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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

No. 179: Traité 8, Sixième partie: Certificats aux Métis

Ce texte a été publié en anglais et n'est pas disponible en français.

In 1899, one of the contentious issues in the negotiation of Treaty Number 8 centred on the granting of scrip.

Historian David Leonard explains.

Scrip are notes entitling the bearer to either 240 acres of land of their choice, or a valuation of $240, which could be used toward the eventual purchase of crown land anywhere.

And, in 1899 and the years that followed, anyone with any traces of Indian ancestry could accept scrip instead of treaty.

The Métis pressured the Aboriginals to lobby the government to make the scrip notes transferable.

It had been the intention of the government to make the scrip non-transferable. In other words, the bearer of it, to whom it was assigned, would not be allowed to sell it. In other words, he had to go to the land office, select his land, or go somewhere else and use that as a valuation.

Well, the Métis around Lesser Slave Lake were very upset by that provision, because it only had meaning to them if they could sell it.

The people interested in buying the scrip notes from the Métis were white people who had been following the scrip commissioners. They intended to take the scrip notes and trade them for better land down south.

The government, fearing there would not be a settlement, eventually caved in and changed its mind on scrip.

Sure enough, right in the wake of the settlement, these notes, which were valued at $240 for the eventual purchase of land, were selling from 50, 60, 70 dollars. The highest price paid was at Peace River, where they paid over $100 a piece for these $240 notes.

And, as a result of their sale, many Métis in the North were left without land.

The Métis had reasoned they could settle on Crown Land anywhere, anytime, either as squatters or homesteaders.

But, in the end, what they had really done was sold their entitlement. And, in just a few years, the Métis of the North were among the poorest of people in the country.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher

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