About this site - Glossary
Welcome to the Treaty 7: Past and Present glossary page. Here you will find terms that are used throughout the website. Wherever it was appropriate and possible to do so, the terms included in this glossary were defined in regards to their relationship with Treaty 7 or the treaty making process.
The land boundaries defined by Treaty 7 are confined to the existing border territories in what is now the southern part of the province of Alberta. In 1877, Alberta did not yet exist as a province, so the lands negotiated for in Treaty 7 were located in an area that was at the time a part of the Northwest Territories. Along with Saskatchewan, Alberta joined the Canadian Confederation as a province in 1905, and the southern, southeastern, and southwestern borders of the province helped define the current Treaty 7 boundaries.
American Fur Company
The American Fur Company was a fur trading company established in 1808 by American merchant John Jacob Astor. Astor’s ambition was to challenge the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company, both of which were the dominant forces in the North American fur trade at the time. Through its practice of buying out smaller rival companies, and also due to American laws that drove out foreign merchants on American territories, the American Fur Company gained a monopoly in the United States fur trade, establishing forts and dominating trade in the American Great Lakes region, the Missouri River region, and the Rocky Mountain region. After amassing a fortune in the fur trading business, Astor sold the American Fur Company in 1834 to a merchant named Ramsey Crooks. The American Fur Company ceased trading altogether in 1847.
An Act for the Better Protection of the Lands and Property of Indians in Lower Canada (1850)
In 1850, with the passage of the Act for the Better Protection of the Lands and Property of the Indians in Lower Canada, the first definition of "Indian" was given, with this Indian status linked to band membership. This was done for the purpose of defining lands which could not be trespassed upon and so that no taxes could be imposed on Indian people living on reserve lands.
An Act for the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in the Canadas (1857)
The Act was passed in 1857. It applied to both Canadas (Lower and Upper) and was one of the most significant events in the development of Canadian Indian policy. Its principal was that by eventually removing all legal distinctions between Indians and non-Indians through the process of enfranchisement, it would be possible in time to absorb Indian people fully into colonial society.
An Act for the Gradual Enfranchisement of Indians and the Better Management of Indian Affairs (1869)
This statute introduced the concept of local government on the reserves. This sets a model for contemporary Aboriginal Self-Government since the form prescribed then remains unchanged.
An Act where the Better Protection of Indians in Upper Canada Imposition, the Property Occupied or Enjoyed by Them from Trespass and Injury (1850)
With this law being passed in 1850 (preceded by An Act for the Better Protection of the Lands and Property of Indians in Lower Canada) it allowed only the Indians to deal with their lands unless the Crown approved it. The Act exemplified Indians from taxation, judgment and seizure as well as prevented the sale of liquor to the Indians. In this timeframe, the Government’s main agenda was protection of the Indians and their lands from abuse only until they became ‘civilized and eventually assimilated.”
The Assiniboine are a First Nation that originally occupied territories now known as northeastern Montana, southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and southwestern Manitoba. It is believed that the Assiniboine people were once part of the larger Sioux nation, but broke away from the Sioux around the 17th century.
A nomadic plains people, the Assiniboine lived a lifestyle centred upon the bison hunt. They became close allies with the Cree, trading with the Cree for European made goods and aiding the Cree in their war against the peoples of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Linguistically, the Assiniboine are related to the Nakoda (Stoney) peoples, but the Nakoda language and the Assiniboine language have enough differences between them that they are considered distinct languages.
The Blackfeet Indian Reservation is located in what is now northwestern Montana, near the slopes of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. The original boundaries of this reservation were established during October 1855 in an agreement known as the Lame Bull Treaty, which was signed between the leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy tribes living south of the United States / Canada border and representatives of the United States government. It should be noted that Blackfeet is a uniquely American English term for the Blackfoot people, while Blackfoot enjoys use in Canada.
The Blackfoot Nation really consists of four distinct Blackfoot nations, who share a historical and cultural background but have separate leadership: the Siksika (which means Blackfoot), the Kainai (also called Bloods), the Piikani (Peigan), and the Blackfeet Nation (in the United States).
In this website, for the sake of both clarity and respect to Native preferences, the term “Blackfoot” will be used to embody the collective nations, while “Siksika” will be used to differentiate the smaller societies from the larger group. “The single term “Blackfoot” to describe all three was something of liberty taken by the fur traders who first came into contact with them in the mid -1700s” (The People pp 24).
