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Canada and her Indian Tribes
By Wm. Leggo, Toronto


IT was fitting that the young barrister of Montreal, who in 1855 was the winner of the second prize awarded, upon a reference from the Paris Exhibition Committee of Canada, by Sir Edmund Head, then Governor-General of British North America, for an Essay on ‘ Canada and her Resources,’ who in 1858 delivered before the Mercantile Library Association of Montreal a lecture on 1 Nova Britannia, or the British North American Provinces,’ which was considered so able that it was published under the auspices of that body, and who, in 1859, delivered another one before the Bame institution on 'The Hudson’s Bay and Pacific Territories,’ should in 1872 occupy the high position of Chief Justice of Manitoba, a portion of the country in which he had exhibited so deep and intelligent an interest; that he should, subsequently, have been raised to the higher position of Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, the North-West Territories and Keewatin; and that in 1880 he should publish the valuable work with which we are about to deal.

Much, nay most, of the romance of Canadian history centres in its Indian life, and we are apt, in reading the highly-coloured pictures of savage character, found in Campbell's ‘Gertrude of Wyoming,’ in Longfellow's 'Hiawatha,’ in Cooper’s Indian stories, and in Richardson’s brilliant tale ‘Wacousta,’ to be led away from the deep social and high political interest surrounding the Indian population of British North America. Until Mr. Parkman had pulled aside the veil which poets and novelists had woven, and with which they had hidden the real character of the Indian, he posed before us as a noble creature,, an Apollo in beauty of form, a Hercules in strength, a Mercury in swiftness, We were taught to admire his-bravery in battle, his gentleness in peace, and his tenderness to the captive. His eloquence in debate was a favourite theme, and the pathos of Logan’s appeal was supposed to be exhibited by all Indians whenever occasion rendered it fitting to be shewn. Cleanliness in person, truth in speech, and honesty in dealing, were, of course, universal virtues, and until Parkman appeared, the Indians of the North-Western portions of North America were popularly supposed to be the-happy possessors of all these qualities. But many years passed in their midst,, and a close study of the Indian in his native forests, where he roamed, uncontaminated by what is sometimes1 improperly termed ‘civilization,’ enabled Mr. Parkman to paint us a true picture of poor ‘Lo,’ and the account of the dealings of Mr. Morris with the chief tribes of our North-West savages, incidentally supports some of the views of the brilliant American wri ter. From Mr. Parkman’s books we gat her that the North American Indian is cowardly, treacherous, cruel and vindictive, a liar and a cheat, filthy— physically and morally—weaker than the Englishman, slower than the Irishman, and less persevering than the Scotchman—an idler, and vain glorious—too proud to work, but not too proud to beg, or, if need be, to steal. When, therefore, the British emigrant found himself face to face with this owner of the rich soil which the one desired to preserve forever as a hunting ground, and the other wished to convert into a garden, he found that the Indian of the Actual was a creature very different indeed from the Indian of the Imaginary. The question to be solved was momentuous. As a rule, the French, who were the precursors of the British in these regions, had treated the Indians with kindness, and the chief complaint laid to their charge was that the Jesuit missionaries were too fond of burning their converts immediately after baptism, to prevent them from falling from grace. The French power, how-ever, was destroyed by the British before it had become necessary to take possession of any considerable portion of the Indian territory for the purpose of civilization, and, therefore, it had not been compelled to consider the policy by which it should obtain control of the immense landed possessions of the Aborigines without incurring their ill-will, or invoking their armed resistance. When the fall of Quebec destroyed the French dominion on this continent, and gave to Great Britain possession of almost a continent, the kindliest relations were kept up with the Indians, and when England needed Aid in the straggle with her Colonies, her Indian allies were never found wanting. After the independence of her rebellious subjects had been acknowledged by Britain, many Indians were transferred from their hunting grounds, now the property of the Americans, to the British possessions north of the St. Lawrence and the great Lak os; and the lineal descendants of many who had roamed through the wilds of what now constitutes the States of New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio may at this moment be found quiet and happy on the rich reserves of the Bay of Quint6, the Grand River, or the Thames.

