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No. 175: Treaty Number 8: The Terms

By June 20th in 1899, everyone had gathered near the west shore of Lesser Slave Lake for the signing of Treaty Number 8.

As historian David Leonard explains, the meeting wasn't so much a negotiation, but rather an outlining of terms that the government of Canada was offering.

Commissioner Laird got up and explained conceptually all that was being offered to them, in terms of the annuities, in terms of what the chiefs would be getting; medical care; equipment, supplies, and training in farming; education for the children; and the promise of freedom from taxation; and other amenities, were all explained.

And then the chief, with all present, got up and said that he would consider carefully, after having met with his people, what they would say.

During the evening, the terms of the treaty were written down. And the next day they were read aloud. One of the leaders, Kinosayoo, stood up to speak, but then suddenly sat down again when he observed a wave of concern among his people.

Then Commissioner Laird re-explained the terms, basically assuring them that taking reserve land would not require that they live only on the reserve, but that they could live anywhere. It was just that the white people would not be able to occupy the reserve land.

He explained to them also that they didn't have to take their reserve land all in one parcel, but that they could take land in what was called "in severalty," in areas away from the general body of the reserve.

And explaining also that the game laws were there to protect the wild game for continued use, generation after generation, and assuring them also that taking treaty would not subject them to the British Military Draft for service in the Boer War - which was one of the common concerns expressed at that time.

Once again, the people got together to discuss the terms amongst themselves. And, finally, the question of acceptance was put to them.

And based on that general shout of approval, the chiefs, or the chief and headmen, that is, Kinosayoo, Moostoos, Charles Neesuetasis, Weecheewaysis, Felix Giroux, and the Captain from Lesser Slave Lake, at 6 o'clock on the 21st, inscribed their 'X' on the document.

But there were still groups of natives who hadn't come to Lesser Slave Lake.

And so the Treaty Commission launched another trip to take the treaty to them.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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