The Blackfoot Indians of the United States and Canada were divided into four main groups: the Northern Blackfoot or Siksika, the Kainai or Blood, the Piikani or Piegan and the Blackfeet (in the United States). The Siksika, Kainai, and the Piikani spoke a dialect of the Algonquian language family. Before the Blackfoot were placed on reservations in the latter half of the nineteenth century, they occupied a large territory which stretched from the North Saskatchewan River in Canada to the Missouri River in Montana. The trade, military, and kinship alliance held between the Sikiska, Kainai, and Piikani was referred to as the Blackfoot Confederacy. Later, in the early 1800s, the Tsuu T’ina or Sarcee First Nation would join this alliance.
The site known as Blackfoot Crossing is located on the banks of the Bow River, about one-hundred kilometres (sixty miles) east of Calgary, Alberta. The Blackfoot Crossing area was of particular significance to the Siksika (Blackfoot) First Nation as a traditional wintering ground and gathering place. In 1877, Blackfoot Crossing, at the insistence of Siksika Chief Crowfoot, became the official gathering place for the Treaty 7 negotiations. The choice of this site was controversial among the Blackfoot peoples at the time. The leaders of the Kainai (Blood) and Piikani (Peigan) tribes preferred to meet at Fort Macleod, the original site chosen for the negotiations. Crowfoot, however, would not meet in the fort, and as Crowfoot was deemed by government officials as a First Nations leader whose influence was critical at the treaty negotiations, Blackfoot Crossing was chosen instead. After the signing of Treaty 7, Blackfoot Crossing became the heart of Siksika reserve lands. The present day Blackfoot Crossing site now includes a museum and interpretive centre detailing Siksika and Blackfoot history and culture.
The term “Blood” was used by English speakers to refer to the people of the Kainai First Nation. The term originally derives from the Cree reference to the Kainai as “red people” because of the ochre they spread on their clothes. This was later translated as “blood people” or “blood” (The People pp 25).(see Kainai)
British Columbia joined the Canadian Confederation as a province in 1871, and because of this, a vast unsettled space was created in British-controlled North America between British Columbia on the west coast and the Confederate provinces of the east. As a condition of British Columbia’s entry into Confederation, the Dominion government set a timeline of ten years to build a transcontinental railway from east to west. To do this, however, the lands occupied by First Nations peoples had to be acquired. This was one of the reasons for the creation of a series of numbered treaties with First Nations peoples. These treaties essentially prompted the First Nations peoples to give up their title to the land in exchange for various gifts and compensations, and opened up the vast Northwest Territories for railway development and homesteading.
Among the oldest of all Christian churches, the Roman Catholic Church and its beliefs came to North America and the First Nations peoples with explorers, traders, and settlers from France as early as the 1500s. From early on, Roman Catholic clergy included in their overall mission of ministering to French traders and settlers an effort to convert First Nations peoples living in North America to Christianity.
The Catholic Church had a presence in the land that would become Alberta as early as 1842, when Catholic Oblate missionary Father Jean-Baptiste Thibault established a mission in Fort Edmonton. Later, Thibault would establish a Catholic presence in Fort Pitt, which was the site of Treaty 6 negotiations between the Cree and the British Crown in 1876.
The First Nations of southern Alberta, in particular, the Blackfoot peoples, came into contact with Catholic missionaries starting around 1873. Father Constantine Scollen was one of the prominent missionaries who worked with the Kainai. He was also an important influence on the leaders of the southern First Nations, who advised First Nations leaders to strongly consider making a treaty with the British Crown. Scollen was among the advisors and witnesses present at the Treaty 7 negotiations in 1877. Later Catholic missionaries, like Father Emile Legal, also did a great deal of work among the First Nations peoples of the southern plains.
After Treaty 7 was signed in 1877, the Catholic church and other Christian churches established such institutions on First Nations reserves as residential schools. These schools, designed to assimilate First Nations peoples into European modes of thinking and acting, had a significant impact on the spiritual and social lives of generations of First Nations peoples.
Civilization and Enfranchisement Act (1859)
Essentially, this act is a clarification of the 1857 Act for the Gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in the Canadas. It helped to further define the legal conditions under which Native people could be assimilated into non-Native society.
