We Are All Treaty People

  • Treaty 4
    • Pascal Breland

      Pascal Breland

      Pascal Breland was a farmer was a fur trader, farmer, judge and politician. He was born in 1811 and spent most of his life in the Wood Mountain, Cypress Hills, Fort Pitt area. He was elected to the first legislative assembly of the province of Manitoba in 1870, and acted as commissioner for Indian Affairs. As commissioner he investigated a Sioux uprising in 1873, and paved the way for Treaty Four by notifying Cree Chiefs of the upcoming negotiations at Fort Qu'Appelle.

      As a Metis politician and civil servant Breland earned the respect of both Metis and Native peoples in present day south Saskatchewan.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XII, pp. 716

    • Pratt, Charles (Askenootow)

      Pratt, Charles (Askenootow)

      Charles Pratt, or Askenootow (Worker of the Earth) was a catechist for the Church of England, a Hudson's Bay Company boatman, a school teacher and an interpreter at the Treaty 4 negotiations at Fort Qu'Appelle. Askenootow was born in 1816 into a Cree-Assiniboine tribe, the Young Dogs, between Mission and Echo Lakes in the Qu'Appelle Valley. At the age of 6, Askenootow was sent to the Red River settlement with the Anglican Missionary John West to learn to read and write. In 1823, Askenootow was baptized into the Church of England and given the name Charles Pratt.

      In the early 1850's, Pratt became a Church Missionary Society (CMS) catechist and lay preacher to the Cree and Assiniboine in the Fort Pelly - Touchwood Hills - Qu'Appelle River area. During his time as a catechist, Pratt established 5 missions, even though he was paid less than European catechists and was forced to deal with the racist attitudes of his CMS superiors. Pratt, who continued to hunt buffalo, fish and trap, was well known for trying to help his people through times of starvation. Pratt would sometimes go through all his supplies given to him by the CMS and share them with his people in order to ease their suffering, thus leaving himself destitute.

      Pratt acted as an interpreter at the Treaty 4 negotiations at Fort Qu'Appelle in 1874 and again in 1875, when both White Bear and Payepot adhered to Treaty 4. Pratt retired to the Gordon Indian Reserve in 1876, where he lived out his days as a school teacher and catechist. Pratt died in 1888.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 711-712

    • William Joseph Christie

      William Joseph Christie

      William Joseph Christie was an HBC officer, first near Hudson's Bay, then later (1858) at Fort Edmonton. While at Edmonton he pressed for the making of a Treaty with the Indians, and after resigning from the HBC in 1873 he was made a commissioner for Treaties Four and Six. The Native peoples at Treaty Six resented his connections to the HBC, and after securing some adhesions and reporting on settlement on reserves he retired.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XII, pp. 194

    • Keeseekoowewin


      Keeseekoowenin, which means "Skyman" or "Sky chief" was a Saulteaux Chief, trapper, farmer, and hunter who was born around 1818 and died in 1906. He was described as over six feet tall, of magnificient physique, and excellent buffalo hunter, farmer, and trapper.

      Keeseekoowenin signed an adhesion to Treaty Four in 1875, at the Qu'Appelle Lakes, with other band members settling near Clear Lake. His son, Louis O' Soup, settled with band members on the Saskatchewan River and eventually led a delegation to Ottawa to lobby for Treaty Rights.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XII, pp. 194

    • Ka-Kiwistahaw


      Kakiwistahaw was a Cree chief who was born around 1810. A leader of the Rabbitskin peoples, Kakiwistahaw signed Treaty Four in 1874. He took a took a reserve on the south side of the Qu'Appelle valley and his people focused on agriculture. In 1885 they upheld their Treaty promises and did not partake in the Riel Rebellion.

      In 1886 the residents of Broadview, Saskatchewan, attempted to obtain a portion of the Kakiwistahaw reserve land that bordered the railway. The chief was against the surrender, and when David Laird attempted to secure the surrender in 1902 Kakiwistahaw said, "When we made Treaty at Qu'Appelle you told me to choose out land for myself and now you come to speak to me here. We were told to take this land and we are going to keep it. Did I not tell you a long time ago that you would come some time. No."

      Laird did not obtain the surrender, but in 1906, only one year after Kakiwistahaw's death, 33, 271 acres of reserve land (70% of the reserve) was secured.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XIII, pp. 536

    • Kiwisance


      Kiwisance (Cowessess) was a Cree/Sauteaux Chief that signed Treaty Four in 1874, though he did not take a reserve until 1878 after the Buffalo were gone. After being removed from the Cypress Hills Kiwisance settled in the Qu'Appelle Valley where his people excelled at agriculture. Throughout his life he supported the Canadian government, at one point resisting a call from Chief Piapot to meet over the Treaty promises made in 1874.

      Kiwisance died in 1886, and was succeeded as chief by his rival Louis O' Soup.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XII, pp. 477

    • Mimiy (Gabriel Cote)

      Mimiy (Gabriel Cote)

      Gabriel Cote was a Saulteaux Chief who was a noted hunter and trader that signed Treaty Four in 1874. His relationship with the HBC caused him trouble at the Treaty Four negotiations when other Saulteaux Chiefs confined him to his tent to protest the sale of Ruperts Land to the Canadian government.

