No. 140: Treaties Part Four: Treaty Number 7
The meeting took place at Blackfoot Crossing, near Gleichen. And, according to historian Michael Payne, it was an event of multilingual and multicultural proportions.
It involved members of the treaty party. There were missionaries there, members of the North West Mounted Police. It included some members of people who were known at the time as the Mountain-Assiniboine, or Stoney. But the main participants, really, were members of what was known as the Blackfoot Confederacy: so the people we refer to now as the Peigans, the Bloods or Kainai, the Blackfoot proper, or Siksika, and the Tsuu T'ina or Sarcee, as they were then called.
The life, culture and economy of these people revolved around the buffalo. But with the arrival of the Europeans, that was changing. And so, Treaty Number 7 was negotiated at a very critical time for the Aboriginal people of southern Alberta.
Buffalo had been disappearing from the Canadian plains for many years, and in the years 1875 to 1877, the buffalo hunt had actually failed completely.
These were proud and independent people, but that in many ways, their circumstances were pretty desperate in 1877.
And I think it's a tribute, in fact, to the peoples of southern Alberta, that they didn't just sign what was given to them but, in fact, they tried to consider what their best interests were and how this treaty in fact could help them and their communities survive.
The negotiations over Treaty Number 7 included the most powerful and respected leaders of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Well, the leading figures in the negotiations were Crowfoot, from the Blackfoot, and Red Crow of the Bloods. But the other people, who were also leaders, who signed the treaty as well, was somebody by the name of Sitting on Eagle Tailfeathers, of the Peigan, a chief by the name of Bullhead, of the Tsuu T'ina, and Bearspaw, of the Stoney.
Crowfoot was known as a peacemaker and Red Crow was admired for his shrewdness of mind. It was the discussion between these two chiefs that determined whether treaty would be made at Blackfoot Crossing.
On the Heritage Trail,
I'm Cheryl Croucher.