The government of Canada embarked on the treaty process as a recognized means of negotiating the surrender of land for the expansion of settlement. The Native inhabitants of Canada saw treaties as a means of safeguarding their way of life and their rights in the face of impending incursions by settlers. Both sides had very distinct viewpoints on matters of land and property rights, and neither fully understood the other. In July 1871, Lieutenant-Governor Archibald and Indian Superintendent Wemyss Simpson met with representatives of the Saulteaux, Swampy Cree, and other tribes of southern Manitoba to negotiate the first treaty with the Natives of Western Canada. The government tabled an offer of 160 acres per family of five and a guarantee of hunting and fishing rights. The Natives responded with concerns regarding future land holdings for their descendants, education rights, and livestock and farming implements to work their allotted acreages. After heavy negotiation, the Natives agreed to the standard 160 acres with annuity payments of $15 for each family of five, while the government representatives verbally agreed to augment this settlement with livestock, implements, and clothing. Called the Stone Fort Treaty because it was negotiated at Lower Fort Garry, Treaty 1 was signed on 3 August but the verbal agreements reached between the negotiators, designated the "Outside Promises," were overlooked in the dispatch of the treaty to Ottawa. Not until 1875, after repeated Native complaints of non-compliance, agitation by two lieutenant-governors, and the personal investigation of the Minister of the Interior, were the Outside Promises accepted as part of Treaty 1 and extended to include Treaty 2.

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