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Agreeing to the Treaties: A Matter of Survival

Agreeing to the Treaties: A Matter of Survival
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Historian John Taylor
The Indians knew that there were far more of these people further east and they were coming west. They knew that the cards were ultimately stacked against them in terms of sheer power. So in that sense, you could say that the treaty was forced on that group of people. But the idea of treaties was something that Indians themselves wanted. Why you might ask would want treaties if they understood them as giving up their land? Well first of all, they didn’t understand them as giving up their land, and secondly they saw the treaty as a mechanism to protect them for the future.

Starvation and disease quickly took the people of the plains from proud, self-sufficiency to a grim dependency on the will and whim of the white man and signing a treaty was the quickest way to get help.

Former Grand Chief of the FSIN Perry Bellegard
The treaties were basically signed because they were forced to, they had to sign. A lot of the times, they didn’t want to sign the treaty, they didn’t want to agree to the treaty. But because of starvation, because of disease, the people were dying, our Indian people were suffering and they felt by signing the treaties, by getting these annuities in place, they could buy food, they could buy blankets from the Hudson’s Bay Company. They could get the things they needed to look after the people, to look after their band.

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