      Cote eventually settled on a reserve and took up farming. He was known as one who cooperated with whites, and was said to be a "company Chief," or one who owed his position to the HBC. He also may have been held in contempt by those who preferred to follow the traditional ways, while he focused on the change to farming.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XII, pp. 477

    • Necanete


      Necanete was a Cree Chief that grew up in the Cypress Hills and was a member of Treaty Four under Kahkewistahaw. When the Buffalo were gone Necanete and his people survived by hunting small game in the Cypress Hills, chopping wood, and selling horses. Around 1881 the Cree people were induced to go north to take reserves, but Necanete stayed though he received no Treaty benefits or government assistance.

      Necanete died in 1897 in the Cypress Hills, but had not received a reserve. His successor, Crooked Legs, obtained a land grant near maple Creek in 1913, but the First Nation was not paid Treaty benefits until 1975.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XII, pp. 779

    • Pasqua


      Pasqua was a Cree/Saulteaux Chief that signed Treaty Four in 1874, and was one of the few Chiefs to be practicing agriculture before the treaty negotiations. However, Pasqua did not accept his reserve land until 1876, and was concerned that if his land was surveyed he would be "submitting to the domination of the whites."

      Pasqua supported Piapot and his desire for better Treaty Four terms, but his band was entirely dependent upon the rations provided by the government. Pasqua died of tuberculosis in 1889.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 674

    • Piapot (Payipwat)

      Piapot (Payipwat)

      Chief Piapot Piapot was a Cree/Assiniboine Chief, born around 1816 probably around present day eastern Saskatchewan. He was leader of the Young Dog band who in the eyes of the Canadian government were notorious raiders and horse thieves. Piapot's band hunted the Buffalo and they resented the incursion of the HBC and Canadian government upon their resource.

      When the Buffalo started to decline Piapot's band moved to the Cypress Hills, where he was hunting in 1874 during Treaty Four negotiations. He met William Joseph Christie in 1875 and signed an adhesion to Treaty Four on the condition changes be made and an economic base provided for the Cree peoples. These requests were never fulfilled, and Piapot spent the rest of his life resisting government policies and protecting his traditions.

      Piapot died in 1902, just before the Department of Indian Affairs managed to depose him as Chief.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XIII, pp. 815-818

    • Waywaysacapo The Gambler

      Waywaysacapo The Gambler

      The Gambler The Gambler, a Saulteaux headman and chief, was the son of Peicheto, a trader and a sub chief of the Portage Band. The Gambler was also the grandson of a white man, John Tanner, who had been kidnapped by the Shawnee in Kentucky and then brought to Red River by his adopted Odawa mother, Netnokwa.

      The Gambler spoke for the Cree and Saulteaux gathered at Fort Qu’Appelle during the Treaty 4 negotiations in September of 1874. The Gambler told the Lieutenant Governor, Alexander Morris, that the Cree and Saulteaux would not negotiate the terms of the Treaty until their grievances concerning the Hudson’s Bay Company were dealt with. The Gambler, who was also mad that Morris did not shake the hand of one of the Metis at the meeting, was upset that the HBC was surveying portions of Saulteaux and Cree land for their forts without their consent.

      The Gambler, a headman at this time, did not agree to Treaty 4 at Qu’Appelle on September 15, 1874, but his chief, Waywaysecapow, adhered to Treaty 4 at Fort Ellice on September 21, 1874. The Gambler was also present at the negotiations of Treaty 6 at Fort Carlton in 1876.

      In 1881, the Gambler separated from Waywaysecapow’s band and had his own reserve surveyed for him at Silver Creek, on the east side of the Assiniboine River, nine miles from Fort Ellice. The Gambler and most of his followers however, left the reserve at Silver Creek and returned to Waywaysecapow’s reserve at Lizard Point because they felt the reserve at Silver Creek did not provide them with enough timber.

      Source: Indian Claims Commission. Gamblers First Nation Inquiry Treaty Land Entitlement. October 1998

  • Treaty 5
    • Alexander Morris

      Alexander Morris

      Alexander Morris  Alexander Morris was born in Perth, Upper Canada in 1826 and died in Toronto in 1889. Jean Friesen wrote that Morris was “born to privilege, privilege which he used to expand the fortunes of his family and his country.” His father was a politician and Morris studied Law in addition to taking degrees from McGill College in Montreal. In 1861, Mr. Morris entered political life as a Liberal-Conservative in Western Canada. Unfortunately, political life had its negative sides effects, due to his health concerns and financial constraints and in 1872, Mr Morris took an a appointment as a Judge in Manitoba. Morris was also Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Territories from 1872-1876.

      Alexander Morris was the main Treaty Commissioner for the Treaties signed in Saskatchewan. He was commissioner for Treaties 3, 4, 5 and 6 and helped negotiate Treaties 1 and 2.

      As Lieutenant-Governor, Morris was in charge of Indian Affairs and responsible for singing Treaties to open areas for settlement. Morris argued that Treaties should be signed before settlement took place and further argued for annuities along with education and assistance in farming. He focus on education to “train the new generation in the arts of civilization” and also emphasized assimilation and his need to “advance” the First Nations as part of his Christian duty.

      Morris’ work as Treaty Commissioner was viewed as successful, however his inability to preserve lands for the Metis, due to speculation of Metis Scrip was a considerable weakness. Morris was also interested in Metis lands and when he ran for parliament in 1878 he was criticized for accumulating land in Manitoba at the expense of the Metis, and lost the election by 10 votes. Morris was later elected to parliament but had to resign because of poor health and died in 1889 at the age of 63.

