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The Making of Treaty #8 in Canada's Northwest
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Through the Mackenzie Basin: Treaty at Lesser Slave Lake

   
Through The Mackenzie Basin Original Edition"Keenooshayo: 'Are the terms good forever? As long as the sun shines on us? Because there are orphans we must consider, so that there will be nothing to be thrown up to us by our people afterwards. We want a written treaty, one copy to be given to us, so we shall know what we sign for. Are you willing to give means to instruct children as long as the sun shines and water runs, so that our children will grow up ever increasing in knowledge?'

Mr. Laird: 'The Government will choose teachers according to the religion of the band. If the band are pagans the Government will appoint teachers who, if not acceptable, will be replaced by others. About treaties lasting forever, I will just say that some Indians have to live so like the whites that they have sold their lands and divided the money. But this only happens when the Indians ask for it. Treaties last forever, as signed, unless the Indians wish to make a change. I understand you all agree to the terms of the Treaty. Am I right? If so, I will have the Treaty drawn up, and tomorrow we will sign it. Speak, all those who do not agree!'"

"...At three p.m. on Wednesday, the 21st, the discussion was resumed by Mr. Laird, who after a few preliminary remarks, red the Treaty, which had been drafted by the Commissioners the previous evening. Chief Keenooshayo arose and made a speech, followed by Moostoos, both assenting to the terms, when suddenly, and to the surprise of all, the chief, who had again begun to address the Indians, perceiving gestures of dissent from his people, suddenly stopped and sat down. This looked critical; but, after a somewhat lengthy discussion, everything was smoothed over, and the chief and headmen entered the tent and signed the Treaty after the Commissioners, thus confirming, for this portion of the country, the great Treaty which is intended to cover the whole northern region up to the sixtieth parallel of north latitude. The satisfactory turn of the Lesser Slave Lake Treaty, it was felt, would have a good effect elsewhere, and that, upon hearing of it at the various treaty points to the west and north, the Indians would be more inclined to expedite matters, and to close with the Commissioner's proposals."

Reprinted from Through the Mackenzie Basin: An Account of the Signing of Treaty No. 8 and the Scrip Commission, 1899 by Charles Mair.

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