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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Treaty 7: Past and Present

Nakoda girl

It was September in 1877 when representatives of the Dominion of Canada and the British Crown gathered with the First Nations peoples who lived on the plains lands in an area now known as southern Alberta. There were five First Nations tribes present, three of which, the Siksika (Blackfoot), the Kainai (Blood), the Piikani (Peigan), were part of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the dominant First Nations group in the region. One of the remaining two tribes, the Tsuu T’ina (Sarcee) was a close ally of the Blackfoot peoples, while the other, the Nakoda (Stoney), was a traditional enemy of the Blackfoot.

The First Nations peoples and the government officials had gathered at a place deep in Siksika territory known as Blackfoot Crossing. They had all come to talk terms, and to make a treaty with one another. For the leaders of the Plains First Nations, the treaty to be discussed was a peace treaty, a means of working out the sharing of their traditional lands with European settlers who were setting up homesteads there. For the government, the treaty was one more in a number of treaties brokered with First Nations people across the Northwest Territories. This treaty, like all the ones that preceded it, demanded nothing less than the complete surrender of First Nations lands to the British Crown. It was the seventh in this series of numbered treaties: Treaty 7.

Treaty 7 was, and still is, an important document in the histories of Canada, Alberta, and the First Nations peoples who had known these lands long before the first Europeans set foot upon the soil. In this website, the history and impact of Treaty 7 is explored in the following sections:

Traditional Life: This section explores the lives of the Treaty 7 First Nations from the time before the signing of the treaty, as well as the changes that came to these First Nations from 1877 to the present day.

The Making of Treaty 7: This section examines the factors that contributed to the making of Treaty 7 in 1877, chronicles the events surrounding the actual treaty negotiations, and explores the perspectives of government and First Nations in the years following the treaty signing.

Contemporary Life: This section offers a view of First Nations life following the making of Treaty 7 in 1877, and explores issues that still resonate in Treaty 7 First Nations communities in the present day.

The Heritage Community Foundation is pleased to present this educational online production. Welcome to Treaty 7: Past and Present.

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            For more on the making of Treaty 7, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.
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