    • Henry Cochrane

      Henry Cochrane

      Henry Cochrane was a Cree schoolmaster, interpreter, and along with Henry Budd and James Settee was one of the first "Indian Clergy" in Western Canada. He lived most of his life in present day Northern Manitoba and taught at various missions schools in the province.

      Cochrane was also an interpreter for Treaty Five, and the esteem in which he was held "made his word critical in securing the adhesions." He believed in the importance of a church education for the future of Native peoples, but also felt the hampered by the lack of books and paper provided by the churches, and the Department of Indian Affairs. Cochrane died in 1898.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XII, pp. 200

    • Chief Jacob Berens

      Chief Jacob Berens

      Mr. Berens was a Ojibwa chief born between 1832 and 1835 in Berens River, Manitoba and son of Mahqwah (Maskwa, Bear) and Amo (Bee, Victoria) and married Mary McKay in 1862 and together had eight children and died in 1916 in Berens River.

      Jacob Berens belonged to the third generation of a family which had migrated from the region of Lake Superior in the second half of the 1700's. His grandfather was Ozaawashkogaad (Yellow Legs), a widely known religious leader. Both Jacob and his father Mahqwah conducted Midewiwin (Grand Medicine Society) and shaking tent ceremonies and were long remembered for their power and abilities.

      In 1875, Jacob Berens was a leader in negotiating Treaty # 5 with the Canadian government and its representatives Lieutenant Governor Alexander Morris and James McKay due to the developments of the steamships on Lake Winnipeg and the influx of Icelandic settlers on the western shores of the lake. The election of Jacob Berens as the first treaty chief over a large area reaching up the river to Little Grand Rapids, Manitoba and Pikangikum, Ontario and later these communities acquired their own chiefs and band status.

      Beren’s people faced other profound changes during his four decades as chief which saw sustained commercial fishing beginning on Lake Winnipeg in 1883 and the following year Indian agent at Berens River, Angus McKay reported that the band was concerned about the encroachment of their whitefish and sturgeon fisheries. In 1899, more than two million pounds of whitefish was taken from the lake and these numbers peaked at seven and a half million pounds in 1904. Many native people, including Jacob’s son William, valued the new jobs offered by the commercial fishermen but the harm done to subsistence fishing brought strong complaints from the native communities around the lake.

  • Treaty 6
    • Peter Erasmus

      Peter Erasmus

      Peter Erasmus Peter Erasmus was a Metis traveller, guide, buffalo hunter, translator, farmer, Indian Agent, and mission worker. He was born in 1833, and died in 1931. Erasmus was instrumental as the translator at the Treaty Six negotiations, and witnessed the change from buffalo hunting, to settlements and Reserves. At the age of 87, Erasmus told his life story to Henry Thompson (also a Metis person, and a journalist at the time) who wrote it down. The manuscript found its way to the Glenbow Museum and Archives and was published as Buffalo Days and Nights in 1976.

      Erasmus' Buffalo Days and Nights contains one of the few documentations of Treaty negotiations with his reminiscences of Treaty Six. Erasmus highlighted the authority of Mistawasis and Atahkakoop as Treaty Six Chiefs, and the resistance to treaty by Poundmaker and The Badger. Erasmus also revealed that he was in favor of treaty and the transition to farming, and was very critical of the Hudson's Bay Company.

      Source: Buffalo Days and Nights: Peter Erasmus, Edited by Irene Spry

    • Reverend John McDougall

      Reverend John McDougall

      Rev. John McDougall John McDougall was a pioneer methodist missionary in the present day provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. He arrived the area in 1862, the eldest son of the Reverend and Mrs. McDougall. John's father George was also a pioneer Methodist missionary, but passed away unexpectedly in the late winter of 1876.

      John McDougall's connection to the Saskatchewan treaties was as a witness to the Treaty Six negotiations at Fort Pitt in 1876. These recollections are included in his Opening The Great West published by the Glenbow-Alberta Institute. John McDougall's father was charged by the Canadian government to announce treaty plans to the Aboriginal peoples in Saskatchewan and Alberta. According to McDougall the treaty became necessary after:

      “The government had sent out some surveyors and telegraph stringers up into the Saskatchewan country. One day they were met with a bunch of Indians who demanded to know their business. Under the circumstances these white men could not give a sufficient reason for their presence and purpose. So it is said one of the Indians turning the animal pulling the lead cart around and started him eastward and said to the whitemen, ‘Go’, and they went.”

    • Mosomin


      Mosomin Mosomin was a Cree/Sauteaux Chief that signed Treaty Six in 1879, after their previous Chief, Yellow Sky refused to sign at Fort Pitt in 1876. In June of 1884 Mosomin and his followers attended the thirst dance at Poundmaker's reserve to discuss treaty grievances, but they did not take part in the rebellion of 1885.

      During the rebellion Mosomin and his followers left their reserve to hunt for food, and avoided hostilities until they reached Battleford and attempted to visit the town for supplies. However, some non Native inhabitants of Battleford feared a siege and took refuge within the North West Mounted Police Fort. At one point when Mosomin arrived at the fort ("To keep up a communication") he was mistakenly fired upon. After this incident he wore the British flag, "to show that he and his had no sympathy with the followers of Louis Riel."

      Mosomin and his followers excelled at agriculture, keeping a surplus and at one point buying one hundred sheep. However, after the 1890s government policies restricted Native peoples farming efforts to ensure that they did not compete with non Native farmers.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XIII, pp. 721-722

    • Papewes or Papaway (Lucky Man)

      Papewes or Papaway (Lucky Man)

      Papewes, or Lucky Man, was a headman in Big Bear's band in the 1870s in what is now Saskatchewan. When Big Bear refused to sign Treaty Six, Lucky Man was forced to take Treaty for food. He signed Treaty Six in 1879 and had as many as 872 followers in 1882. However, Lucky Man did not abandon Big Bear's leadership, staying with him in the Cypress Hills until 1883 when they both went north to Battleford.

