and the payments under the revised treaty were then commenced by Mr. McKay and Mr. Graham, and continued until 12.30 p.m.
On the 24th, the payments were resumed and concluded, but owing to heavy rain and high winds, we were unable to leave Manitoba Post until the 25th. The Indians on our departure again firing their guns in token of their respect and good will. Owing to stormy weather, which obliged us to encamp on Bird Island, we did not return to Oak Point until the afternoon of the 27th.
On the 28th, the Indians residing in that vicinity, and belonging to Sousanye’s band, were paid by Messrs. McKay and Graham. I returned to Fort Garry on the 1st September, in the afternoon, my journey having been protracted by unfavorable weather, and by the fact that owing to the prevalence of shoals, the navigation of Lake Manitoba is difficult in stormy weather.
As only a small portion of the Riding House Indians were present, I informed them that Mr. Graham would proceed to the mountains after our return, to make the payments, and that I would send by him a reply to their requests, as to the retention by them of the reserve originally designated in the treaty, and this I have since done affirmatively with your sanction. Mr. Provencher succeeded in obtaining the adhesion of the bands at Fort Alexander, Broken Head and Roseau rivers to the new terms, and has handed me the copies of the Order in Council with their assents endorsed thereon.
You will therefore perceive that with the exception of the Portage band with regard to whom I wrote you fully on the 2nd of August last, the assent of all the Indians interested therein to the proposed mode of settlement of the unrecorded promises made at the conclusion of Treaties Numbers One and Two, has been obtained, and I feel that I have reason to congratulate the Privy Council on the removal of a fruitful source of difficulty and discontent. But I would add, that it becomes all the more important that a better system of Indian administration should be devised so as to secure the prompt and rigid carrying out of the new terms in their entirety.
You are already in possession of my views on this subject, and I trust that local agents will be appointed to be supervised by the Indian Commissioner and that an Indian Council of advice and control, sitting at Fort Garry, will be entrusted with the direction of the Treaties One, Two, and the upper portion of Three, and the new Treaty Number Five, so as to secure prompt and effective administration of Indian Affairs.
Under the system of local agents, the necessity of large gatherings of the Indians will be avoided, and much expense to the Government, and inconvenience to the Indians, avoided. I have further to record my sense of the services rendered to me by Messrs. McKay and Graham. The latter discharged his duties with promptitude and efficiency, and Mr. McKay and he introduced a mode of distribution of the provisions to which I would call your attention.
I have the honor to be, etc., Alexander Morris, Lieut. Governor.
5th October, 1875
Sir,–I have the honor to inform you that in pursuance of your request that I should meet the Indians of Treaties Numbers One and Two, with a view to a revision of the terms thereof, and an adjustment of the disputed questions connected therewith, I proceeded to the St. Peter Reserve on the 5th of August and encamped near the Indian tents.
On the 6th I met Chief Prince and his band, being accompanied by the Hon. James McKay, who at my request gave me the benefit of his valuable services, and by Mr. Provencher. I explained to the Indians the terms offered to them by the Government, and obtained their written assent thereto, endorsed on a parchment copy of the Order in Council of date the 30th April, 1875. As however there are in the bands of Treaties Numbers One and Two, four Councilors, i.e., head men, and two braves, we were under the necessity of agreeing that they should continue at that number, instead of two, as specified in the report of the Privy Council. We then brought before them your request that the portion of the reserve embraced in the proposed new town near the Pacific Railway crossing should be sold for their benefit, to which they agreed, and the formal instrument of surrender will be enclosed to you by the Indian Commissioner.
The Indians living at Nettley Creek asked to have a reserve assigned them there, and I promised to bring their request under your notice.
I did not bring up the question of the division of the band into two, as my experience with the Portage band, arising from a similar difficulty, led me to fear that complications might arise from the proposal which might prevent the settlement of the more important matter of the disposal of the open questions relating to the treaty. I was therefore of opinion that the division of the band should be postponed to next year, and acted upon that opinion. A party of Norway House Indians were present and asked for a reserve at the Grassy Narrows. I informed them that one could not be granted at that place, and learning from them that the Chief at Norway House was about leaving there with a party of Indians to confer with me, I engaged three of the Indians present to proceed at once to Norway House and inform the Indians that I would meet them there about the middle of September.
I have since learned that they met the Chief after he had left Norway House or Fort Garry, and caused him to return.
I have the honor to be, etc., Alexander Morris , Lieut. Governor.