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1899 and After

They Think They Own the Land: A Media Account of the Government's Acquisition of Treaty 8 Lands

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Article Feature by Dr. Cora Voyageur


scrip commission at lesser slave lake, albertaLand! Everybody wanted it - Europeans, Easterners, and the Government of Canada - but the Indians and Half-breeds had it. The government could not simply take the land. Canadians' sensibilities would not allow it. As Canadians, we required affirmation (whether genuine of otherwise) that we had treated our Indians better and more equitably than the Americans had treated theirs. There had to be a land surrender and some type of commodity exchange. It seemed the fair thing to do. Treaties were the answer. Government got land for European/Eastern settlement; Indians got Treaty Promises; and Half-breeds got a choice of either land or money. Everybody benefited - not necessarily equally - but that is another matter. The Crown signed Treaties with the Indigenous inhabitants of the region we now know as Canada from at least the mid 1700s. In signing Treaty 8, one of a series of Numbered Treaties, the Indians and Half-breeds of the region gave up 324,000 square miles of land - an area about ¾ the size of Ontario. It was a lengthy process involving the Crown's representatives (Treaty and Half-breed Commissioners) and numerous First Nations leaders and Métis.

This paper analyzes media accounts of the 1899 Treaty 8 signing process. How did the media portray the participants and the events to its readership? Were certain people or events deemed more important than others? Did the Press help fulfill the government's mandate to populate the West and support the Boosterism phenomenon of the time?

Read or print off the entire article in Microsoft Word!

For more information on Treaty 8 Revisited: Selected Papers on the 1999 Centennial Conference, visit the Lobstick website

Reprinted from Treaty 8 Revisited: Selected Papers on the 1999 Centennial Conference with permission from Dr. Cora Voyageur and Lobstick: An Interdisciplinary Journal. 

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