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1899 and After

Taking Treaty 8 Scrip, 1899-1900: A Quantitative Portrait of Northern Alberta Métis

Article Feature By Gerhard J. Ens

scrip commission tent This paper briefly explains the background to the Treaty 8 Scrip Commissions, and how scrip policy was amended to suit the demands of the Métis who lived in the Treaty 8 region. It argues that the issuance of Métis Scrip in conjunction with the signing of Treaty 8 was a direct result of the demands of the Métis of northern Alberta. The paper then uses these scrip applications as life histories to examine the nature of the Métis populations in Northern Alberta at the turn of the 20th century. It was found, however, that the use of these applications in this manner has some limitations as Métis applying for scrip in the Treaty 8 area represented only the youngest adult generation and their children. The paper concludes that Métis adaptations to the economic conditions of northern Alberta was very opportunistic and sophisticated. While no one single model fits the diverse communities that existed in the Treaty 8 area, all followed a very flexible subsistence and wage earning strategy. These occupational strategies, combined with the fact that few Métis farmed exclusively, made the choice of money scrip the most rational course of action. Contrary to most of the recent scholarship, the paper also argues that the Métis of Northern Alberta were not as an indigenous population as previously thought; that there had been a significant Métis migration into Northern Alberta from southern Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

For more information on Treaty 8 Revisited: Selected Papers on the 1999 Centennial Conference, visit the Lobstick website

Reprinted from with permission from Lobstick: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 

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