Day Before Treaty


The pre-Columbian Anishinaabe were a nomadic people who moved from place to place in harmony with the seasonal migrations of fish, game and fowl. These provided the principal components of their diets, supplemented by some farmingwhere they subsisted principally by hunting, though all had summer residences, where they raised corn, potatoes, turnips, beans, and sometimes squashes, pumpkins, and melons.Their food supply was bountiful, dependable and extremely healthy, and materials needed to construct snug shelters and make clothing suited to the changing seasons were readily available. They were not wanting.

Because of the communal nature of the society and the abundance of food, poverty among the People was virtually unknown. Material things, other than clothing and household goods, were shared equally. Thus, the old, sick, infirm and otherwise disadvantaged were protected from destitution. Endowed with a high level of personal security, the People had a relatively low level of stress in their lives. This, combined with a healthy diet, blessed them with unusually long lifespans; centenarians were not rare. Comparing their comfortable and serene lifestyles with the hardships then being endured by much of the world’s other peoples, one must conclude that the Anishinaabe were very well off before contact with Europeans.

The scientific perspective has a few theories including one that involves land bridges and continuous waves of migration. The Indigenous perspective involves creationism – not land bridges. The scientific perspective estimated that the Original peoples has been around from anywhere from 14,600 B.C. to 50,000 B.C. (Clovis culture is 13,500 B.C.); depending on which expert you follow. Today, the Bering Strait Theory is NOT absolute. Scientific theory is always evolving as new evidence is found (sites in Alaska and Yukon suggest human occupation as long as 20,000 to 30,000 years ago), and some startling discoveries continue to push back the earliest known dates for human occupancy of North America (Recently, as far back to 50,000 years ago in present day South Carolina “Topper” site). 

Traditional people call North America “Turtle Island” because it is shaped like a turtle (Florida is one hind leg, Baja California is another, Mexico is the tail) and comes from common Indigenous creation stories. Turtle Island was renamed North America after a Spanish explorer, Amerigo Vespucci.

To the Original Peoples of Turtle Island, they have been here from the beginning of mankind, one example of the Anishinaabe origin story is the Original Man. The “Anishinaabe” meaning, “From whence – lowered – human being,” and all of the peoples are named thereafter Anishinaabe. Many cultures throughout the world have the “Man from the Sky, Woman from the Earth” origin stories.

The Anishinaabe, also known as the Chippewa, Ojibway or Ojibwe (said to mean “Puckered Moccasin People”), and Saulteaux, Saulteurs (French name of “People of the Rapids”) lived mainly in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. They speak a form of the Algonquian language and were closely related to the Ottawa and PotawatomiIndians. The Chippewas were allies of the French and French traders often married Chippewa women. Chippewa warriors fought with the French against the British in the French and Indian War. But political alliances changed with the times. During the American Revolution, the Chippewas sided with the British against the Americans. Prior to European contact the Indigenous population is around over 50 to 150 million, over 400 Nations, and over 300 Indigenous languages in North America and over 60 Indigenous languages in Canada.

The 2011 Census of Population recorded over 60 Aboriginal languages grouped into 12 distinct language families – an indication of the diversity of Aboriginal languages in Canada.According to the 2011 Census, almost 213,500 people reported an Aboriginal mother tongue and nearly 213,400 people reported speaking an Aboriginal language most often or regularly at home.

Largest Aboriginal language family is Algonquian

The Indigenous language family with the largest number of people was Algonquian (Anishinaabe). A total of 144,015 people reported a mother tongue belonging to this language family. The Algonquian languages most often reported in 2011 as mother tongues were the Cree languages (83,475), Ojibway (19,275), Innu/Montagnais (10,965) and Oji-Cree (10,180).

People reporting a mother tongue belonging to the Algonquian language family lived across Canada. For example, people with the Cree languages as their mother tongue lived mainly in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta or Quebec. Those with Ojibway or Oji-Cree mother tongues were mainly located in Ontario, Manitoba or Saskatchewan, while those whose mother tongue was Innu/Montagnais or Atikamekw (5,915) lived mostly in Quebec.

Also included in the Algonquian language family were people who reported Mi’kmaq (8,030) who lived mainly in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, and those who reported Blackfoot (3,250) as their mother tongue and who primarily lived in Alberta.