The policy of the British and Canadian Governments in the treatment of the Indians has always been kind and paternal. Its object has been to civilize, and Christianize. They have always been treated justly and generously—in striking contrast with the conduct of the Americans, whose policy has always been, and still is, one of extermination. Of course, no American will admit the fact, but there can be no doubt that the policy of their Government, supported by the quiet, though unexpressed concurrence of popular opinion, is that the sooner the Indian population disappears, the better, and whether it disappears through the ravages of war, or small-pox, firewater, or starvation, is to the American a matter of little consequence.

The Indians of the country now forming the Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have never been very numerous since the conquest, and the British and colonial authorities have had but little difficulty, and have been put to but little expense, in dealing with, or caring for, them. The plan of setting off for them certain portions of good farming land, called ‘reserves,’ and inducing them to settle on and cultivate these allotments, was adopted, and has proved eminently successful. Aa the Government holds the title to these lands, the Indian can neither sell nor mortgage them; and as each band receives an annual sum of money, and yearly gifts of clothing, farming implements, and materials for hunting and fishing, the Indian of these Provinces never suffers from cold or hunger, and if he be prudent and industrious, he may become relatively rich. By the kindness of Col. Dennis, the indefatigable and most able Deputy-Minister of the Interior, I have before me the reports of his department for the years 1875, ’6, ’7, ’8 and '9, from which I find that the Indians of Ontario now number 16,000. Of these the Oneidas, are on the Thames Reserve—the Chippewas, Moravians, andMunsees are also there —the Wyandotts are at Anderdon, the Chippewas, the Ottawas, and Potta-wattamies at Walpole Island, Snake Island, Rama, Saugeen, Nawash, the Christian Islands, and on Lakes Superior and Huron, on the north-east shore of Georgian Bay, Garden River, and on Manitoulin Island; the Mississua-gas are at Scugog River and Mud Lakes, the Credit and Alnwick; Mohawks in the Bay of Quints; the Six Nations on Grand River ; the Algon-quins at Golden Lake, Carlton, Renfrew and Nipissing. In the Proyince of Quebec there are 12,000, consisting of Iroquois at Caughnawaga and St. Regis; Algonquins at the Lake of Two Mountains and in the country north of Ottawa; Abenakis at St. Francis and Becancour; Montaignais at Lake St. John and Betsiamits; Amalicites at Viger; Micmacs at Maria, Restigouche, and Gasp6 Basin; and Naskapees on the Lower St. Laurence.

The Province of Nova Scotia has 2,000, all being Micmacs. New Brunswick has 1,400, being Micmacs and Amalicites; and Prince Edward Island has 266 Micmacs. It may here be added that Manitoba and the North-West Territories contain 30,000 Chippewas, Crees, Saulteaux, Blackfeet and Sioux. The Athabasca District has 2,000 Crees, Assiniboines, Chipwagans, and Beavers. British Columbia has 35,000, and Rupert’s Land 4,000, making a total of the Indians of the Dominion to be about 104,000, of whom about 72,000 are found west of the boundaries of Ontario.

Mr. Morris, after a successful career as a barrister in Montreal, obtained a seat in Parliament in 1861, where he represented his native county of Lanark until Confederation, and thence to 1872, when he accepted the position of Chief-Justice of Manitoba. He took an active and leading; part in tho negotiations which ended in the Confederacy of 1867. In 1869 he took office under Sir John A. Macdonald as Minister of Inland Revenue until 2nd July, 1872, when, his health failing, he was induced to try the climate of the North-West, and, taking the office of Chief-Justice of Manitoba, he discharged its duties with credit to himself and to the entire satisfaction of the people, until the 2nd December, when, on the retirement of Mr. Archibald from the rule of the Province, he accepted the Lieutenant-Governorship of that Province, and having been appointed commissioner for Indian affairs for Manitoba and the North-West Territories, he took the leading part in negotiating the treaties with the Indians, the history of which he now gives us in the interesting book just published.