Canada became a country in 1867; created by The British North America Act, a law enacted by the British Parliament. The Act federated the British colonies of northern North America into a country consisting of four provinces; New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, with two levels of government, federal and provincial. Responsibility for the welfare of Treaty Indians and the security of their lands was placed firmly in the hands of the federal government.
The Cree people of Canada built a nation that extended from the boreal forests of Quebec to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Two important facets of Cree life should be noted: the vast expanse of land that they have occupied historically to present and the various cultural subdivisions that have emerged through time. Over the years, the Crees, originally an Eastern Woodlands people (the James Bay Cree) have spread out; becoming, in turn, a Western Woodlands people (the Swampy Cree) a Parklands people (the Woods Cree), and a people with a Plains way of life (the Plains Cree). Cree is an Algonquian language comprised of five major dialects; Western/Plains Cree, Northern/Woodlands Cree, Central/Swampy Cree, Moose Cree, and Eastern Cree.
Cypress Hills Massacre (1873)
In June of 1873, a group of American wolfers (men who used poisons to kill wolves for their furs) and whiskey traders pursued a band of Assiniboines who had taken their horses. After crossing from the United States into British held territory, eventually making their way to the Cypress Hills region near Milk River in what is now southern Alberta, and also after a bout of heavy drinking at some whiskey forts, the wolfers came upon an Assiniboine camp led by Chief Little Soldier and, believing Little Soldier’s band to have been the culprits, opened fire on the camp. The wolfers then proceeded to move through the camp, slaughtering and mutilating men, women and children indiscriminately, and burning the camp to the ground. In all sixteen Assiniboines were killed, and scores of others wounded.
The Cypress Hills Massacre, as this event was later called, was the catalyst that led to the creation of the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1873, and to the dispatching of a force of NWMP west to bring an end to the whiskey trade in British controlled North America.
- Chicken Dance: Men wear traditional costume that consists of a porcupine hair roach and some feather bustles. The dance resembles the swift and dexterous movement of prairie chickens.
- Grass Dance: Men dance as a means to trample the grass before setting up camp. This form of dance originated in the eastern regions where plains grass grows tall.
- Women’s Jingle Dance: In this form of dance young women wear satin dresses adorned with jingles. It is believed that the chiming sounds made by the movement of the dancer have the power to heal the sick and suffering. Legend explains that the idea for this kind of dance came to a young woman during a vision
Department of the Secretary of State Act (1868)
The form of the modern Indian Act can be traced to this statute created in 1868. This Act appointed the Secretary of State which is the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, who had the power for the control and management of the lands and property of Indians in Canada. At this stage, importantly, there is no power of self-government given to the Indians.
Dominion of Canada
The Dominion of Canada was a commonly used term for Canada from the time of Confederation in 1867 to around the time of the Second World War. Dominion refers to the name given a state of the British Empire.
Fort Benton was a fur trading fort run by the American Fur Company. It was built between spring of 1846 and spring of 1847 on the north banks of the Missouri River in Montana, in the United States. Some of the Blackfoot people would trade buffalo hides at this fort. In 1865, the fort was sold by the American Fur Company to the American military. The military, in turn, occupied the fort before abandoning it in 1875.
Fort Macleod was the post established in October 1874 by the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) under the command of Assistant Commissioner James Farquarson Macleod. The fort was originally built on an island in the Old Man River about forty-eight kilometres (thirty miles) west of the notorious American whiskey trading post, Fort Whoop-Up. The original fort remained as an NWMP post until 1883, when Macleod received official permission to build a new post higher ground on the south banks of the Old Man River. This new post was completed in 1884, and was located about 3 miles west of the original post.
A fur trading Fort established sometime around 1831 by the American Fur Company close to Blackfoot territory in the United States.
Fort Pitt was a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading post established in 1829 on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. Fort Pitt played important roles in the fur trade, and was the location for the negotiation and signing of Treaty Six in 1876.
Fort Whoop-Up is formally known as Fort Hamilton. Fort Whoop-Up was first built in 1869 by J.J. Healy and A.B. Hamilton with the purpose of being a whiskey post. Its first structure was destroyed by fire within a year of its construction. A second, sturdier structure later replaced Fort Whoop-Up. One type of alcohol sold by the Whoop-Up bandits was known as Whoop-Up Bug Juice. Most notably, the outlaws of Fort Whoop-Up and surrounding areas directly contributed to the formation of the North-West Mounted Police. Once it was formed, the North-West Mounted Police helped drive-out Whoop-Up whiskey traders.
