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



Signing Treaty Eight


KlondikersDespite the Canadian government's interest in settling other areas of Alberta, for years Northwestern Canada had been largely ignored, deemed unfit for development. But by the late 1890s, the perceived need for settlement was mounting. The 1896 discovery of gold in the Yukon had given rise to an influx of prospectors and miners into the northern forests. In addition, it had long been suspected the Athabasca, Peace and Mackenzie regions in question were rich with mineral and agricultural wealth - an estimated 4,700 million tons of tar, along with abundant supplies of natural gas, oil and bitumen. To lay the foundation for development of the region, it was determined that a treaty of the northern region needed to be put into place. The treaty's purpose was to gain control of the land and to lay the groundwork for the economic development of the region.

In the spring of 1899, notices of the pending treaty were being disseminated to all parts of the proposed settlement area. For the government, success at Lesser Slave Lake was crucial - if negotiations failed, word was sure to spread throughout the north jeopardizing the success of subsequent negotiations in the region. To help the cause, the government enlisted the support of the Northwest Mounted Police and local missionaries who were recruited to explain the details of the proposals to the First Nations peoples, as well as to notify them of the dates and locations where the Treaty 8 negotiations were to be held. [continue]

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Treaty 8 Part One
Summary: After Treaty 7, the government had secured all the land it considered valuable until a century later when gold was discovered in the Klondike.
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Reprinted from Vision Quest: "Oti nekan," Treaty 8 Centennial Commemorative Magazine, with permission from Tanner Young Marketing Ltd.

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