Until the Dominion obtained control of the enormous region known as-the North-West Territories, the Indians of the country had been under the mild and satisfactory rule of the Hudson’s Bay Company. But when, this rule terminated, and the Riel troubles of 1869-70 arose, the Indian mind was much disturbed, and when in 1871 and subsequent years, efforts-were made by the Dominion Government, through Mr. Morris and his associate commissioners, to obtain the Indian title for the purpose of enabling the emigrant to secure peaceable possession of the rich lands of the country, he found the Indians difficult to deal with. Time pressed. The erection of a new Province in the newly acquired tract; and the rush of emigrants anxious to settle in the North-West compelled the Government to use the utmost expedition in securing the title to the lands which the incomers would require—for it would have been to the last degree dangerous to give the Indians occasion to say that their lands had been seized upon, and their rights invaded. The Indian has always had a nervous dread of white immigration and a sharp intellect in bargaining for the sale of his title—for he claimed the whole continent as his by preoccupation and the decree of the Great Spirit —jealous, grasping, and apprehensive he required the most delicate handling, for the appearance even of a surveyor with his theodolite and his chain was sufficient to set on fire a whole tribe. The whites of Manitoba were involved in the wretched troubles connected with the Riel affair; party spirit ran high between those who looked upon Riel as a rebel and a murderer, and those who considered him, though rash, still the exponent of sound political views, since he was resisting what we may as well now confess was the ill advised policy of the Government in sending up Mr. Macdougall as Lieut.-Governor, with a fully equipped staff of officers, without consultation with the people he was sent to govern. The Indians saw that their invaders were at war with each Other, and the arrival of the armed force under Colonel, now Sir Garnet Wolseley, intensified their alarm; they were preparing to take sides in the approaching conflict for they knew that soon their hunting grounds would be occupied by the resistless European. No step had been taken by the Government to purchase their title, and the result of all these circumstances was that they were in an agitated state, and it soon became obvious that the Commissioners at last sent by the Dominion authorities to make the necessary treaties, would And their task extremely difficult and fatiguing.

Before proceeding to describe the work so skillfully performed by Mr. Morris and his associate commissioners, it will be interesting to notice the sketch given by him of the treaties by which the rights of the Indians had been secured in the western portions of Upper Canada.

It will be remembered that, in 1811, the Earl of Selkirk purchased from the Hudson’s Bay Company a large tract of the territory, then known as Rupert’s Land. This tract was very much larger than the territory forming the present Province of Manitoba, which it included, but the settlers brought from Scotland by the Earl planted themselves chiefly on the banks of Red River, the centre of their operations being the present city of Winnipeg. In 1817 Lord Selkirk visited his immense domain and bought the Indian title to a strip on either side of Red River of two miles in width and extending from the mouth of the river to Great Forks. The Indians were made to comprehend the depth of the land they were surrendering by being told that it was the greatest distance, at which a horse on the level prairie could be seen, or daylight seen under his belly between his legs.’ For this tract, now worth many millions of dollars, the Earl agreed to pay to the owners, the Chippawas and Crees, each one hundred pounds of tobacco annually. In 1836 the company bought back the whole tract from the heirs of Lord Selkirk for £84,000, and were then able to give the Canadian, or rather the Imperial Government, a clear title in 1870.

Valuable minerals having been discovered on the northern shorn of Lakes Superior and Huron, the Government of the Province of Canada commissioned the late Hon. W. B. Robinson to negotiate with the Indians holding these lands, and that gentleman, in 1850, made two treaties, which formed the models on which all the subsequent treaties with the Indians of the North-West were framed; their main features being annuities, reserves, and liberty to hunt and fish on the lands until sold by the Crown.

