L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia
Treaties of Canada with Indians
[This text was originally published in 1907 by the Bureau of American Ethnology as part of its Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico . It was later reproduced, in 1913, by the Geographic Board of Canada. The work done by the American Bureau was monumental, well informed and incorporated the most advanced scholarship available at the time. In many respects, the information is still useful today, although prudence should be exercised and the reader should consult some of the contemporary texts on the history and the anthropology of the North American Indians suggested in the bibliographic introduction to this section. The articles were not completely devoid of the paternalism and the prejudices prevalent at the time. While some of the terminology used would not pass the test of our "politically correct" era, most terms have been left unchanged by the editor. If a change in the original text has been effected it will be found between brackets [.] The original work contained long bibliographies that have not been reproduced for this web edition. For the full citation, see the end of the text.]
[The original lengthy article of the American Bureau on Indian treaties was substituted by the editor with this one that concerned only the situation in Canada , as of 1907. Given the importance of Indian Treaties in Canada - they were constitutionalized by ss. 25 and 35 of the Constitutional Act, 1982 - the reader is urged to consult the Historic Treaty Information site of the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs for further information on the subject of Indian Treaties. The entry under treaties of the Encyclopedia of North American Indians should also be examined, although the discussion is applied in a specific way to the situation in the United States . The University of Alberta library has a fine Resource Guide for Canadian Indian Treaties, though some of the items are not available to the casual web searcher. For a tongue-in-cheek current native perspective on treaties, consult this page. The Assembly of First Nations of Canada has an interesting paper entitled: Peace, Friendship and Respect: Understanding Indigenous Treaties in Canada [PDF document]; as well, consult this generic page from the same source. The Canadian Encyclopedia also has an excellent page on the history and the content of Indian Treaties in Canada. In the following article, links have been made to the text of each of the main treaties mentioned.]
Treaties. The British Government has always recognised the title of the Indian tribes to the territory they occupied. The Indian title to the portion of southern Ontario that had not previously been acquired by the French was extinguished by a series of purchases of which the following are the most important:
A. Mississauga. - Lands purchased prior to 1784.
B. Chippewa. - May 19, 1790, for £1,200 cy [currency].
C. Chippewa. - Purchased in 1785; northern and eastern boundaries doubtful.
D. Mississauga . - Dec. 7, 1792, for £1,180-7-4 stg.
E. Chippewa. - Sept. 7, 1796, for £800 cy.
F. Chippewa. - Sept. 7, 1796, for £1,200 cy.
G. Chippewa. - May 22, 1798, confirming surrender of May 19, 1795; for £101 cy.; 28,000 acres.
H. Mississauga. - Aug. 1, 1805, confirming surrender of Sept. 23, 1787; for 10s. "and divers good and valuable considerations given on 23rd September, 1787."
I. Mississauga . - Sept. 5-6, 1806, confirming the surrender of Aug. 2, 1805; for £1,000 cy.; 85,000 acres.
J. Chippewa. - Nov. 17-18, 1815, for £4,000 cy.; 250,000 acres.
K. Chippewa. - Oct. 17, 1818, for £1,200 cy.; 1,592,000 acres.
L. Mississauga. - Oct. 28, 1818 for annuity of £522-10 cy.; 648,000 acres.
M. Mississauga. - Nov 5, 1818, for annuity of £740 cy.; 1,951,000 acres.
N. Mississauga . - Nov. 28, 1822, confirming surrender of May 31, 1819; for annuity of £642-10 cy.; 2,748,000 acres
O. Chippewa. - July 8, 1822, confirming surrenders of Mar. 8, 1819 and May 9, 1820; for annuity of £600 cy.; 580,000 acres.