      After Big Bear took Treaty in 1882, Lucky Man's followers dropped. In 1885 there were only 80, and it soon became obvious that Lucky Man's band was just a convenient means for Big Bear's followers to receive assistance.

      During the hostilities of 1885 ucky Man supported Big Bear and after the arrest of Little Poplar and Wandering Spirit Lucky Man fled to the United States. Though he did not partake in any killing, he was not granted amnesty by the government. Lucky Man did return to Canada is 1896, but was accused of killing George McIvor, a recent immigrant to Canada. Lucky Man was not convicted of the crime, and upon his release he returned to the United States where he died in 1901.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XIII, p. 807

    • Kamayistowesit (Beardy)

      Kamayistowesit (Beardy)

      Beardy was born around 1828, and was chief of the Willow band of Plains Cree. Known as a strong spiritual person Beardy welcomed news of the Treaty Six commissioners, but was angry when they ignored his request to meet at Duck Lake. Beardy had a vision as to where the Treaty council should take place, but Alexander Morris and the Treaty commissioners had committed the negotiations to Fort Carlton.

      Morris traveled to Duck Lake after the Carlton negotiations and offered Beardy the same Treaty terms. Beardy felt the terms were inadequate He eregarding assistance in times of famine, and he wanted protection for the remaining buffalo, but he also realized his people had few other options. Beardy signed the Treaty and spend the next ten years fighting the Canadian government for implementation on the Treaty promises. xpressed his dissatisfaction with the Canadian government by hosting a meeting of Plains Cree chiefs in 1884 to organize opposition to the Treaty. The opposition suffered greatly by the rebellion of 1885. When a number of Beardy's warriors fought alongside the Metis, his band was suspended from Treaty. Beardy died in April of 1889.

      Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 458-459

    • Kapapamachchakwew (Wandering Spirit)

      Kapapamachchakwew (Wandering Spirit)

      Born in 1845 around Jackfish Lake, Kapapamahchakwew (Wandering Spirit) was the war chief of Mistahimaskwa's (Big Bear) band and a feared Plains Cree warrior.

      Wandering Spirit was very bitter at the change in his people's way of life, especially in regards to the loss of the buffalo, and he dreamed of one day riding the plains again as his people always had. Big Bear and Wandering Spirit refused to sign Treaty 6, as they tried to gain assurances from the government that the buffalo and their way of life would be protected. Finally, with their people dying of starvation, what was remaining of Big Bear's band adhered to Treaty 6 in December of 1882.

      Wandering Spirit was resentful towards the Canadian government for what he saw as their repressive policies towards First Nations people. Wandering Spirit had wintered with Big Bear at Frog Lake in 1884-85 and he had become increasingly frustrated with the Indian Agent Thomas Quinn and his policy of 'no work, no ration.'

      The frustration became too much for Wandering Spirit and during the 1885 North-West Resistance, Wandering Spirit, against Big Bear's wishes, along with some of Big Bear's followers attacked Frog Lake, where Wandering Spirit killed Indian Agent Quinn, and then later captured Fort Pitt. Wandering Spirit engaged the Canadian militia again at Frenchmen's Butte on May 28, 1885 and then fled to Loon Lake. Wandering Spirit surrendered to the Canadian government in July of 1885 at Fort Pitt and he was later convicted of killing Quinn, the Indian Agent at Frog Lake.

      Wandering Spirit was executed on November 27 1885, along with 7 other Cree, but not before he sang a love song to his wife in the last moments before he was hung.

      Sources - Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 459-460.

    • Kapeyakwaskonam (One Arrow)

      Kapeyakwaskonam (One Arrow)

      Born in 1815 in the valley of the Saskatchewan River, Kapeyakwaskonam (One Arrow) was the chief of a band of Willow Crees. One Arrow's band hunted buffalo in an area surrounding the South Saskatchewan River from Duck Lake to Little Manitou Lake to Goose Lake.

      One Arrow and the other Willow Cree chiefs, including Beardy, did not attend the Treaty 6 negotiations at Fort Carlton in 1876. Instead, Alexander Morris, at the request of the Willow Cree, came to see them at a site halfway between Duck Lake and Fort Carlton after the original negotiations had wrapped up. The Willow Cree attempted to gain more agricultural concessions than had been promised at Fort Carlton during their meeting with Morris, but he refused. One Arrow, along with Beardy and Cutnose, agreed to Treaty 6 on August 28, 1876. In 1881, One Arrow's band had their reserve surveyed near the Metis settlement of Batoche, 4 miles east of the South Saskatchewan River.

      One Arrow attended a Cree Council on Beardy's Reserve in 1884, along with Lucky Man, Big Bear and Ahtakahkoop. At this council, the Cree compiled a list of grievances against the government, including the fact that One Arrow's band had not received the majority of the livestock or agricultural implements promised to them under Treaty.

      One Arrow's band was involved in the 1885 North-West Resistance, most likely because of its close proximity to the Metis community at Batoche. There is much debate over the extent of One Arrow's involvement in the conflict and whether or not his people were forced into battle with the Metis. One Arrow was arrested by the government and tried for treason at Regina on August 13, 1885. One Arrow was sentenced to serve 3 years in Stony Mountain Penitentiary, but he was released after 7 months due to his deteriorating health. One Arrow died on April 25, 1886, with the dying wish that his people no longer be mistreated.