Glenmore Negotiations of 1931
Negotiations in which the Tsuu T’ina (Sarcee) First Nation surrendered and sold 593 acres of reserve land to the City of Calgary to allow for development of the Glenmore Reservoir, which currently furnishes the City of Calgary with over half of that city’s water supply.
Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC)
The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was a fur trading company established by British Royal Charter in 1670. This original charter and a later renewal of the charter gave the HBC jurisdiction over two vast areas in the Canadian interior: Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory. Rupert’s Land (named after Prince Rupert of England, who was the first governor for the company) covered what is now known as the provinces of Ontario and Quebec west of the Laurentian Mountains, the province of Manitoba, most of the province of Saskatchewan, the southern part of the province of Alberta, the eastern Nunavut Territory, and small northern portions of the states of North Dakota and Minnesota in the United States. The North-Western Territory covered lands to the north and west of Rupert’s Land.
The Hudson’s Bay Company was the most powerful fur trading company at the time of the Fur Trade, with its major rivals being the North-West Company (which merged with the HBC in 1821), and the American Fur Company in the United States. HBC trade dominated early Canadian life, and affected First Nations peoples across the Dominion. As the HBC pushed west to explore new avenues of trade, the Treaty 7 First Nations peoples eventually came into contact with HBC traders, though trade goods from the HBC were circulating among the peoples for some time before any personal encounters took place.
In 1870, the Canadian Government purchased Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory from the Hudson’s Bay Company to the tune of £ 300,000.00. This paved the way for Canadian development and settlement of the region, and the evolution of the treaty process that acquired lands from the First Nations peoples who were living there.
Indian Act (1876)
The original Indian Act was adopted in 1876, and has been periodically amended since that time. It is federal law, which to this day, gives the Minister of Indian Affairs a full range of powers over virtually every aspect of Native life in Canada. The primary purpose of passing the Indian Act was to consolidate previous colonial legislation and give the Federal Government the legal authority to carry out its ‘civilizing’ process of the Indians. On the other hand, the Indian Act also formalized the Federal Government’s responsibility for Indians; such as the setting aside of reserve lands.
Indian Association of Alberta (IAA)
John Callihoo and Métis leader Malcolm Norris officially founded the IAA in 1939. In Alberta, the IAA came to represent treaty Indian’s interests; shaping their collective identity within Alberta and made their concerns known to both the federal and provincial government. The IAA is probably best known for its leading role in protesting the 1969 White Paper on Indian Affairs and publishing the Red Paper soon after.
Kainai (see Blood)
The Kainai people are one of three main First Nations comprising the Blackfoot Confederacy, with eth other two nations being the Siksika, or Blackfoot, and the Piikani, or Peigan. They were referred to by English speaking traders as the Blood.
According to legend, the name for this First Nation came from a traveler visiting the Kainai wishing to meet with the chief, but everyone he spoke to claimed to have Chief rank. The traveller referred to them as Akainai, which means “many chiefs.” Kainai is a derivative of Akainai, and is the name by which the members of the Kainai First Nation know themselves.
The Kainai, like the other member First Nations of the Blackfoot Confederacy, were a nomadic, buffalo hunting people of the southern plains in what is now Alberta. They occupied the central portion of traditional Blackfoot territory.
Lacombe, Father Albert
Father Albert Lacombe was born on 28 February, 1827, in Saint-Sulspice, Quebec. He studied to be a Roman Catholic priest and was ordained into the Missionary Oblates of St. Mary Immaculate on 13 June, 1849. After his ordination, Lacombe moved west to begin his work. His path eventually led him to Edmonton in the Northwest Territories, in 1852. He founded a number of Catholic missions throughout the land that would become the Province of Alberta.
Between the years 1865 to 1872, Father Lacombe began work among the Cree and Blackfoot First Nations, establishing missions among them and working to end the traditional hostilities between the two peoples. It was during this time, that Lacombe developed a friendship with eth Siksika Chief Crowfoot. Because of this relationship, and because of his work among the Blackfoot, Lacombe was called upon to assist at the Treaty 7 negotiations in 1877, but he was unable to attend the meeting. He did later serve at the negotiations of Treaty 8.