In 1862, the Government of the old Province of Canada obtained the surrender of the Indian title to the Great Manitoulin Island. In 1871, the Dominion Government, being pressed in the manner already mentioned, set seriously to work to quiet the Indians by arranging with them solemn treaties. It was considered desirable to begin with the Ojibbewas or Chippewas found between Thunder Bay and the north-west angle of Lake of the Woods. Mr. Wemyss McKenzie Simpson was appointed Indian Commissioner for the purpose. Having issued a proclamation inviting the Indians to meet him at Lower Fort Garry, or the Stone Fort, on 25th July, 1871, and at Manitoba Post, a Hudson’s Bay Fort at the north end of Lake Manitoba, on the 17th August following, Mr. Simpson, accompanied by His Excellency the Hon. A. G. Archibald, then Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and the North-West Territories; the Hon. James McKay, and Mr. Molyneux St John, attended at these points, and, after much negotiation, succeeded in completing two treaties—known as Nos. One and Two. The principal features of these treaties, for they were identical, were the absolute relinquishment to Her Majesty of the Indian title to the tracts described ; the reservation of tracts sufficient to furnish 160 acres to each Indian family of five ; provisions for the maintenance of schools; the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors on the reserves; a present of three dollars to each Indian, and the payment of three dollars per head yearly for ever. Roughly, these treaties secured the title to a tract of country extending from the present easterly boundary of Manitoba, westerly along the boundary line between Canada and the United States—the 49th parallel—about 300 miles, and running north about 250 miles, including the present Province of Manitoba and forming an area of about60,000square miles of admirable land.

In the same year (1871), it was found necessary to obtain the title to the area from the watershed of Lake Superior to the north-west angle of the Lake of the Woods, and from the American boundary to the height of land from which the streams flow towards Hudson’s Bay. This step had become necessary in order to render the route known as the “Dawson route” secure for the passage of emigrants, and to enable the Government to throw the land open for settlement. Messrs. W. M. Simpson, S. J. Dawson and W. J. Pether were appointed Commissioners, and, in July, 1871, they met the Indians at Fort Francis. Difficulties arose, and no treaty was effected. The matter was adjourned, and the Indians were asked to consider the proposals and meet again during the following summer. But they were not ready then, and the negotiations were indefinitely postponed. In 1873, it was determined to make another effort, and a commission was issued to Mr. Morris, then Lieutenant-Governor; Lieutenant Colonel Provencher, who had in the meantime been appointed Commissioner of Indian affairs in the place of Mr. Simpson, who had resigned; and Mr. Lindsay Russell, but the latter gentleman being unable to act, Mr. Dawson, now M.P. for Algoma, was appointed in his stead. The Commission, as now organized, met the Indians at the North-West angle late in September, 1873, and after protracted and difficult negotiations succeeded in completing the treaty No. Three.

The treaty was of great importance. It released that portion of the North-West between the westerly boundary of Ontario and the Province of Manitoba, and extending north about 250 miles. Its width is about the same, and a territory of about 55,000 square miles was released from the Indian title. It was of the utmost consequence that those lands should be speedily secured because the Dawson Road runs over them; the Canada Pacific Railway in its progress from Fort William to Selkirk on the Red River passes through them, and they are believed to be rich in minerals. The cupidity of the Indian, and his acuteness in bargaining, were conspicuously exhibited. Mr. Morris conducted the palaver. The demands of the Indians were so unreasonable, and their obstinacy so dogged that the negotiations were several times on the point of being broken off, and nothing but the fortunate combination of skill, patience, firmness and good temper on the part of the Lieutenant-Governor enabled him . to achieve the diplomatic triumph which was of the greater value since it struck the key-note of all the subsequent treaties, and taught the savage that though the Government would be generous, it would firmly resist imposition. Several days were consumed in fruitless talk; the Indians demanded a payment down of $15 for every head then present; $15 for each child thereafter to be bom forever; $50 each year for every chief, and other payments amounting to an additional $125,000 yearly, and that in addition to their reserves of land, and the right to hunt and fish. They had a very high estimate of the value of the territory. They evidently supposed it contained the precious metals, as during the council a speaker in the poetic style, peculiar to the Indian, exclaimed: ‘sound of the rustling of the gold is under my foot where T stand; we have a rich country; it is the Great Spirit who gave us this; where we stand upon is the Indians’ property, and belongs to them'.