      Sources - Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 461-462.

    • Minahikosis (Little Pine)

      Minahikosis (Little Pine)

      Minahikosis (Little Pine) was born around 1830 in the Fort Pitt region of present day Saskatchewan to a Blackfoot mother and a Plains Cree father. Little Pine rose to prominence as a warrior in the 1860s in battles with the Blackfoot, the enemies of the Plains Cree. Little Pine led Cree forces in one final battle against the Blackfoot in 1870, in the Battle of Belly River near Lethbridge. By the end of the 1860s, Little Pine was the chief of his own band, which numbered around 300 people.

      Little Pine did not attend the Treaty 6 negotiations at Fort Carlton. Little Pine, along with Big Bear, felt that the Treaties did not do enough to protect the Cree from Canadian laws. As well, Little Pine wanted protection for his people's way of life, especially the protection of the buffalo. Little Pine finally adhered to Treaty 6 on July 2, 1879 at Fort Walsh, as his people were starving and needed rations from the government in order to survive.

      Even after Little Pine took Treaty, his people continued to roam the prairies in search of buffalo, namely in the Cypress Hills. The rest of Little Pine's life would be dedicated to trying to create a unified Cree territory in South-West Saskatchewan. Little Pine even managed to bring the Blackfoot, the Cree's traditional enemies, into an alliance with the Cree so that the two groups could present a united front to the government in their attempts to get their Treaty grievances met. Little Pine's efforts were met with success when in the Fall of 1884, Little Pine returned with 5 horses from a meeting with the Blackfoot chief Crowfoot and the chief's pledge that they would attend a council with the Cree in the summer of 1885.

      Little Pine never saw his hard work and determination come to fruition, as he died on March 26, 1885 on Poundmaker's reservation, the same day as the battle of Duck Lake between the Metis and the Canadian Militia. The Cree would never see their dream of a unified territory come to pass as the North-West Resistance and its aftermath brought an end to the Cree's attempts to get their Treaty grievances met.

      Sources - Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 596-597.

    • Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear)

      Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear)

      Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear) was born near Jackfish Lake around 1825. Big Bear was a famed and well respected leader of a group of Plains Cree that camped near Fort Pitt and he rose to prominence over his attempts to get Cree grievances over the Treaties met.

      In 1875, when the Rev. George McDougall came to inform the Cree that the federal government wanted to talk with them about Treaties, Big Bear refused the presents McDougall offered him stating that they would not accept the governments trap - Big Bear wanted face-to-face meetings with government representatives. When the Indian Commissioner Alexander Morris came to Fort Pitt to negotiate Treaty 6, Big Bear did not arrive until September 13; one day after the Treaty was negotiated. Big Bear wanted assurances from the government that they would enact legislation to protect the buffalo and that the Cree would not be susceptible to Canadian law. Big Bear was not satisfied with what Morris offered him and as a result he did not take Treaty in 1876. Big Bear continued to follow and hunt the buffalo, until it stopped migrating north to Canada in the winter of 1878-79.

      The remainder of Big Bear's life was dedicated to unifying the Cree's voice and their reserves so that the government would have no choice but to alter the Treaties and give the First Nations better terms. Big Bear refused Treaty until 1882 and as a result, he lost many of his followers who went to camp with other chiefs, such as Little Pine and Thunderchild, who had taken Treaty when headmen of Big Bear's Band. Finally, with his people starving and the buffalo gone from the prairies, Big Bear adhered to Treaty 6 at Fort Walsh on December 8, 1882.

      Big Bear was essential in the planning of a Cree and Blackfoot council that was to be held in 1885 at the Blackfoot Crossing. This meeting was planned by Big Bear, Little Pine and Crowfoot to address First Nations grievances to the Treaties and how they were being implemented. This meeting never came to fruition however, as the North-West Resistance of 1885 broke out before the meeting was to take place. During the 1885 Resistance, Wandering Spirit, Big Bear's war chief, led attacks on white settlers at Frog Lake and Fort Pitt. Even though Big Bear had spoken out against these attacks, he was still considered a rebel by the Canadian government and as a result he gave himself up to Canadian forces on July 2, 1885 at Fort Carlton.

      Big Bear was convicted of treason and was sentenced to three years at Stoney Mountain Penitentiary. On March 4, 1887, Big Bear was released from prison and he moved to Poundmaker's reserve, where he died on January 17, 1888.

      Sources - Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 597-600.

    • Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker)

      Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker)

      Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker) was born in 1842 in present day central Saskatchewan to a Stoney father, Sikakwayen (Skunk Skin) and a mother of mixed blood ancestry. Poundmaker’s Uncle was Mistawasis (Big Child), a leading Plains Cree chief in the Eagle Hill, Alberta area.

      In 1873, Poundmaker was adopted by the Blackfoot chief Crowfoot because he reminded Crowfoot’s wife of one of their dead sons. Poundmaker went to live with Crowfoot and he was given the name Mayoki-yoh-kin (Wolf Thin Legs).

