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The formal agreements between Indian bands and the federal government by which the Indians gave up their land rights in return for various forms of help are called treaties. Initiated as a nation-building attempt after Confederation, the Canadian government negotiated a series of treaties with native peoples across Canada that would allow them (the government) rights to natural resources and the lands necessary to build a national railway that would link the country together. Signing of these treaties took place over a span of 50 years from 1871 to 1921. Eleven numbered treaties were signed, covering most of the Prairie provinces, northern Ontario and parts of British Columbia, Yukon and the North West Territories, in which the Natives had to agree to accept settlement on reserves.