The following are the chief articles of agreement: In consideration that the Indians surrendered to the Dominion, for Her Majesty, all their rights, titles and privileges to the lands described; Her Majesty agreed:

1. To set aside reserves for farming and other purposes not exceeding one square mile for each family of five; 2. To make a present of $12 for each man, woman and child in cash on the spot; 3. To maintain schools on the reserves whenever desired; 4. To interdict the introduction of all intoxicating liquors into the reserves; 5. To permit the Indians to hunt and fish over such parts of the surrendered tract as may not be sold by the Government; 6. To take a census of the Indian population, and pay yearly, a points to be selected and notified to the bands, the sum of $5 for each man, woman and child; 7. To expend $1,500 annually in the purchase of ammunition and net twine for distribution among them; 8. To supply to each band then actually cultivating the soil, or who should thereafter commence to cultivate it once for all, for the encouragement of the practice of agriculture among the Indians,’ the following articles, viz., ‘two hoes for for every family actually cultivating; also one spade per family as aforesaid; one plough for every ten families as aforesaid; five harrows for every twenty families as aforesaid; one scythe for every family as aforesaid and also one axe, and one crosscut saw, one hand-saw, one pit saw; the necessary files, one grindstone, one auger for each band, and also for each chief for the use of his band, one chest of ordinary carpenter’s tools; also for each band enough of wheat, barley, potatoes and oats to plant the land actually broken up for cultivation by such band; also for each band one yoke oxen, one bull and four cows; 9. To pay each chief $25 per year, and each subordinate officer, not exceeding three for each band, $15 per annum, and to give to these, once in every three years, a suitable suit of clothing; and to each chief, ‘ in recognition of the closing of the treaty; a suitable flag and medal’ The treaty was executed by Mr. Morris, Lieutenant-Governor, J. A. N. Provencher, and S. J. Dawson, Indian Commissioners, and by twenty-four chiefs representing the Salteaux tribe of the Ojibbeway Indians inhabiting the tract transferred, and it is attested by seventeen witnesses of whom one-is a young lady, a daughter of Mr. Morris, who after proving her ability, gracefully and effectively, to discharge the elegant, social duties of Government Houbo until the arrival, in Winnipeg, of her mother, was courageous enough to accompany her father on his rough journey to the North-West angle,, and challenge, in their own camps, the admiration of the handsome young ‘warriors’ of the Ojibbeways.

The next treaty is known as the Ju’Appelle (Who calls!) treaty, or No. Four, and is named from the Qu’Ap-pelle Lakes where it was made. The Indians treated with were the Cree and Saulteaux tribes, and by it 75,000 squaft miles of most valuable territory were secured. It includes a portion of the far-famed ‘fertile belt' and was the first step taken to bring the Indians of that splendid territory into close relations with the Government It extends from the westerly limits of No. Two, westerly along the American boundary about 350 miles, and runs in a north-east direction to the head of Lake Winnipegosis, about 300 miles north of the international boundary. In his report for 1875, the Hon. Mr. Laird, then Minister of the Interior, pays a high compliment to Mr. Morris, for 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. A commission was issued to Mr. Morris, Mr. Laird and Mr. Christie, a retired factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and a gentleman of large experience among the Indian tribes. These gentlemen met the Indians in September, 1874, at Lake Qu’Appelle, three hundred and fifty miles nearly due west from Winnipeg, accompanied by an escort of militia under Col. Osborne Smith, C. M. G. The Commissioners were met again by the excessive greed of the savage, and their difficulties were intensified by the jealousies existing between the Crees and the Chippewas but by firmness, gentleness and tact they eventually succeeded in securing a treaty similar in terms to Na Three. The conference opened on the 8th September, and the first three days were entirely fruitless; the Indians seemed unwilling to begin serious work, for they were undecided among themselves and could not make up their minds to put forward their speakers. On the fourth day, Mr. Morris addressed them for the fourth time, and his speech, given in full in the volume, shows the style of thought and language which was found so effectual with these children of the forest.