      Poundmaker attended the Treaty 6 negotiations at Fort Carlton as a minor chief of Pihew-kamihkosit (Red Pheasant). At the negotiations, Poundmaker was elected to talk on behalf of some of the younger Cree chiefs who disagreed with the terms of the Treaty. Poundmaker claimed the Treaty did not provide for future generations, nor did it provide the Cree with enough assistance by which to learn how to farm. As a result of Poundmaker’s request, Alexander Morris, the Treaty Commissioner, agreed to give the Cree more farming implements, agricultural supplies and he also put in a disaster relief clause.

      Poundmaker signed Treaty 6 on August 23, 1876 and he settled on a reserve in 1879 where the Battle River and Cut Knife Creek join, some 40 miles west of Battleford. In 1881, Poundmaker was chosen to accompany the Marquess of Lorne during his trip of the western prairies. The two developed a deep respect for each other and Poundmaker was so impressed by Lorne, that he urged his people to keep the peace with the European settlers.

      In 1884, Poundmaker hosted a council at his reserve that included Big Bear, Little Pine and others. Despite the NWMP’s efforts to halt the council and the thirst dance that followed, the event went on. At one point, John Craig, Little Pine’s Farm Instructor, was attacked by two of Lucky Man’s sons after he refused to give one of them rations. The NWMP attempted to arrest the two men during the thirst dance, but a crisis was averted thanks to the efforts of Poundmaker and others.

      During the 1885 North-West Resistance, Poundmaker led his people to Battleford to try and obtain rations, but some of his men plundered the village. The Canadian militia would attack Poundmaker’s camp in response to the incident at Battleford, but they were soundly defeated at Cut Knife Hill, which was adjacent to Poundmaker’s Reserve. Poundmaker saved many militia members from dying during the Battle at Cut Knife Hill as he stopped some of his warriors from chasing after the fleeing and defeated militia men. On May 26, Poundmaker, who was now seen as a rebel by the Federal government, surrendered and he was later sentenced to thee years in prison at Stoney Mountain Penitentiary. Poundmaker became sick however and was released after serving one year. Poundmaker died four months later, while visiting his adopted father Crowfoot on the Blackfoot reserve.

      Sources - Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Volume XI, pp. 695-697.

    • Mistawasis (Big Child)

      Mistawasis (Big Child)

      Mistawasis (Big Child) was born around 1813 and was a life long friend of Ahtahkahkoop (Star Blanket). Mistawasis was one of the chiefs of the Fort People, a group of Cree that lived around Fort Carlton and his people eventually settled at Snake Plain.

      In his early years, Mistawasis supplied the Hudson Bay Company traders with buffalo for pemmican. Mistawasis was also a strong opponent of the alcohol that was being traded amongst the Cree in the 1860s and 1870s. Mistawasis' son was stabbed during a drinking binge and as a result, he sent a letter to the federal government asking them to ban the sale of alcohol in the North-West Territories. Mistawasis' petition, along with many others the government received from the North-West, convinced the federal government to create the North West Mounted Police and send them west to eradicate the whisky trade.

      In the summer of 1875, Mistawasis and Ahtahkahkoop sent a group of telegraphers back east stating that they needed permission to be on Cree land. As a result of this incident, the government decided to negotiate Treaty 6 with the Cree of modern day central Saskatchewan.

      Mistawasis was one of the most influential Cree chiefs in the Fort Carlton area and he used his position to speak out in favor of negotiating Treaty 6 when the Treaty Commissioner arrived in 1876. Mistawasis believed that the Queen would protect his people, so he agreed to Treaty 6 on August 23, 1876. Even though Mistawasis believed in the Treaty, he still participated in a Cree council that was held at Duck Lake in 1884 to draw up a petition of Cree grievances in relation to the Treaty.

      In 1886, Mistawasis, along with Ahtahkahkoop, was invited to Ottawa in order to meet Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, as well as to participate in the unveiling of a monument that honored the great Mohawk chief Joseph Brant. Mistawasis died in August of 1896.

      Sources - Deanna Christensen. Ahtahkahkoop: The Epic Account of a Plains Cree Head Chief, His People and Their Struggle for Survival, 1816-1896. Shell Lake: Ahtahkahkoop Publishing, 2000.

    • Ahtakahkoop (Star Blanket)

      Ahtakahkoop (Star Blanket)

      Ahtahkahkoop (Star Blanket) was born around 1815-16 and was an influential Cree chief in the Fort Carlton area. In his early days, Ahtahkahkoop provided buffalo meat to the Hudson Bay Company traders at Fort Carlton and he also worked on York boats, taking supplies and furs to York Factory.

      Ahtahkahkoop and his people settled at Sandy Lake, where they began to farm in 1875. In the summer of 1875, Ahtahkahkoop and Mistawasis sent a group of telegraphers back east stating that they needed permission to be on Cree land. As a result of this incident, the government decided to negotiate with the Cree of modern day Saskatchewan.

      When the Treaty 6 negotiations took place at Fort Carlton, Ahtahkahkoop was one of the strongest proponents of the Treaty, as long as the Treaty provided assurances that the Cree would be able to make a living. Ahtahkahkoop believed that the Treaties would provide his children with the necessary tools by which to make the transition from buffalo hunting to a sedentary, farming life. Ahtahkahkoop agreed to Treaty 6 on August 23, 1876. Even though Ahtahkahkoop believed in the Treaties, he still participated in a Cree council that was held at Duck Lake in 1884 to draw up a petition of Cree grievances in relation to the Treaty.

      In 1886, Ahtahkahkoop, along with Mistawasis, was invited to Ottawa in order to meet Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, as well as to participate in the unveiling of a monument that honored the great Mohawk chief Joseph Brant. Ahtahkahkoop died on December 4, 1896.