Inuit and Athapaskan languages also frequently reported

The Inuit and the Athapaskan languages were the second (35,500) and third (20,700) language families with the largest populations in 2011.

Inuktitut (34,110) was by far the most frequently reported mother tongue within the Inuit language family. People with Inuktitut as their mother tongue lived mainly in Nunavut or Quebec.

Among the Athapaskan family, Dene (11,860) was most frequently reported as mother tongue. Nearly 71% of people who reported Dene as mother tongue lived in Saskatchewan.

The other nine Aboriginal language families accounted for about 6% of the population who reported an Indigenous mother tongue. Five of these families (Salish, Tsimshian, Wakashan, Kutenai and Haida) were primarily found in British Columbia. This province is home to over 30 different Indigenous mother tongues, most reported by less than 1,000 people each.

Michif, the traditional language of the Métis, was reported as mother tongue by 640 people living mainly in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Alberta.

Cree languages, Inuktitut and Ojibway are the most frequently reported Indigenous languages in Canada.

In the region of Canada, it is estimated around 2.5 to 15 million Indigenous Peoples by the time the French arrived. At least 80% to 95% of the New World’s population was wiped out by disease, conflict or starvation after Europeans first arrived some five centuries ago.There are a number of key events, especially in the last two hundred years that has profound impact on Indigenous peoples in Canada today.


In the thirteenth century, Pope Innocent IV invoked sovereignty’s oaths in the Middle East during the Crusades when he wrote:

“[I]s it licit to invade a land that infidels possess or which belongs to them? … [T]he pope has jurisdiction over all men and power over them in law … so that through this power which the pope possesses I believe that if a gentile, who has no law except the law of nature … does something contrary to the law of nature, the pope can lawfully punish him …. [If the infidels do not obey, they ought to be compelled by the secular arm …. “

Such words provided authority for asserting sovereignty and launching war over non-Christian peoples outside Europe. In the fourteenth century, papal bulls called up these same covenants as people sailed out from Portugal and Spain to cast their words on Africa and North America. Such assertions enabled Iberia’s kings and queens to “discover” and “conquer” lands beyond the recognized borders of western Christianity.

The principles of “discovery” come out of the Roman Catholic Church. In the bulls Dum diversas (1452) and Romanus Pontifex (1455) the right of taking pagans as perpetual slaves was granted to Christians. In the opinion of the Christian Nations of Europe, these bulls served as a justification for the subsequent era of slave trade and colonialism around the World.

In 1452, Pope Nicholas V declared war on all non-Christians. He provided King Alfonso of Portugal a papal bull known as Romanus Pontifex. In this papal bull, Nicholas directed King Alfonso to “capture, vanquish, and subdue the saracens, pagans, and all other enemies of Christ,” to “put them into perpetual slavery,” and “to take all their possessions and property.” Pope Nicholas claimed that those who were not Christian did not have the right to be viewed as human beings. To emphasize this point, Pope Nicholas also issued the papal bull Dum Diversas, which legalized slavery as an act of a just war. Under the authority of these two papal bulls, King Alfonso traveled up and down the western coast of Africa claiming all the lands that he discovered, and enslaving the people.

With the discovery of the Americas in 1492, realization that the Americas represented regions of the Earth with which the Europeans were not aware of earlier, there arose intense speculation over the question whether the natives of these lands were true humans or not. Together with that went a debate over the (mis)treatment and genocide of these natives by the Conquistadores and European colonists.

A substantial party believed that these new found peoples were not truly human. This party speculated that since Christendom was not permitted by God to become aware of their existence and thus bring the Gospel to them until so late, it was only because they were not human or possessed no souls, so they could not attain salvation. The New Testament says that the gospel has been preached to all nations; since the gospel had not been preached to the Native Americans, perhaps they did not count. In addition, Christians understood humanity to be divided into three distinct races (Europeans, Asians, and Africans), one for each of the sons of Noah, based on biblical history of 6,000 years. Indigenous Peoples did not fit among these divisions.

Did you know, prior to contact with the explorer Christopher Columbus (1492 A.D.) there has also been earlier visitors such as the Irish sea-faring monks in the 6th Century, Vikings (956 A.D.),Malian Sailors of West Africa (2,000 boats in 1311 A.D.), Spanish Basques Whalers (1372 A.D.)and the Chinese Explorers (mapping out the west coast in 1418 A.D.). Yet Christopher Columbus was credited for discovering Americas. He did not even set foot on the main Continent.