The account of the conference is exceedingly interesting. The pow-wow extended over Jsix days, and the subtlety of the Indian mind is strikingly exhibited in the speeches of the orators who strove in every possible way to dip their hands deeper and deeper into the Dominion treasury. No epitome can do justice to the minute accounts of them and the other conferences in which Mr. Morris was engaged while securing these valuable treaties, and the reader must be referred to the highly entertaining and instructive book itself.

Mr. Morris subsequently made a similar treaty at Fort Ellice with a few Indians who could not attend at Qu’Appelle, and he also in July, 1876, settled troublesome difficulties which had arisen out of Treaties One and Two.

In September, 1875, the Winnipeg or No. Five treaty was concluded* This covers an area of about 100,000 square miles. The territory lies north of that covered by Nos. Two and Three. Its extreme northerly point is at Split Lake, about 450 miles north of Winnipeg, and its width is about 350 miles. The region is inhabited by Chippewas and Swampy Crees. A treaty had become urgently necessary. It includes a great part of Lake Winnipeg, a sheet of water three hundred miles in length, having a width of seventy miles. Red River empties into it, and Nelson River flows from it to Hudson’s Bay. Steam navigation had been established on it before the treaty. A tramway of five miles was in course of construction to avoid the Grand Rapids, and connect that navigation with steamers on the River Saskatchewan. The Icelandic settlement, visited by Lord Dufferin, where he made one of his best speeches, was on the west side of the lake; and until the Pacific Railway supplies the want, this lake must, with the Saskatchewan, become the thoroughfare between Manitoba and the fertile prairies of the West. For these and other reasons the Minister of the Interior reported that 1 it was essential that the Indian title to all the territory in the vicinity of the lake should be extinguished so that settlers and traders might have undisturbed access to its waters, shores, islands, inlets, and tributary streams,’ Mr. Morris and the Hon. James McLay were thereupon appointed commissioners to treat with the Indiana They performed the work partly in 1875, and it was concluded in 1876 by the Hon. Thoa Howard, and Mr. J. L. Reid under instructions from Mr. Morris. The treaty was made at Norway House at the foot of the lake, and its terms are identical with those of Noa Three and Four, except that the quantity of land given to the families is smaller, and the gratuity was reduced from twelve to five dollars per head.

The treaties Nos. One, Two, Three, Four and Five comprised an area of about 290,000 miles; but there was still an immense unsurrendered tract lying east of the Rocky Mountains, between the American boundary and the 55th parallel, containing about 170,000 square miles, which, it was essential, should be immediately freed from the Indian title. This was effected by treaties Nos. Six and Seven. No. Six was made at Forts Carlton and Pitt The great region covered by it—or rather by the two, forming together what is officially' known as Na Six—embraces an area of about 120,000 square miles, and contains a vast extent of the most fertile lands of the North-West The Crees were the owners of this magnificent territory. They had ever since 1871 been uneasy about their lands, and had frequently expressed their desire to treat with the Government The Hon. Mr. Mills, Minister of the Interior, in his report for 1876, thus alludes to the matter: ‘Official reports received last year from His Honour Governor Morris and Col. French, the officer then in command of the Mounted Police Force, and from other parties, showed that a feeling of discontent and uneasiness prevailed very generally amongst the Assiniboines and Crees lying in the unceded territory between Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains. This state of feeling, which had prevailed amongst these Indians for some time past, had been increased by the presence, last summer, in their territories, of the parties engaged in the construction of the telegraph line, and also of a party belonging to the Geological Survey. To allay this state of feeling, and to prevent the threatened hostility of the Indian tribes to the parties then employed by the Government, His Honour Governor Morris requested and obtained authority to despatch a messenger to convey to these Indians the assurance that Commissioners would be sent this summer to negotiate a treaty with them, as had already been done with their brethren further east.