After the signing of Treaty 7, Lacombe continued to minister to the peoples of the southern plains, while also serving the interests of European settlers. In 1883, he convinced Siksika leaders to allow the Canadian Pacific Railway to build a line through Siksika territory. He also helped to convince Blackfoot leaders to stay out of the 1885 Northwest Rebellion led by Louis Riel.
Lacombe continued to travel and pursue his religious work. He died at a hospice he had established for elderly people in Midnapore, Alberta, on 12 December, 1916.
Management of Indian Lands and Property Act
This Act which became statute somewhere between 1857 and 1867, declared the Commissioner of Crown Lands to be the Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs. This rank had power to dispose of lands reserved for the Indians which they had surrendered. Following this, Indian Affairs Administration was transferred from the Commissioner in 1867 to the Secretary of State.
The medicine bundles were the focus of most Plains Indian rituals. They usually contained an unusual rock, strand of hair, feather, bird’s beak, animal skin, and/or sweetgrass. Each item in the bundle had exclusive meaning to its owner. It was a precious possession which represented an individual’s spiritual life and possessed powers for protection and healing. More items could be added as the owner grew older and the bundle was eventually buried with the owner when s/he passed away.
Medicine Calf, Chief
Medicine Calf (or Button Chief) was a Chief of the Kainai and one of the few (some sources say the only) First Nations leaders who attempted to negotiate better terms for the Blackfoot Nation at the Treaty 7 negotiations in 1877.
The Methodist Church was a Protestant Christian Church founded by John and Charles Wesley, among others, in the early 1700s. Originally, the Methodist Church began as a reform movement within the Anglican Church (or Church of England), but eventually split off from the main body of the Church to become its own entity.
Methodist missionaries began their work in Canada as early as 1840, at the request of the Hudson’s Bay Company, to both steer HBC workers away from a perceived life of poor moral grounding and to see to the spiritual conditioning of Aboriginal peoples. Methodist missions were established deep in the Canadian interior, including one established in 1840 by Reverand Robert Rundle at Fort Edmonton.
Methodist missions began to penetrate into what is now southern Alberta starting in 1873, when Reverend John McDougall, son of Reverend George McDougall, established a mission among the Nakoda (Stoney) People at Morley in 1873. In 1883, another Methodist mission was established by the Methodist Missionary John McLean among the Kainai (Blood) people. McLean had been working and teaching among the Blackfoot Peoples since 1880.
Like the Catholic church and other Christian churches, the Methodists established churches and residential schools among the Aboriginal people with the intent of assimilating them into mainstream society. The blessings of such missions were mixed. While missionaries would often advocate for improvements of living conditions among the peoples they worked with, they also would view Aboriginal people as lacking in so-called civilized values, and would encourage them to abandon their traditional language and culture.
The Métis were children of the mixed European and First Nations heritage, born as a result of marriage between French and English traders and First Nations (primarily Cree and Saulteaux) women. As the offspring of two cultures, the Métis forged a unique culture of their own, and have since taken their pace as an officially recognized Aboriginal people in Canada.
As the fur trade pushed westward across the Northwest Territories, the Métis presence in the west began to make itself felt. For the First Nations of the western plains, this presence was not always a welcome one. Along with the Cree, Métis buffalo hunters engaged in the trade of buffalo hides made incursions into the traditional hunting grounds of peoples like the Blackfoot. One thing the Blackfoot Chiefs were hoping for as they entered negotiations for Treaty 7 was an end to such incursions by the Métis and Cree. This request was not honoured by government officials. Instead, the treaty demanded that the Blackfoot Peoples make peace with the Cree and the Métis, which did little to solve the problem of already dwindling buffalo herds.
David Mills served as Minister of the Interior in the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie from 1876 to 1878. In this capacity, Mills received reports concerning the status of the southern plains peoples in what was later to become Alberta. By January, 1877, Mills was reporting to the Canadian government over the desire of the First Nations peoples to make treaty with the government. He was also the minister responsible for selecting the treaty commissioners who negotiated Treaty 7 with the plains tribes: David Laird and James Macleod.
Alexander Morris served as Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories from 1872 to 1876, and as Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Manitoba from 1876 to 1877 (David Laird would become the first Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories starting in 1876). Because he was responsible for governing the lands coveted by the Canadian Government for development and settlement, Morris presided over several of the numbered treaties, specifically Treaties 3, 4, 5, and 6, that acquired land from the First Nations peoples of the Canadian Interior.