P. Chippewa. - July 10 1827, confirming surrender of April 26, 1825; for annuity of £1,100 cy.; 2,200,000 acres.
Q. Chippewa (Saugeens). - Aug. 9, 1836, for annuity of £1,250 cy.; 1,500,000 acres.
R. Chippewa. - Oct 13, 1854; for "interest of principal sum arising out of the sale of our lands."
In 1811, Lord Selkirk purchased from the Hudson's Bay Company a tract of land including practically the whole of the drainage basins of the Assiniboine and Red rivers, the country to the south and west of Winnipeg to Rainy river and the territory lying between lake Winnipeg and approximate long. 102°30' and extending northward to lat. 52° to 52°30'. This tract included a large area now comprehended in the states of Minnesota and North Dakota . In 1817, Selkirk entered into negotiations with the Chippewa and Crees for the extinction of their title to a tract along the Red and Assiniboine rivers. It was explained to the Indians that the width of the tract they were surrendering was "the greatest distance, at which a horse on the level prairie could be seen, or daylight seen under his belly between his legs." This area was described in the treaty, as follows:
"All that tract of land adjacent to Red River, and Assiniboyne River, beginning at the mouth of Red River and extending along the same as far as Great Forks at the mouth of Red Lake River and along Assiniboyne River as far as the Musk Rat River, otherwise called Rivière des Champignons, and extending to the distance of six miles from Fort Douglas on every side, and likewise from Fort Daer [sic], and also from the Great Forks and in other posts extending in breadth to the distance of two English statute miles back from the banks of the said river."
The agreement provided that each nation should receive 100 pounds of "good and merchantable tobacco," annually. On September 7, 1850, Hon. Win. B. Robinson concluded the Robinson-Superior treaty with the Ojibewa (Chippewa) of Lake Superior whereby the latter surrendered their right and title to the "Northern shore of Lake Superior, in the said Province of Canada, from Batchewanaung [Batchawana] Bay to Pigeon River, at the western extremity of said lake, and inland throughout the extent to the height of land which separates the territory covered by the charter of the Honourable the Hudson's Bay Company from the said tract. And also the islands in the said, lake within the boundaries of the British possessions therein."
The agreement provided for the payment of £2,000 cy. and an annuity of £500 cy. The number of Indians included in this treaty was estimated at 1,240 including 84 [Métis].
On September 8, 1850, Mr. Robinson concluded the Robinson-Huron treaty on similar terms with the Ojibewa (Chippewa) of Lake Huron. They received a gratuity of £2,180 cy. and an annuity of £800 cy. This treaty covered the "eastern and northern shores of Lake Huron from Penetanguishene to Sault Ste. Marie, and thence to Batchewanaung [Batchawana] Bay on the northern shore of Lake Superior, together with the islands in the said lakes opposite to the shores thereof, and inland to the height of land which separates the territory covered by the charter of the Honourable Hudson's Bay Company from Canada; as well as all unconceded lands within the limits of Canada West to which they have any just claim."
The Lake Huron Chippewa were stated to number 1,422 including some 200 [Métis].
Both these treaties contained the provision that, if the territory should, at anytime, produce an amount which would enable the Government of the Province, without incurring loss, to increase the annuity, it would be augmented, but it was not to exceed the sum of £1 cy, per head in any one year. Pursuant to this provision, the annuity has been increased to $4.00 per annum.
On October 6, 1862, the Ottawa and Chippewa of Manitoulin island signed the Manitoulin Island treaty. It recited that:: the Indian title to the said island was surrendered to the Crown, August 9, 1836, by virtue of a treaty between Sir Francis Bond Head and the chiefs of the Ottawa and Chippewa then claiming title; that, but few mainland Indians had removed to the island, and that it was deemed expedient to assign to the Indians, certain portions and to sell the portions available for settlement.
The treaty covered the portion of Manitoulin island west of Heywood island and South bay, the Indians refusing to cede the eastern portion. It stipulated that the Crown would grant each head of a family 100 acres, each single person over twenty-one, 50 acres; each family of orphan children under twenty-one, containing two or more persons, 100 acres; each single orphan 50 acres and, that interests from the investment of proceeds of land sales should be paid annually.
