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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

No. 130: Traités, deuxième partie

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

The treaty-making process with the Aboriginal people of Western Canada began in 1871.

The government of Canada was intent on legally paving the way for settlers to move into the west. And, as historian Michael Payne explains, negotiations were important to both parties.

But its also important to recognize that in the treaties, the people who signed the treaties were promised significant benefits, and these might well have been critical for the people who, at the time, were struggling to find a place in the new economy, at a time when traditional resources were in decline.

The terms of the treaties were intended to help native people make the transition from a migratory, hunting and gathering culture, to that of a more settled, agricultural one.

The first treaties, such as Treaty Number 1 in southern Manitoba, offered Aboriginal people land in the amount of 160 acres per family of five. They were promised farm animals and equipment, training in farming to help them make the change to this new way of life that was coming in. They were promised education for their children, in some cases, clothing, and a one-time gratuity on signing, followed by annuity payments, amongst other kinds of benefits.

While Treaty Number 1 formed the basis of all the other numbered treaties, the actual terms were modified as both parties gained a better understanding of what it was they were getting themselves into. Treaty Number 3 was signed in Ontario in 1872.

Treaty Number 3 actually significantly revised the terms of Treaties 1 and 2. It gave the First Nations of this area in Northern Ontario an annual payment of five dollars per person, and then, also, larger payments of $15 and $20 for headmen and chiefs of bands.

The people were also promised 640 acres instead of 160 acres per family, and they also got better terms on farm animals, implements, tools and a slightly larger gratuity payment as well on signing of the treaty.

This set the stage for the first treaty that would affect native people in what would later become the province of Alberta.

That was Treaty Number 4, and it was signed in 1874.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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            For more on the Aboriginal history of Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.