A commission was accordingly issued to Mr. Morris, the Hon. Mr. McKay, and Mr. Christie. These gentlemen first met the Indians near Fort Carlton, on the Saskatchewan, in August, 1876, and succeeded in effecting a treaty with the Plain and Wood Crees on the 23rd of that month, and with the Willow Crees on the 27th. The negotiations were exceedingly difficult and protracted, and the temper, discretion and firmness of the Commissioners were put to the severest test On the conclusion of the treaty at Fort Carlton, the Commissioners proceeded to Fort Pitt, where they met with no difficulty, and the treaty was soon concluded. The Commissioners discovered among these Indians a strong desire for instruction in farming, and for missionary and educational aid. The detailed account of these transactions is one of the most interesting portions of Mr. Morris attractive book, but the want of space prevents full quotations, and meagre ones would spoil the subject. Treaty No. Six extends from the westerly boundary of No. Five to the Rocky Mountains, a distance of about 600 miles, and from the northern boundaries of Nos. Seven and Four to the 55th parallel, the greatest width being about 300 miles. The projected route of the Pacific Railway passes through nearly its entire length. This was the last treaty in which Mr. Morris took a part His term of office expiring in 1878, he left Manitoba and returned to Ontario. A comparatively small territory, however, lying between the Rocky Mountains and Nos. Four and Six was still unceded, and as it was important to obtain the Indian title as soon as possible, a commission was issued in 1877 for the purpose to the Hon. David Laird, then Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Territories, and Lieut-CoL McLeod of the Mounted Police Force. This region was occupied by the Blackfeet. They met the Commissioners at the Blackfoot crossing, on the Bow River, on the 17th September, 1877, and after five days of tedious pow-wowing, the treaty No. Seven was concluded. The terms were substantially the same as those of Nos. Three and Four, except that, as some of the bands desired to engage in pastoral instead of agricultural pursuits, they were given cattle instead of farming implements. The Minister of the Interior well observes in his report that 4 the conclusion of this treaty with these warlike and intractable tribes, at a time when the Indians, immediately across the border, were engaged in open hostilities with the United States troops, is certainly a conclusive proof of the just policy of the Government of Canada towards the aboriginal population ’— to which Mr. Morris adds these significant words: (And of the confidence of the Indians in the promises and just dealing of the servants of the British Grown in Canada—a confidence that can only be kept up by the strictest observance of the stipulations of the treaties. The area covered by the treaty is about 35,000 square miles.

This imposing series of treaties secured to the Dominion the rights of the following Indians: Chippewas and Crees, of Treaty No. One 3815; do of No. Two 971;Chippewas and Saulteaux of No. Three 2657; Chippewas, Saulteaux and Crees, of No. Four 5713; of No. Five 2968; Plain and Wood Crees, of No. Six, 6744, and Blackfeet, of Na Seven, 6519; a total of 29,027 They covered an area of 460,000square miles of land whose richness is unsurpassed by any tract in the world, and were effected without a blow or a bitter word. They have been faithfully observed by all parties, though very recent events have placed a great strain on the prudence and good faith of several tribes affected by them, and they stand monuments of British justice and mercy, the sources of untold blessings as well to the original owners of the magnificent territories they convey, as to the teeming thousands of emigrants who may now till their lands in security, while their brethren across the border sleep with their rifles at their sides, prepared at any moment to hear the fearful war-whoop of the Indian, whose lands he knows have been stolen, and whose most sacred rights have been trampled on by a government whose policy to them is injustice, and whose object is their utter extermination. Besides the mutual advantages secured by these treaties a very important one must not be overlooked. They have caused a complete cessation of tribal warfare. An intelligent Ojibbeway Indian trader said to Mr. Morris, that the change in this respect was wonderful. 'Before' he said, ‘the Queen’s Government came, we were never safe, but now I can deep in my tent anywhere and have no fear. I can go to the Blackfeet and Cree camps and they treat me as a friend.’

