Saturday, 29 July 1871
There was confusion when the Indians responded by presenting claims for enormous reserves sites, each of the First Nations set out the portion of their traditional territory each was reserving, perhaps totalling two-thirds of the illegal assumption of the newly created postage-stamp province of Manitoba (1870), despite the repeated emphasis by the Lieutenant Governor and the Commissioner on how little land would be offered. They were most likely talking about traditional territories that each had. The reaction of Archibald and Simpson was that the Indian demands were “preposterous” and would have to be curtailed. After a two-hour adjournment of the proceedings, the Indians came back with a revised plan, which still would have provided as much as “three townships to each Indian”, the Commissioners complained. The Commissioner replied that they did not understand the government’s purpose in making the reserves. On 160 acres of land, he insisted, the Indian could cultivate the soil and comfortably support his family of five. Simpson’s remarks now contained a threat: without the treaty the Indians would be overwhelmed by the flood of settlers and would not even receive what they were now being offered. They should not expect, added Archibald, to receive more for their lands than the Indians of the East. The annuities were to be in perpetuity, a better arrangement than the limited term in the United States. And for the first time a specific amount was mentioned: $12 per family of five. The Commissioners were upset by the demands of the Indians, and adjourned the meeting for the weekend.
(There had been few specifics in the government instructions to the Commissioner, but the maximum payment authorized was $12 per family of five, “with a discretionary power to add small sums in addition when the families exceed that number.” If at all possible, they were to try to obtain the lands for less; and they were reminded “that in the old Provinces of Quebec and Ontario, the highest price paid for the finest lands has seldom, if ever, exceeded four dollars per head per annum, to the Band with which the treaty was made.” By implication, the western lands on average were to be given a lower valuation. It would appear that the cash-starved government also was far less committed to the limit of 160 acres per family of five than the Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor, and likely would have been willing to compromise more on the amount of land than the amount of the annuity).
On 12 May 1870, the Province of Manitoba was born. The Manitoba Act, which was illegal due to no treaty being made set the provincial boundaries to include most of the former District of Assiniboia, with the 49th parallel as its southern border. Its small rectangular shape earned it the nickname Postage Stamp Province. But a growing population, along with the provincial government’s desire for increased revenues, meant that the tiny province needed to expand. In 1881, Manitoba’s boundaries were expanded to five times its original size and entered illegally into Treaty 2 territory. On 15 May 1912, the Manitoba Legislature passed an act calling for further extension of the provincial boundaries and Manitoba grew into its present shape again without consultation.
Waabishki Mazinazoot Mishtaatim
White Spotted HorseKeeper of the Circles/Life Long Learning Lodge
First Nations Treaty 2 Territory (FNT2T)