1492 – Europeans at the time of Christopher Columbus’s voyage often referred to all of South and East Asia as “India” or “the Indias/Indies,” sometimes dividing the area into “Greater India,” and “Middle India,” and “Lesser India.” The oldest surviving terrestrial globe, by Martin Behaim in 1492 (before Columbus’ voyage), labels the entire Asian subcontinent region as “India”.

Christopher Columbus (1451 – 1506) carried a passport in Latin from the Spanish monarchs that dispatched him ab partes Indie (“toward the regions of India”) on their behalf. When he landed in the Antilles, Columbus referred to the resident peoples he encountered there as “Indians” in the mistaken belief that he had reached the Indian Ocean. Although Columbus’ mistake was soon recognized, the name stuck; for centuries the native people of the Americas were collectively called “Indians.” This misnomer was perpetuated in place naming; the islands of the Caribbean were named, and are still known as, the West Indies. [Personal note: I am glad that Columbus was not looking for Turkey, otherwise, we would have been called … – White Spotted Horse]

In the late 20th century, some American public figures suggested that the origin of the term was not from confusion with India, but from the Spanish expression En Dios, meaning “in God.” Proponents of this idea include the American Indian activist Russell Means; the author Peter Matthiessen, author of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, a view of American Indian history through the life and trial of Lakota activist Leonard Peltier. In his book The Wind Is My Mother, the Muskogee writer Bear Heart (Nokus Feke EmathaTustanaki) wrote, “When Columbus found the natives here, they were gentle people who accepted him, so Columbus wrote in his journal, ‘These are people of God’ (“una gente in Dios“). Later the ‘s’ was dropped and Indio became Indian.”

          As European colonists began to move into the Americas in the 17th and 18th centuries, and have more sustained contact with the resident peoples, it became clear that the residents were not a homogenous group sharing a unified culture and government, but discrete societies with their own distinct languages and social systems. Early historical accounts show that some colonists attempted to learn and record the autonyms of these individual groups, but the use of the general term “Indian” persisted.

In Canada today, they are still legally categorized by the Canadian Government under the Indian Act as (Status or Non-status)Indians or Registered Indians. European arrival in the “New World” changed First Nations societies forever.

“They are well built people of handsome structure…. and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

“I think that Christendom will do good business with these Indians, especially Spain, whose subjects they must all become.” – Journal of Christopher Columbus

1493 – At the time of contact, Europeans had doubts as to whether Indians in the Americas were human — only Christians were considered human (of having souls). At the request of the King and Queen of Spain, Pope AlexanderVI issued the following papal bull. According to the Doctrine of Discoveryin May 1493, decreed those lands to be possessed by the kingdom of Castiles, perpetually, non-Christian nations may no longer own land in the face of claims made by the Christian sovereigns of Europe. The category “newly discovered lands” includes the lands of Indigenous Peoples categorized at that time by various Christian powers of Europe “Christendom” as non-Christians, for example, “heathens,” “pagans,” “gentiles,” “infidels,” “barbarians,” “savages” and “Indians”  The Indigenous people of these lands are then to be placed under the tutelage and guardianship of those Christian nations that ‘discover’ their lands. [The discovery doctrine was the self-serving legal principle whereby Europeans Christian Nations claimed rights of sovereignty and ownership of regions they claimed to “discover.” Under this doctrine, Indigenous peoples could not claim ownership of their lands, but only the right to occupy and use the land.] Terra Nullius The Doctrine of Terra Nnullius, which in Latin means ‘empty land’ – gave a colonial nation the right to absorb any barren or uninhabitable territory encountered by explorers. Which takes us back to Pope Nicholas V’s papal bull in the mid-1450s authorizing Christian kings to enslave people and seize their lands and goods in any non-Christian territory. That theory espouses that Indigenous Peoples were so uncivilized that they could not be seen in law to be true legal occupants and owners of their lands.In other words, if the land was deemed ‘empty,’ then it considered subject to the Doctrine of Discovery and could be claimed by the Christian European explorers. Over time, this concept was conveniently expanded to include lands not occupied by Christian (God’s Will?) or ‘civilized’ peoples, or those not being put to ‘civilized’ use. Centuries of destruction and genocide, and resulted from the application of the Doctrine of Discovery and framework of dominance to Indigenous Peoples, and to their lands, territories, and resources all over the world.  