On August 3, 1871, Treaty Number One, or Stone Fort Treaty was concluded with the Chippewa and Swampy Crees (Maskegon) of Manitoba . In 1870, owing to the influx of settlers, the Indians had manifested much uneasiness. They repudiated the Selkirk Treaty and interfered with settlers and surveyors. Proclamations were issued inviting the Indians to meet the Indian Commissioner, Wemyss McDonald Simpson, and Lieut. Governor Archibald at the Stone Fort, Man., July 27. When the meeting opened, there were a thousand Indians and a considerable number of [Métis].
The treaty covered the tract described as follows:
It provided for the reservation of tracts of land sufficient to furnish 160 acres of land to each family of five; a present of $3 per head and payment of an annuity of $3 per head.
On August 21, 1871, Number Two or Manitoba Post Treaty was concluded with Chippewa, of Manitoba . It ceded a tract described as follows:
The terms respecting allotments of land, presents and annuities were same as Treaty Number One.
All the Indians included within the treaty limits, with one exception - the Portage band - were summoned to the conferences and assented to the terms. The omission of the Portage band proved, later, a fruitful source of trouble. In 1870, they had warned off settlers and the Hudson's Bay Company had had to make terms with them for three years for the admission of settlers. In 1874, they endeavoured to prevent the conclusion of Treaty "Number Four" by sending a message that "the white man had not kept his promises." To obtain their adhesion to the treaty, (Number Two), the Commissioners gave them preferential treatment. In addition to the 160 acres per family of five, they conceded them "a further tract enclosing said reserve, to contain an equivalent to twenty-five square miles in breadth, to be laid out around the reserve." Under this clause they claimed nearly half the province of Manitoba . In 1876, an agreement was arrived at and, as the original band had divided into three, reserves were assigned to each.
When Treaties Number One and Number Two were made, certain verbal promises were made to the Indians but were not included in the treaty nor recognized by the Dominion Government. On April 30, 1875, an Order in Council was passed which authorized the distribution of the agricultural implements, etc., promised by the Commissioners. It also authorized the increase of the annual payments from $3 per head to $5. This was accepted by the bands who were parties to Treaties Number One and Number Two.
The North-west Angle Treaty, or Number Three, was concluded October 3, 1873, with Saulteaux (Chippewa) of northwestern Ontario and of Manitoba . It extinguished the Indian title to the following tract:
For the surrender of this tract, comprising about 55,000 sq. miles, the Dominion Government covenanted to reserve not more than one square mile for each family of five, "or in that proportion for larger or smaller families", to pay $12 per head and an annuity of $5 per head, each Chief to receive $25 per annum and each subordinate officer, $15 per annum.
The Qu'Appelle Treaty, or Number Four, was concluded September 15, 1874, at Fort Qu'Appelle with Cree, Saulteaux (Chippewa) and other Indians. They surrendered all their rights, titles and privileges in the following tract, and elsewhere:
The terms respecting annuities, gratuities and reserves were same as in Treaty Number Three.
In 1875, the Chippewa, Cree and Assiniboin who had not been present at Qu'Appelle gave their adhesion to the treaty. In the same year, a treaty was concluded with the Fort Ellice Chippewa. They were within the bounds of Treaty Number Two but, owing to their distance from Manitoba House, had not been treated with when that treaty was made.
The Winnipeg Treaty, or Number Five, was signed September 20, 1875. It comprehends an area of approximately 100,000 sq. miles inhabited by Chippewa and Swampy Cree (Maskegon) of Manitoba and Ontario . The tract surrendered is defined as follows:
The terms of the treaty were identical with those of Treaties Number Three and Number Four except that only 180 acres, and, in some cases, 100 acres, were granted to each family of five. The gratuity was only $5 per head. It was agreed that $500 annually, should be expended for ammunition and twine for nets.
