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Dr. A.G. Jackes

“Dr. Jackes took a warm interest in the progress of our work, and kept a record of the negotiations, a copy of which… I think ought to be published, as it will be of great value to those who will be called on to administer the treaty, showing as it does what was said by the negotiators and by the Indians, and preventing misrepresentations in the future.”
- Alexander Morris, Treaty Commissioner

At the Treaty 6 negotiations in 1876, Dr. A. G. Jackes was appointed Secretary to Treaty Commissioner Alexander Morris, then Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories. Dr. Jackes kept a detailed account of each day’s proceedings at both the Fort Carlton and Fort Pitt negotiations, recording the commentary and speeches of the Commissioners and the First Nations spokesmen. Dr. Jackes had previous treaty experience prior to Treaty 6; he had also witnessed the signing of Treaty 5 in 1875 at Lake Winnipeg.

In addition to his role as secretary and shorthand recorder, Dr. Jackes made another, symbolic contribution to the Treaty Commission. Before joining the Treaty 6 Commission, Dr. Jackes had practiced medicine at Portage la Prairie, moving to Winnipeg in 1873. There he opened his own practice, which soon developed into one of the largest in the city. As a respected doctor, his presence was likely intended to reassure the Aboriginal people of the government’s concern for their physical well-being.

Besides Dr. Jackes’ account, there are two other written account of the contentious events of the Treaty 6 negotiations — those of Treaty Commissioner Morris and Peter Erasmus. Each account differs slightly in its inclusion or exclusion of particular details. Jackes’ account mentions the bands’ request that the Queen’s government provide them free medical aid if needed; a request not mentioned by Morris in his report. Jackes also recorded Morris’ response to their request, while these points are absent from Morris’ report (see Negotiating a Better Future: The Revised Treaty Terms). Unlike Erasmus’ version of events, Jackes’ account does not include Poundmaker’s speeches criticizing the treaty terms. The voice of the First Nations’ representatives have a much stronger presence in Erasmus’ version.

What all the accounts agree on is that everyone present was concerned about the livelihood of the plains peoples. While consensus on the treaty was eventually reached, returning to these written accounts allows us, perhaps, better access to the multiple voices of, and perspectives on, Treaty 6.

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