       During this quincentennial of Columbus’ journey to the Americas, it is important to recognize that the grim acts of genocide and conquest committed by Columbus and his men against the peaceful Native people of the Caribbean were sanctioned by the abovementioned documents of the Catholic Church. Indeed, these papal documents were frequently used by Christian European conquerors in the Americas to justify an incredibly brutal system of colonization – which dehumanized the Indigenous people by regarding their territories as being “inhabited only by brute animals.”

The lesson to be learned is that the papal bulls of 1452 and 1493 are but two clear examples of how the “Christian Powers,” or “different States of Christendom,” viewed Indigenous peoples as “the lawful spoil and prey of their civilized conquerors.” In fact, the Christian “Law of Nations” asserted that Christian nations had a divine right, based on the Bible, to claim absolute title to and ultimate authority over any newly “discovered” non-Christian inhabitants and their lands. Over the next several centuries, these beliefs and false assumptions gave rise to the Doctrine of Discovery and Terra Nullius used by Spain, Portugal, England, France, and Holland – all Christian nations including United States of America and Canada. Colonization by Europeans forever changed the World. 

1497 – Early as the year 1496, her monarch granted a commission to John Cabot(1450 – 1499), to discover countries then unknown to Christian people, and to take possession of them in the name of the King of England. Cabot in search of a route to India, stumbles upon the coast of Labrador, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland, and trades furs with Anishinaabek: Mi’kmaq people. Era of the Fur Trade in Canada begins.

  • Around this time, 9 Indigenous Nations made a Peace Treaty for safe passage and trading at the “Gathering Place” where the Assiniboine River connects with the Red River. Today known as The Forks in Winnipeg.

1512 – Pope Julius II declared that Indians are people too, but have no God: “Indians are truly men…they may and should freely and legitimately enjoy their liberty and possession of their property; nor should they be in any way enslaved.” Twenty years after initial contact with the First Nations, the Christian European Nations had a continuous debate on whether Indians were human beings with souls. This eventually resulted in a struggle by different religious groups to race in the saving the souls of the Indigenous Peoples in the New World.

1514 – Christianity was also used to justify the taking of the lands of the Original Peoples. In 1514, a document known as the Requerimientoor “Injunction” was issued for the legal use of “discoverers”. The document begins by noting Jesus Christ is the supreme sovereign, who transmitted his power to St. Peter (As shaped by Paul the Apostle), and later to the Popes who have followed, the last of which had bequeathed the lands found by Columbus to the Spaniards. All that remains is to inform the Original Peoples of their legal situation, since in their ignorance they were likely unaware of the gift the Pope had made to the Spanish Crown. Therefore, the Requerimientosaid, the document was to be read to the Indians in the presence of an officer of the King. If the Indians agree, they were not to be taken as slaves. However, if they did not accept the fact their lands were no longer theirs, they were to be punished. The official reading the document was to say to any who resisted, “I certify to you that with the help of God we shall forcibly enter into your country and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can. . . We shall take you and your wives and your children and shall make slaves of them … and we shall take away your goods, and we shall do all the harm and damage that we can.” [Catch 22. If the Original Peoples resisted the Spanish cruelties, they provided justification for war against them. The Americans will do the same under their ‘Manifest Destiny.’ Documents such as the Requerimiento, numerous papal bulls, and other proclamations mingled to create a conquest justifying assertions of sovereignty over others’ lands.

1532 – In Sublimis Deus, Pope Paul III unequivocally declares the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas to be rational beings with souls, denouncing any idea to the contrary as directly inspired by the “enemy of the human race” (Satan). He goes on to condemn their reduction to slavery in the strongest terms, declaring it null and void for as well as for any people known or that could be discovered in the future, entitles their right to liberty and property, and concludes with a call for their evangelization. Era of Christianization of Indigenous Peoples in the New World begins.

1534 –The early period in Canadian history is generally defined by the fur trade which developed as the Europeans came in contact with Indigenous Peoples along the Eastern shores, particularly along the shores of what is now the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Historical documented example of what took place in 1534, when the well-known French explorer Jacques Cartier (1491 – 1557) saw Indigenouspeople waving at him as he sailed into the Baie des Chaleurs, “they had long poles and they held up furs and they waved them back and forth. They wanted him to come ashore and trade furs…and when Cartier eventually sent his men ashore, they all cheered.” Indigenous people on the East coast have been trading with European fishermen for years before Cartier had shown up.