In the years 1908, 1909 and 1910 adhesions were obtained to Treaty Number Five. The Indians north and east of lake Winnipeg, and at forts Churchill and York on Hudson bay , ceded 133,400 square miles as follows:
In August and September 1878, Treaty Number Six was signed at Carlton and at Fort Pitt with the Plain Cree (Paskwawininiwuk) the Wood Cree (Sakawithiniwuk) and 'Assiniboin of the Plains' of Saskatchewan and Alberta . It covered an area of 120,000 sq. miles comprised within the following limits:
The Indians received reserves on the basis of $40 acres for a family of five. The treaty also provided for a gratuity of $12 each, a payment of $5 each, annually, and certain expenditures for provisions, etc.
On the 11th February, 1889, an important adhesion was made to this Treaty ceding 11,066 square miles as follows:
The Blackfeet Treaty or Number Seven, was concluded September 22, 1877, with the Blackfeet (Siksika), Bloods (Kainah), Peigan, Sarsi and Stonies (Assiniboin) of Alberta . It covered an area of 35,000 sq. miles, bounded as follows:
The conditions respecting reserves were allotted in more generous proportions, but the gratuities and annuities were same as Treaty Number Three.
In addition to the reserves segregated under the provisions of the foregoing treaties, reserves at Oak River and Birdtail Creek were set apart, in 1874, for a body of United States Sioux who had fled to Canada after the massacres of the whites in Minnesota in 1862. In 1876, another reserve was allotted to them, near Oak Lake , Man.
In June, July and august, 1899, Treaty Number Eight was concluded with the Indians occupying the territory south and west of Great Slave lake . The area covered by this surrender was defined as follows:
The Dominion Government agreed to segregate reserves to the extent of 160 acres to each Indian; to pay gratuities of $32 to each chief, $22 to each headman and $12 to every other Indian and annuities of $25, $15 and $5, respectively. Reserves can be set apart in severalty which condition occurs in only one other Treaty, in Number Ten.
In 1899, 2,217 Indians gave their adhesion: in 1900, 1,106 Indians were admitted, making a total of 3,323. The Indian annuitants under this treaty are classified as follows: 1,161 Crees, 326 Beavers, 1,238 Chipewyans, 282 Slaves, 194 Yellow-knives and 122 Dogribs.
In July and August, 1905, and June, July and August, 1906, the James Bay Treaty, or Number Nine, was concluded with the Indians occupying the portion of Ontario lying to the north of the height-of-land, south of Albany river and east, of the limits of Treaty Number Three.
It extinguished the Indian title to the area described as follows:
It provided for the segregation of reserves in the proportion of 160 acres for each family of five, a gratuity of $8 each and an annuity of $4 each.
An agreement made July 3, 1905, provides that the province of Ontario shall repay to the Dominion amounts disbursed under the provisions of this treaty, for gratuities and annuities.
Treaty Number Ten was concluded in August and September, 1906. It extinguished the Indian title in northern Alberta and northern Saskatchewan . The area included in this treaty is defined as follows:
"All that territory situated partly in the province of Saskatchewan and partly in the province of Alberta, and lying to the east of Treaty Eight and to the north of Treaties Five, Six and the addition to Treaty Six, containing approximately an area of eighty-five thousand eight hundred (85,800) square miles and which may be described as follows: -
The terms respecting reserves, gratuities and annuities were same as Treaty Number Eight.
In 1906, 312 Chipewyans and 82 Crees received gratuity and annuity moneys under Treaty Number Ten. In August, 1907, the Barren Land and Lac la Hache bands of Chipewyans gave their adhesions to the treaty. In the Barren Land band 232 were treated with and, in the Lac la Hache band, 97, making a total of 641 Chipewyans and 82 Crees under this treaty.
Source: James WHITE, ed., Handbook of Indians of Canada , Published as an Appendix to the Tenth Report of the Geographic Board of Canada , Ottawa , 1913, 632p., pp. 472-479.
© 2004 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College