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Virtual Museum of Canada The Making of Treaty #8 in Canada's Northwest
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Precursor: Focus 1899

 

 

Scrip

   
Following the signing of Treaty 8, the arduous task of issuing Scrip Commission scrip - certificates which could be redeemed for cash1 or land - began. As in previous treaties in Manitoba and the southern territories, scrip was intended for the M├ętis people who were not included under the treaty agreements. But, since the Athabasca region contained a large number of people of mixed blood, determining which individuals had traces of European ancestry proved too difficult. Instead, it was decided that any aboriginal would be able to choose between accepting the terms of the treaty or taking scrip.

Scrip came in two varieties: land scrip which could be reScrip Notedeemed for 240 acres of Crown land, and money scrip which would entitle the holder to a valuation of $240 which was to be used toward the purchase of land elsewhere. Initially, the scrip was intended to be non-transferable to ensure each individual was settled with land. However, the aboriginal peoples, unfamiliar with the concept of owning land, would not see value in scrip unless they could sell it. Seeing this, the commissioners decided to make the notes transferable.

A vast majority accepted money scrip - most of which was not used to purchase land, but instead sold to scrip buyers from Winnipeg and Edmonton who eagerly snatched up as much land as they could from the Aboriginals, often at less than half its face value. As the scrip allotment process continued, a festive mood took over the camps as entrepreneurs flocked to the area selling their wares. "The camp here at Stony Point is growing daily, every trader has his canvas spread and his wares exposed to catch the dollars from the Indian as he gets paid," reported the Edmonton Bulletin that summer.

The money scrip issued between 1899 and 1900 totaledScrip Tent $286, 800, and the Commissioners reported "the whole population of Indians and Half-breeds throughout the District of Athabasca are perfectly satisfied with the liberal manner in which they have been dealt with by the government of Canada."

Audio Feature:

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Treaty 8 Part Six: Scrip
Summary: The Métis make a strategic mistake. Listen to find out why.
  mp3 or Windows Media or RealAudio | Read

Reprinted from Vision Quest: "Oti nekan," Treaty 8 Centennial Commemorative Magazine, with permission from Tanner Young Marketing Ltd.

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