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Treaty Legacy: Reserves

Treaty Legacy: Reserves
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It was assumed that with the buffalo gone, Indians would settle down and begin farming. So a common feature of treaties was the setting aside of lands known as reserves for the exclusive use of the Indian people. The size of each reserve was proportional to band population. But whether the population should be counted at the time of the signing or at a later date when the Indians might choose to begin farming was a subject of great debate.

Former Grand Chief of the FSIN Perry Bellegard
Indian people couldn’t leave the reserves till the '50s. So in effect, they were captives in their own land. They were prisoners in their own land, they had to get a permit to leave their own reserve boundaries and they had to get that from the Indian agent. But the initial attempt of the reserves was there was a place they would be protected, you know their way of life to go on.

Now, seventy years after the last treaty was signed, a lingering issue is whether the size of a reserve should have been pegged to a single census as it was or be changed to meet the growing needs of a band as its population increased.

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