Mr. Morris’s chapter on the ‘Sioux in the North-West Territories’ is especially interesting, and just now that Sitting Bull’s stay in Canada threatens to involve us in complications with the American Government, it is extremely valuable. Thus far they have given us no cause of complaint, for they have not made Canada a base of warlike operations against the Americans, as it was feared they would. This observance of international law is due to the great influence obtained over the Indian mind by all British officers—for the Indian has so profound a respect, and so warm a love for their Great Mother over the sea, that he will at any time restrain his strongest passions to please her.

Mr. Morris closes his work with a chapter on the ‘Administration of the treaties, the Half-breeds, and the future of the Indian tribes. The advice and opinions of a gentleman so well acquainted with the Indian character as the late Lieufenant-Governor of Manitoba, can not be otherwise than highly valuable. It appears that the policy of the Government is meeting with great success. Band after band, and tribe after tribe, seeing that the buffalo must soon fail them, are at this moment anxiously and industriously turning their attention, some to a pastoral, others to an agricultural life, and there is every reason to believe that before many years the large Indian population of the North-West will have buried the hatchet, and settled down to the calm of civilized life. This notice of Mr. Morris’ admirable and most opportune book cannot be better closed than by a reproduction of his own final words on the

FUTURE OF THE INDIANS.

‘And now I come to a very important question, What is to be the future of the Indian population of the North-West? I believe it to be a hopeful one. I have every confidence in the desire and ability of the present administration, as of any succeeding one, to carry out the provisions of the treaties, and to extend a helping hand to this helpless population. That conceded, with the machinery at their disposal, with a judicious selection of agents and farm instructors, and the additional aid of well-selected carpenters and efficient school teachers, I look forward to seeing the Indians faithful allies of the Crown, while they can gradually be made an increasing and self-supporting population.

'They are wards of Canada. Let us do our duty by them, and repeat in the North-West the success which has attended our dealings with them in old Canada for the last hundred years.

‘But the Churches, too, have their duties to fulfil. There is a common ground between the Christian Churches and the Indians, as they all believe, as we do. in a Great Spirit. The transition thence to the Christian’s God is an easy one.

‘Many of them appeal for missionaries, and utter the Macedonian cry, “Come over and help us.” The Churches have already done and are doing much. The Church of Borne has its bishops and clergy, who have long been labouring assiduously and actively. The Church of England has its bishops and clergy on the shores of the Hudson’s Bay, in the cold region of the Mackenzie and the dioceses of Rupert’s Land and Saskatchewan. The Methodist Church has its missions on Lake Winnipeg, in the Saskatchewan Valley, and on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The Presbyterians have lately commenced a work among the Chippewas and Sioux. There is room enough and to spare for all, and the Churches should expand and maintaiu their work. Already many of the missionaries have made records which will live in history. Among those of recent times, Archbishop Tache, Bishop Grandin, Pfere Lacombe, and many others of the Catholic Church; Bishops Machray, Bompas, Archdeacons Cochran and Cowley of tne Church of England; Rev. Messrs. Macdougall, of the Wesleyan, and Nisbet, of the Presbyterian Churches, have lived and laboured; and though some of them have gone to their rest, they have left and will leave behind them a record of self-denial, untiring zeal, and many good results. Let the Churches persevere and prosper.

‘And now I close. Let us have Christianity and civilization to leaven the mass of heathenism and paganism among the Indian tribes ; let us have a wise and paternal Government faithfully carrying out the provisions of our treaties, and doing its utmost to help and elevate tne Indian population, who have been cast upon our care, and we will have peace, progress, and concord among them in the North-West; and instead of the Indian melting away, as one of them in older Canada tersely put it, “as snow before the sun,” we will see our Indian population loyal subjects of the Crown—happy, prosperous, and self-sustaining—and Canada will be enabled to feel that in a truly patriotic spirit our country has done its duty by the red men of the North-West, and thereby to herself. So may It be.’

This article was taken from the
Canadian Monthly and National Review


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