During the negotiations for Treaty 6 in 1876, Morris received a request from the Chiefs of the Blackfoot for talks about land use and other issues affecting the Blackfoot peoples. Morris passed this information on to David Mills, Minister of the Interior, who in turn made arrangements for the negotiating of Treaty 7 in 1877.
The people known as the Stoney, who separated from the Plains Assiniboine sometime before 1640 and moved westward with the Cree, speak Nakota, a northern dialect of the Dakota Sioux language. They refer to themselves as or iyarhe Nakodabi or "Rocky Mountain Sioux".
North West Mounted Police
The North West Mounted Police (NWMP) came into being on May 23, 1873 as per an official mandate by Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, with the intent of bringing law and order to (and asserting Canadian sovereignty over) the Northwest Territories (which then included modern day Alberta, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan). The NWMP’s early activities included containing the whiskey trade and enforcing agreements with the First Nations people. On February 1, 1920 the NWMP was renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), with responsibility for federal law enforcement in all provinces and territories.
The Northwest Territories came into being in June of 1870, when the Hudson’s Bay Company transferred control of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory to the government of Canada. The Canadian Government renamed the area the Northwest Territories, and then set about dealing with the challenge of encouraging development and settlement of the region, especially after the west coast Province of British Columbia joined Confederation in 1871. The Numbered treaties with the First nations peoples living in the Territories were meant to quickly transfer the title of land from the First Nations peoples to the British Crown, thus allowing for the young Dominion of Canada to build a railway, develop, and settle the region.
The collective name for a series of treaties negotiated between First Nations peoples living in the Canadian interior and the British Crown. Eleven treaties in all were signed between 1871 and 1921 (James Bay Treaty 9 was signed in 1929 and 1930). All treaties signed placed the condition that the First Nations Peoples would surrender the title of their traditional lands to the British Crown in exchange for annual payments and supplies. Reserve lands were also set aside for the First Nations Peoples to live on. The numbered treaties covered much of the area of the Northwest Territories from the Province of Ontario west to what is now the Province of Alberta.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were a Catholic order of priests dedicated to the mission of spreading the word of Catholic Christian belief among urban and rural populations through missions and retreats. The Oblates were the prime representatives of the Catholic faith among the Treaty 7 First Nations starting around 1873.
Peigan (see Piikani)
Peigan is a corrupted version of the word Apikuni, meaning “scabby hides”, and this term became commonly used to refer to the Piikani people. Spellings of this term vary depending on whether one is north or south of the Canada / United States border. The Canadian group is known simply as the “Peigans” while their relatives south of the border are the “Piegans”, officially incorporated as the “Blackfeet Tribe of Montana.”
Pemmican is a concentrated food consisting of dried meat (usually bison, moose, elk or deer), dried berries (usually Saskatoon berries, cherries, currants, chokecherries, or blueberries) and rendered fat. It was invented by the Native peoples of North America and was widely used during the fur trade. Pemmican was stored in folded rawhide containers called parfleches. They were flat which made them easy to store and transport. Parfleches were greased along their seams to keep out air and moisture. As a result of this storage process, pemmican could be kept fresh for years.
Petition of the Chokitapix or Blackfeet Indian Chiefs (1875)
This document was created by a group of Blackfoot Chiefs with the help of French-Canadian translator Jean-Baptiste L’Heureux in 1875. It was designed to express the concerns the Blackfoot and their allies had regarding the increased presence of Cree and Metis buffalo hunters and European settlers on Blackfoot land, and reads as follows:
Petition of the Chokitapix or Blackfeet Indian Chiefs to Lieut. Governor Morris, President of the Council for the North West Territories: -
Humbly sheweth: -
1. That at a general Council of the Nation held by respective tribe of Blackfeet, Bloods and Peigans in the Fall of 1875, it was decided to draw the attention of your honourable Council of the North West to the following facts, viz –
2. That in the Winter of 1871 a message of Lieut. Governor Archibald was forwarded to us on the Saskatchewan by Mr. I.W. Christie, a member of your honourable Council, and the contents of said message was duly communicated to all your petitioners.
3. That we understood said message to promise us that the Government, or the white man, would not take the Indian lands without a Council of Her Majesty’s Indian Commissioner and the respective Chiefs of the Nation.
4. That the white men have already taken the best location and built houses in any place they pleased in our “hunting grounds.”
5. That the Half-breeds and Cree Indians in large Camps are hunting Buffalo, both Summer and Winter in the very centre of our lands.
