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Treaty Number 4 Signed One Hundred Years Ago

Lucille Bell

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 1974      v04 n06 p20  
Signing of Treaty Number 4 After six days of conferring with government officials at the Qu'Appelle Lakes, Treaty No. 4 was signed on Sept. 15, 1874, and about 75,00 square miles of territory was surrendered.

The Indian people that settled on reserves in the lower Qu'Appelle Valley came from two tribal backgrounds: Plains Cree and Saulteaux.

On Sept. 8, 1874, commissioners arrived at Qu'Appelle to negotiate Treaty No. 4. Appointed by the government were Honorable Alexander Morris, Lieutenant - Governor of Manitoba, the Honourable David Laird, Minister of the Interior and W. J. Christie, a headman of the Hudson's Bay Company.

Accompanied by a military escort, the commissioner's set up their camp at the Hudson's Bay post, with the militia camped near the lake of Hudson's Bay Land.

The Cree Chief Loud Voice and the Saulteaux Chief Cote, were recognized by the commissioners as leading chiefs of their respective tribes and were expected to act as spokesmen for their people.

Upon their arrival the commissioners sent for the Indians to meet them in a marquee tent which had been set up near the militia camp.

Chief Loud Voice with a number of Cree and Saulteaux appeared. The absence of Saulteaux Chief Cote was interpreted by Morris as a rebuff and he addressed only the Cree.

The Saulteaux were dissatisfied. Loud Voice delivered a message from Cote to Morris, stating the Saulteaux objected to the meeting place. Morris replied, "the location was chosen because it was a good place for the soldiers."

The tone was thus set for the meetings, which followed. When the treaty was signed, after six days of negotiations, it was only due to a threat of departure by the commissioners under a prevailing mood of dissatisfaction among the assembled bands.

The first four days of the conference were occupied by Indian efforts to convey messages to the commissioners that they were not ready to negotiate and they had a grievance against the Hudson's Bay Company.

The commissioners reluctantly gave in to Saulteaux pressure and moved the place of meeting beyond Company land, on the fourth day.

Even then, Loud Voice and Cote refused to speak for the people. A Seaulteaux named the "Gambler" explained to the commissioners why the negotiations were being prevented.

The Indians were angered by the fact that the Hudson's Bay Company could have claimed ownership of Indian Territory and sold it to the Canadian government, plus reserves of land. The Indians were now being asked to agree to this "purchase" by accepting the "presents" offered.

In reply to the allegation, Morris struck at the honour of the Indians by pointing out their agreement to

Treaty Number 4 Signed One Hundred Years Ago

Lucille Bell

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 1974      v04 n06 p21  
meet and that now there is no indication of their intention of trying to reach a settlement.

Morris threatened to go back to the Queen and tell her "we came here and did everything to show the Indians we were earnest in proving her love for them ... and if you will not answer us there is no use in talking."

By the terms of Treaty No. 4, the Indians in the area described surrendered to "the Queen and her successors forever ... all their rights, titles and privileges" to this land or any other land in the territories.

The Queen agreed to assign reserve lands to the Indians as selected by government officers in conference with, each band in the proportion of one square mile for each family of five.

Presents were given in the amounts of $25 to each chief, $15 to each headman up to four in each band, and $12 to every man, woman and child.

In return the Indian people gave up 75,000 square miles of some, of the best farmland in the world. The former Indian land became the breadbasket of the world.