PART TWO: TREATY MEDALS

PART TWO: TREATY MEDALS

PART TWO: TREATY MEDALS

DOMINION OF CANADA CHIEF’S MEDAL Not long after Confederation, in 1871, Canada negotiated treaties with various Anishinaabe and Mushkego (Swampy Cree) peoples of what is now southern Manitoba (Treaty Nos. 1 and 2) as a means of opening up new land for immigration and settlement, while the Indigenous signatories hoped to gain some measure of

DOMINION OF CANADA CHIEF’S MEDAL

Not long after Confederation, in 1871, Canada negotiated treaties with various Anishinaabe and Mushkego (Swampy Cree) peoples of what is now southern Manitoba (Treaty Nos. 1 and 2) as a means of opening up new land for immigration and settlement, while the Indigenous signatories hoped to gain some measure of protection from an expected ruinous tidal wave of European settlers. By the time of these treaties it was already long-established custom to seal such agreements with the gift of a suit of clothes, a flag, and a medal to the signing Chiefs.

The first medals were awarded to the Chiefs who signed Treaties 1 and 2. Each ring was inscribed with an English legend identifying the medal as a “Dominion of Canada Chief’s Medal” and the intended recipients as “Indians of the Northwest Territories.” The medal bears a bust of Queen Victoria and the inscription “VICTORIA REGINA”; the reverse side bears a wreath of oak leaves and acorns joined by a knot. Canada, however, failed to obtain any sort of appropriate medal for the occasion specifically for Treaties. Instead, the treaties were solemnized by the distribution of stock medium-sized medals engraved by J. S. and A. B. Wyon of London, England, and selected from premade stock of a type that was normally used for prizes in school or at agricultural fairs.

The small size and the character of these medals understandably rankled with their recipients—they had shared vast lands but in return did not receive even the dignity of a medal suitable for the historic occasion.

  • White Spotted Horse, Anishinaabe, Treaty 2 Territory