6. that the land is pretty well taken up by white men now and no Indian Commissioner has visited us yet.
7. That we pray for an Indian Commissioner to visit us at the Hand Hills, Red Deer River, this year and let us know the time that he will visit us, so that we could hold a Council with him, for putting a stop to the invasion of our Country, till our Treaty be made with the Government.
8. That we are perfectly willing the Mounted Police and the Missionary should remain in the Country, for we are much indebted to them for important services.
9. That we feel perfectly confident that the representative of Our Great Mother, Her Majesty the Queen, will do prompt Justice to her Indian children.
Praying that the Ottawa Government will grant us our Petition, or do in the matter what to you and your Honourable Council of the North West may seem meet; -
Your Petitioners Remain, Your Excellency’s Humble Servants.
Reprinted from Chapter Nine, page 276 of The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7, the original documents are housed at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, and included in the Morris Papers.
Images that are etched or carved onto a rock surface using a piece of bone, antler, or stone.
Images that are painted onto a rock surface using either the artist’s fingers or the porous end of a bone. People often used red ochre to as paint. See Red Ochre.
Piikani (see Peigan)
The Piikani are the southernmost nation of the Blackfoot, and the most populous. Due to contradictory traditions it is difficult to know for sure where the term Piikani comes from. However, the word Apikuni which means “scabby hides” seems to make way for the history of the term. “Scabby hides” found its relevance in the poorly dressed robes of the women in the community.
A ceremonial feast among west coast First Nations Peoples usually held in celebration or recognition of an important event among the people. Potlatches involved the giving away of gifts to guests by the host or hosts of the event. Like many other traditional spiritual and ceremonial practices of First Nations people across Canada, the potlatch ceremony was outlawed by the Indian Act of 1876. This law was later repealed when the Indian Act was revised in 1951.
In general, a powwow is a gathering of First Nations people to socialize, dance, sing, and share entertainment. Traditionally, Plains First Nations peoples organized powwows as general gatherings of socialization, celebration, and entertainment, a practice that continues to the present day.
Qu’Appelle Lakes Treaty
The Qu’Appelle Lakes Treaty is another name for Treaty 4, which was signed in 1874 between the British Crown and the Cree and Saulteaux tribes to obtain land in what is now known as southern Saskatchewan. David Laird, who later negotiated Treaty 7, helped negotiate this treaty. The Treaty is sometimes named for the meeting place where the negotiations were held, in this case the Qu’Appelle Lakes in what was then known as the Northwest Territories.
A mineral that is rich in iron that, when mixed with fat, was used to paint pictographs
Louis Riel was a leader among the Métis people of the Northwest, a founding figure in the creation of the Province of Manitoba, and one of the leaders in the North-West Rebellion of May 1885. Despite hopes from Riel that Plains First Nations groups would unite under his banner (and some like the a few bands of Cree and Assiniboine did), influential chiefs like Crowfoot and Red Crow kept the Blackfoot people out of the fighting, as did other Treaty 7 First Nations Chiefs.
A pair of Treaties made between representatives of the British Crown and the Ojibwa Peoples living on the lands around Great Lakes Huron and Superior. These treaties are named after William Benjamin Robinson, who negotiated the treaties in order to obtain Ojibwa land for the interests of mining.
The Robinson Treaties, concluded and signed in September 1850, refined the process of treaty making with First Nations peoples and set the standard for the later numbered treaties by refining the reserve selection process and including clauses regarding mineral, hunting, and fishing rights.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (see North West Mounted Police)
The RCMP was created as the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) on May 23, 1873 by Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada, with the intent of bringing law and order to (and asserting Canadian sovereignty over) the North-West Territories (which then included modern day Alberta, Nunavut, and Saskatchewan. The NWMP’s early activities included containing the whiskey trade and enforcing agreements with the First Nations people. On February 1, 1920 the NWMP was renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), with responsibility for federal law enforcement in all provinces and territories.
Royal Proclamation of 1763
The Royal Proclamation of King George III established the constitutional foundation of British colonial Canada after the defeat of the French army in North America during the Seven Years’ War. An important clause in the Proclamation regarded the land rights of First Nations peoples, declaring that First Nations land could not be settled upon unless permission to do so was given by the British Crown, who was obligated to negotiate for the title for the land with First Nations leaders.
