No. 165: Traité Numéro 8: Troisième partie: Opinion partagée des Indigènes
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With the advent of the Klondike Gold Rush, the government of Canada felt compelled to negotiate a settlement with the natives of northern Alberta.
But as historian David Leonard points out, there is no question that in 1898, natives in the North were opposed to any treaty.
From Fort St. John, Peace River Crossing, as well as Lesser Slave Lake, the reports of the missionaries, of the traders, of the police, were that the Indians did not want the treaty.
The feeling was that it would only usher in more white men in the country, and by the examples of the Klondikers, this was undesirable. This was an undesirable happening or eventuality, if it would ever come about, this is not what they wanted.
In the year leading up to June of 1899, traders, missionaries and the police used their influence to persuade the natives to take treaty. And when Commissioner Laird arrived for the treaty negotiations, he reiterated the inevitable.
In his opening remarks, Commissioner Laird pointed out to them that this is a free offer. You may take it, or not. And if you don't, no harm will be done. We will not be bad friends on that account. However, if you don't, there isn't another offer on the table. They did point out that the white man is bound to come in and open up your country.
So, reluctantly, I think those who chose treaty felt that this was the only offer they could get.
But there was yet another group who desperately wanted the natives of the north to take treaty.
They were also being pressured by those Métis present, who were intent on getting scrip. There were a lot of them there, and it was evident that, if the treaty were not made, there would be no issuance of scrip.
And another element there were the traders, the people from Edmonton and Charles Alloway from Winnipeg, who had come up with satchels full of money intending to pay hard cash with scrip notes. So these people were pressuring the Métis in order to get the scrip, and the Métis were pressuring the Indians to sign in order that scrip might be offered them.
For many, there was a sense of resignation about signing Treaty Number 8.
On the Heritage Trail,
I'm Cheryl Croucher.