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Virtual Museum of Canada The Making of Treaty #8 in Canada's Northwest
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The Peoples, Their Places

The Woodland Cree: Fur Trade and Treaty 8 

[Woodland Cree Profiles]

   
klondikers at edmonton The invasion of gold seekers into the North during the Klondike gold rush of 1897 brought about additional hardships for the Cree and Athapaskan groups.  This invasion of hundreds coming into the Peace Country via the "backdoor to the Klondike" put an additional strain on food resources.  Many Klondikers had brought very little provisions with them, and they hunted with poisons and metal traps instead of snares and deadfalls.  Natives were concerned about the increase of illegal liquor and poisoning of their dogs.  Large and small game soon were depleted.  Complaints from Natives, fur traders and Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) finally got the attention of the federal government, which set up a Treaty 8 commission in 1899; one party was headed by the Honourable David Laird and the other by ex-NWMP officer James Walker.  Lesser Slave Lake and Dunvegan were the main centres for the signing of the treaty.  After several days' negotiations held at Lesser Slave Lake, Chief Kinosayo (Keenooshayoo) and headman Moostoos signed the treaty on behalf of the Cree bands in the area.  Other bands further north also took treaty, but it required several adhesions the following year.

One of the Cree bands that was missed altogether in the treaty negotiations was the Lubicon band of the Little Buffalo-Cadotte area.  This small band is still fighting for its land claims.

Reprinted from "A Sense of the Peace," by Roberta Hursey with permission of the Spirit of the Peace Museums Association and the author.