The invasion of gold seekers into the North during the Klondike gold
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.