Along with the North-Western Territory, Rupert’s Land was part of the vast Canadian interior held by the Hudson’s Bay Company. This land was sold to the Canadian Government in 1870, and renamed the Northwest Territories.
Sarcee (see Tsuu T’ina)
A Sarcee, Pat Grasshopper, claimed his tribe was originally named Saxsiiwak, meaning hard or strong people. In their own language, they call themselves tsotli’na meaning Earth people (Indian Tribes of Alberta pp35).
The Shoshoni were a plains people who were traditional enemies of the Blackfoot Peoples. They once had territory on the northern plains, particularly in the Milk River region of Alberta, but after about 1750 they were driven into the lands of the Rocky Mountains region and south into the United States by the Tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Siksika (see Blackfoot)
It was the many chiefs of the Blood who noticed that the traveler’s moccasins had been stained by ash from a prairie fire, so they called him Siksikah, Blackfoot (The People pp 25).
Stoney (see Nakoda)
The Stoneys’ name originated from the term Assinipwat, or Stone People.
One of the most sacred ceremonies of the Plains Indians was, and still is, the Sun Dance. Each tribe had its own distinct variation of the Sun Dance. Sun Dance participants strive to obtain
supernatural aid and personal power through their sacrifice which will not only assure the accomplishment of desired outcomes but which will bring them a richer and more meaningful life as a member of their society. The sacred ritual reaffirms tribal membership and cultural identity and ensures that the people will prosper for another year.
A ritual of purification among many First Nations peoples, including the Treaty 7 First Nations. A Sweat involves prayers and sacred songs and rituals which take place inside a rounded, hide covered dome, in which hot stones are placed and water poured upon them to create steam. Different First Nations have similar rituals in relation to the Sweat Ceremony, though each First Nation has its own unique variations on the tradition.
A rounded dome in which Sweat Cerimonies take place.
The travois was a device used by the Indians to transport their teepees and household goods. A travois consisted of two poles lashed together to form a triangle that was placed along the back of a dog or horse. Crosspieces between the poles would allow for items to placed upon the travois and pulled along.
Treaties were constructed by the British Crown to promote peaceful relations between First Nations and non-Aboriginal people. Over the next several centuries, treaties were signed to characterize, among other things, the respective rights of Aboriginal people and governments to use and enjoy lands that Aboriginal people traditionally occupied.
There are four main categories of Indian treaties: Peace Treaties mainly in the Maritimes during the 18th century; simple land cession treaties in Upper Canada in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; Robinson treaties and the numbered treaties where large tracts of land were ceded or surrendered for cash, annuities, reserves, game rights and other benefits; and modern land claim agreements that are complex with governmental, social, and economic guarantees as well as large tracts of land. Courts, by applying the rules of statutory interpretation, see treaties as legislation.
Signed in 1871 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Chippewa and Swampy Cree Tribes of Indians. Treaty 1 covers southern Manitoba.
Signed in 1871 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Chippewa Tribe of Indians. Treaty 2 covers southeast Saskatchewan and southwest Manitoba.
Signed in 1873 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Saulteaux Tribe of the Ojibwa Indians. Treaty 3 covers southwest Ontario and a small portion of southeast Manitoba.
Signed in 1874 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Cree and Saulteaux Tribes of Indians. Treaty 4 covers most of southern Saskatchewan.
Signed in 1875 between Her Majesty the Queen and Saulteaux and Swampy Cree Tribes of Indians. Treaty 5 covers central Manitoba.
Signed in 1876 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Plain and Wood Cree Indians. Treaty 6 covers central Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Signed in 1877 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Blackfeet. Treaty 7 covers southern Alberta.
A treaty signed in 1899 between Her Majesty the Queen and the Cree, Beaver, Chipewyan, Dene, and Saulteaux Peoples living in the lands that would later become northern Alberta, northwestern Saskatchewan, northeastern British Columbia, and the southwest portion of the Northwest Territories.
The Tsuu T'ina translates as "a great number of people."
Whoop-Up Country (see Fort Whoop-Up)
In 1865, the area north of Montana was known as Whoop-Up country. It was a part of Western Canada that White settlers had not yet reached, so the Canadian government essentially ignored it. There was no one in Whoop-Up country to stop whiskey traders from trading whiskey to the Natives in exchange for furs. In 1869, Fort Whoop-Up was established. However, in Montana, trading whiskey to the Native population was illegal.