  • The name “Canada” likely comes from the Huron-Iroquois word “Kanata or Kanatha,” meaning “village” or “settlement.” In 1535, two Indigenous youths told French explorer Jacques Cartier about the route to Kanata; they were actually referring to the 10 Ten Thousand Iroquoian village of Stadacona, the site of the present-day Quebec City.
  • As Jacques Cartier, travels up the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In the presence of the Iroquoian people and their Chief Donnacona of Stadacona, the French explorer erected a large wooden cross emblazoned with the words Vive Le Roi de France and claimed the land in the name of King Francois I. Chief Donnacona was understandably upset at this display. In spite of the language barrier, the Chief knew full well that Cartier was up to no good and he angrily denounced the explorer’s actions. This early confrontation between European imperial claims and First Nation ancestral rights is an important moment in Canadian history that continues to this day, and it too set the tone for much of what would follow. Cartier knew that this land belonged to someone else and knew that the lands were not empty. Later, the French explorers will find that the interior has many unique Nations. “Pointing to the cross [Donnacona} made us a long harangue… and then he pointed to the land all around about, as if he wished to say that all this region belonged to him, and that we ought not to have set up our cross without his permission.” – Jacques Cartier

Later on his second voyage, Cartier and his men becomes icebound, and his men are saved from the death of scurvy by the Iroquois, who feed them vitamin C in boiled cedar and provisions. In exchange for the Iroquoian kindness, Cartier kidnaps Chief Donnaconaand along of 10 others to France as slaves. All but one little girl will perish in France.

1599 – The first verifiable Canadian Half-breed likely originated from the survivors of the sixteen man settlement of Tadoussac, who, in 1599, went to live with the savages. Some suggest only 5 of the 16 survived the winter. Earlier Half-breed were absorbed totally into a native culture, whereas these men and their offspring would have an opportunity to observe, compare and select their own culture.

1600 – In these times, four linguistic groups of Original Peoples occupied the Canadian River Valley (St. Lawrence River) and Great Lakes area of Canada. These people are the Algonquian (Anishinaabe), Wendat (Iroquois speaking Huron), Dakota (Sioux). The primary locations of the Iroquois and Dakota are in areas that will eventually become the United States of America. Many Iroquois would become immigrants (“going back to their original territory) to Canada, fleeing persecution from the Americans. The Algonquian (Anishinaabe) Nation dominated Canada and is considered a peaceful and accommodating culture. However, they loved freedom as a sovereign Peoples of their lands, especially a free trading environment above many other of their beliefs. The Iroquois and Dakota (Sioux) are considered aggressive and war like in nature. Evidence suggests the Dutch and later the English and French instigated trouble between the Iroquois, Wendat, Dakota and Algonquian(Anishinaabe). They labelled all North American people savages, meaning not civilized. Europeans, whose basic assumption is that all people are fundamentally evil, impose this savage cultural classification of Indians. They believe they are born evil because they are conceived in original sin. Most Church records, even to modern times, reinforced this erroneous perception by referring to Indians as a dirty, pagan and savage people. The Church is central in classifying all Native people as savages or non-human being. This persistent European belief has little bases in Indigenous tradition or early records of European contact. All historical records tend to support the contention that most Europeans are the dirty, pagan and aggressive savage-like culture. Let there be no doubt that the Spanish, Dutch, French and English transported some of their worst people, beliefs and values to the Americas to teach the Original Peoples about their destructive civilization under the banner of Christianity and civilization.

1601 – It was noted that Europeans were ill at ease in the interior of North America and very slow to learn the necessities of life, like how to use canoes, snowshoes and basic survival skills. It is noteworthy that thousands of Europeans had spent 100 years on the shores of America and only the Spanish and the French had penetrated into the interior of the continents. Based on the experience of the French there must have been hundreds of Europeans who became “runners of the woods” duringthis time period. Adopting the lifestyle of the Original Peoples.