      Sources - Deanna Christensen. Ahtahkahkoop: The Epic Account of a Plains Cree Head Chief, His People and Their Struggle for Survival, 1816-1896. Shell Lake: Ahtahkahkoop Publishing, 2000.

  • Treaty 8
    • Father A. Lacombe

      Father A. Lacombe

      In 1865, Father Lacombe, an Oblate missionary was visiting a Blackfoot camp when it was attacked by Crees tried get between the lines to call truce and was not recognized by the Crees and subsequently wounded by a ricocheting bullet. In 1866, he prevented a number of Blackfoot warriors from looting a train of Hudson’s Bay Company carts and killing its Metis drivers. He then defied a number of warrior chiefs and provided a safe escort for the Metis back to Fort Edmonton. Father Lacombe became a good friend of HBC trader Richard Charles Hardisty who was in charge of Rocky Mountain House.

    • Clifford Sifton

      Clifford Sifton

      Mr. Sifton was born in 1861 in London, Ontario and moved to Manitoba with his parents in 1875.

      In 1882 he was admitted to the Manitoba bar, and later entered politics as a Liberal Member of the Legislative Assembly in 1888. In 1891 he becomes the Attorney General and Minister of Education in the provincial government of Thomas Glenway. From 1896 to 1905, Mr. Soften was the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs and the Federal Minister of the Interior and in charge of immigration during an era that basically saw Canada vast western plains occupied and settled. He steered the country into a vigorous immigration policy designed to move people to the west by convincing them of the economic potential and prosperity of Canada to the settlers. Sifton wanted to build “a nation of good farmers.” He felt that the west already had an oversupply of urban workers, and that to encourage the immigration of more city dwellers would only amplify the problems of urban poverty and unemployment and swell the slums of regional centers like Winnipeg. He instructed his agents to discourage immigration of Italians, Blacks, Jews, Orientals and urban Englishmen who would not, he believed, succeed as farmers. Immigration agents sought candidates who were more likely to endure hardships and remain on the farm, this period saw a large influx of Eastern Europeans, including Ukrainians, Doukhobors and other groups from the Austrian and Russian Empires.

      In 1905, Mr Sifton resigned from Federal cabinet over the terms of entry of Alberta and Saskatchewan in Confederation and in 1911, Sifton and other prominent western politicians joined Laurier over the negotiation of a reciprocity treaty with the United States which would have made Canada increasingly a part of the United States. Although, Sifton left electoral politics in 1911 and remained an influential figure in Canadian politics. In 1891, he purchased the Manitoba Free Press which he owed until his death in 1921. The Free Press was one of the most influential newspapers in Canada that ensured western Canada’s views were heard in Liberal circles across the country.

    • David Laird

      David Laird

      Mr. Laird was born on March 12, 1833 at New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island and son of The Honourable Alexander Laird who served on Prince Edward Island’s Executive Council.

      The Honourable David Laird was the first resident Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories after it was established as a separate administrative area by the Northwest Territories Act of 1876. In 1977, Mr Laird negotiated treaty 7 with the Blackfoot nation located in Southern Alberta.

      In 1864, Mr. Laird founded and was editor and publisher of the Charlottetown Patriot. David originally opposed Canadian confederation and in 1873 was sent to Ottawa to negotiate the admission of Prince Edward Island into the new Dominion. Mr. Laird sat on the Charlottetown City Council, its Board of Education and Board of Works and was Governor of the Prince of Wales College. In 1871 to 1873, Mr. Laird represented the electoral district of Belfast in the Prince Edward Island Legislative Assembly and Queen’s County in the Canadian federal House of Commons from 1873 to 1876. From 1873 to 1876, Mr Laird was appointed Minister of the Interior by Prime Minister Alexander McKenzie. During the summer of 1874, David negotiated with the Qu’Appelle Lakes Treaty with Indians of this region and the importance of treaty negotiations to the construction of the Dominion Telegraph and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

      In 1876, David Laird was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories made by Earl of Dufferin, Governor General of Canada. In 1879, he and his Council moved to the new territorial capital of Battleford and he served as Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories until 1881.

      From 1881 to 1898, Mr Laird served as editor of the Charlottetown Patriot and in 1898, he was appointed Indian Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Keewatin, a position he held until his death. In 1899, David Laird negotiated Treaty 8 with the Indian poluation of the vast District of Athabasca located north of Edmonton. After 1909, he served as an adviser to the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa.

    • James Andrew Joseph McKenna

      James Andrew Joseph McKenna

      In 1887, he was assigned to the Department of Indian Affairs and became private secretary to the Superintendent General Sir John A. McDonald an in 1888, Mr McKenna was promoted to second class clerk and at the same time, he studied law and became an expertise in legal matters that assisted him professionally on a number of key assignments in the years to follow.

      In 1897, the new Superintendent General, Clifford Sifton selected McKenna as his private secretary for work connected with the department. Mr McKenna along with Thomas Gainsford Rothwell was sent out to work out a settlement with the British Columbia government regarding the administration of the Railway Belt and the Peace River Block. These land were conveyed to the Ottawa by the province to assist with the construction of the transcontinental railway. At which time, Mr. McKenna was promoted to a first-class clerk from a second-class clerk during the following year.

      In 1899, Mr. McKenna was chosen to join the Indian Commissioner David Laird and James Hamilton Ross of the North-West Territorial government to negotiate Treaty 8 with the Indians in the District of Athabasca and northeastern corner of British Columbia that was being disturbed by gold miners en route to the Klondike. The term of treaty were similar to those in earlier treaties except on McKenna’s initiative that the option of taking land in severalty rather than in reserves was provided. Mr. McKenna also proposed that Indians should be given a lump sum in lieu of annuities but was rejected by Sifton. Treaty 8 was successfully negotiated over the summer with visits to Fort St. John, B.C., Fort Dunvegan, AB, Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray to secure adhesion to treaty by the various bands.

      During the Treaty 8 negotiations, a separate group of commissioners worked in conjunction with the Treaty 8 commissioners to deal with land claims made by mixed-blood population of this region. In 1900, Mr. McKenna and Major James Walker were appointed the two new commissioners to deal with the large number of claims that were not satisfied during the treaty 8 negotiations. In 1901 to 1904, McKenna was appointed sole commissioner to dispose of the remaining land claims made by mixed-bloods.

      Mr McKenna was recommended by Sifton to replace the aging Laird and required to stay permanently in the west to carry out some Laird’s duties. In 1901, Mr McKenna was promoted to assistant Indian commissioner and the Chief Inspector of agencies for Manitoba and the North West Territories with the head office located in Winnipeg.

      Mr McKenna was a staunch champion of his department’s repressive policies, supporting residential schooling and the harsh measures taken against traditional dances and Indian appearances at exhibitions.

    • Maurice Piche (Chief Moberley)

      Maurice Piche (Chief Moberley)

      Maurice Piche (Chief Moberley), a great caribou hunter, was the chief of the Dene at Fond du Lac who agreed to Treaty 8 in July of 1899.

      When the negotiations started for Treaty 8, Piche almost got into a fight with the translator Louis Robillard because when Robillard had explained the terms of the Treaty to Piche, he became upset over what he had heard. Piche threatened to lead his people to their sacred caribou hunting grounds rather than negotiate the Treaty because he felt that what he was being offered was not fair, considering what his people were giving up. The Treaty Commissioner David Liard was frustrated by the incident between Piche and Robillard and believed that it meant that a Treaty would not be signed in Fond du Lac.

      First off, Piche believed that the annuities were “bait set in a trap.” As well, Piche wanted to ensure that his people were not treated like the First Nations of the southern plains had been and be placed on reserves. Piche knew that his people could not farm in the North and therefore they needed their freedom to continue to hunt and trap like they had since time immemorial.

      The Dene at Fond du Lac would eventually sign Treaty 8 on July 25, 1899, but Piche would not agree to its terms until July 27, 1899.

      Sources – Rene Fumoleau. As Long as this Land Shall Last: A History of Treaty 8 and Treaty 11, 1870-1939. Toronto: McClleland and Stewart.

  • Treaty 10
    • William Apsis (Chief of English River Band)

      William Apsis (Chief of English River Band)

      Williams Apsis was the chief of the English River Band who agreed to Treaty 10 on August 28, 1906. The Treaty Commissioner JAJ McKenna met with Chief Apsis and his band at Ile a la Crosse in 1906. The original meeting was supposed to be at Portage La Loche at a later date but Chief Apsis and his people did not want to be held up in negotiations because hunting season was upon them.

      When negotiations began, Chief Apsis made it clear to McKenna that he wanted assurances that his people's traditional hunting and gathering practices would not be interfered with by the government. McKenna told Chief Apsis that they would not, at any time, prevent his people from hunting or fishing. Chief Apsis also asked McKenna for a doctor to live full time with his band, a request McKenna denied, and some food and clothing for the elderly members of his band. Chief Apsis also asked that the government not interfere with the education his people were receiving from the missionaries in the area. As well, Chief Apsis made the unusual request of asking for his people to be paid annuities in arrear, from the first time the Treaties were signed in Western Canada. McKenna denied Chief Apsis' request.

      When Chief Apsis met with Thomas Borthwick, who took over from McKenna as Indian Commissioner, in 1907, he claimed that the government was using the Treaty he signed, as well as other pieces of legislation, to prevent his people from hunting and trapping. Chief Apsis asked Borthwick again in 1908, to ensure that his people's way of life would not be interfered upon. Both times, Borthwick assured Chief Apsis that the government would not interfere in any way with their hunting and fishing rights.

      Sources: Anthony Gulig. "Yesterday's Promises: The Negotiations of Treaty Ten." In Saskatchewan History 50 (1). Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Archives Board, 1998.

    • John Iron (Chief of Canoe Lake Band)

      John Iron (Chief of Canoe Lake Band)

      John Iron was the Chief of the Canoe Lake Band who agreed to Treaty 10 on September 19, 1906.

      When the Indian Commissioner Thomas Borthwick met with Chief Iron and his band in 1907 at Buffalo Narrows to give them their Treaty annuities, Chief Iron told Borthwick that he felt that JAJ McKenna, the Indian Commissioner who had negotiated the Treaty with the Canoe Lake people, had not given him enough time to present his views on the Treaty. McKenna did not believe this was true and as a result, 'no credence was given to the statement.' As well, Chief Iron wanted to know why they were given less supplies and provisions than McKenna had given them the year before.

      Chief Iron used the rest of his meeting with Borthwick to ask for seeds, farming implements, a school on their reserve, a horse sled and some assistance for the 7 elderly people in his band.

      Sources: Anthony Gulig. "Yesterday's Promises: The Negotiations of Treaty Ten." In Saskatchewan History 50 (1). Saskatoon: Saskatchewan Archives Board, 1998.