1603 – Samuel of Champlain (1570-1635), a Protestant Frenchman, (baptized Roman Catholic) is recruited by the catholic commander Aymar de Chaste for his voyage of exploration in America. Henri IV, king of France, names him Royal geographer. He arrives in Tadoussac on May 26th and receives a warm welcome from the local Indigenous Nation. He smokes his first peace calumet. He then visits the Saguenay and the future locations of Québec, Montréal and Boucherville. The French are aware that many European Nations are beginning to establish toe holds in the Canadian trade. The French decided to enter trading relations with Indigenous Nations, they found that the Indigenous Peoples mostaccommodating. Chief Anadabijou of Tadoussac declares that he sees no objection to France sending colonists on his lands. Many early historians consider this early cultural contact as the beginning of ‘Paradise Lost’. Back in France, Champlain published his first book: “Des Sauvages”. 

1604 – Samuel de Champlainof Francestarted the French Trading Period by establishing a fur trading post in Acadia (Nova Scotia). This trading post, however, would fail in 1607. Evidence suggests other French, Basque, Dutch and Spanish are trading furs in Canada. It is noteworthy that the Basque have been trading furs for the past 50 or more years in Canada. 

1605 – French build permanent settlement at Port Royal on the Bay of Fundy. The Mi’kmaq Grand ChiefHenri Membertouwelcomes the French who wish to build a permanent settlement.

1610 – French traders meet the Ojibwa (Chippewa) who call themselves Anishinaabe, who held the territory from the west shore of Lake Huron, all of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior to the mountain ridge between Lake Superior and the frozen Bay.  In short all of Michigan, most of Wisconsin and parts of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and west Ontario. Ojibwa, which is described as being identical to Ottawa (Odahwaug)and Potawatomi, became the trade language in the northern Great Lakes. Trading historically is conducted with their brothers the Ottawa. They fished, hunted and traded freely on LakesHuron, Erie and Ontario. The falls of Saint Marie near Sault Ste Marie (Bow-e-ting) has long been a crossroad for the Ojibwa. A large contingent of moved to Sault Ste Marie this year from La Pointe, Wisconsin their historic center and many would stay until 1710.

1613 – The Two Row Wampum Treaty, also known as Guswhentaor Kaswehnta, is an agreementmade between representatives of the Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)and representatives of the Dutch government in 1613 in what is now upstate NewYork. The pattern of the belt consists of two rows of purple wampum beads against abackground of white beads. The purple beads signify the courses of two vessels—aHaudenosaunee canoe and a European ship—traveling down the river of life together,parallel but never touching. The three white stripes denote peace and friendship. Thiswampum records the meaning of the agreement, which declared peaceful coexistencebetween the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers in the area. The Two-Row (common symbol: Two paths – One journey) is often cited as an understanding based on mutual co-existence, respect and non-interference in each others’ internal affairs.”

“When the Haudenosaunee first came into contact with the European nations, treaties of peace and friendship were made. Each wassymbolized by the Gus-Wen-Tah or Two Row Wampum. There is a bed of white wampum which symbolizes the purity of the agreement.There are two rows of purple, and those two rows have the spirit of your ancestors and mine. There are three beads of wampum separatingthe two rows and they symbolize peace, friendship and respect.These two rows will symbolize two paths or two vessels, travelling down the same river together. One, a birch bark canoe, will be for theIndian people, their laws, their customs and their ways. The other, a ship, will be for the white people and their laws, their customs and theirways. We shall each travel the river together, side by side, but in our own boat. Neither of us will try to steer the other’s vessel.Thus, in the “two-row” wampum there are two parallel paths. In one path travels the aboriginal canoe. In the other path travels theEuropean ship. The two vessels co-exist but they never touch. Each is the sovereign of its own destiny.”(Described in the Haudenosaunee presentation to the Parliamentary Special Committee on Indian Self-Government in 1983)

          Another symbol is the Iron Covenant Chain. An “iron chain” was substituted for a rope which first was cited as a metaphor for the relationship between the Iroquois and Britain “your ship tied to our lands.” That is, the substitution of iron from rope was symbolic of the friendship growing stronger.

          When asked about the half-breed, “when the storms come, they (Metis) have to choose where they want to be.” Be it the land or the boat.

          Later, a Silver Covenant Chain was substituted for the Iron Chain, an even stronger and longer lasting friendship, since silver doesn’t rust. The chain was, however, to be “polished” when blemished”, meaning when problems arose between the parties, the friendship should be cleaned and renewed. The Chain was a metaphor for mutual friendship and protection. The nature of the Covenant Chain is that of a compact, political union in which the participating Nations are like links of a chain. Each link retains its identity, as each Nation continues to conduct its internal affairs. The purpose of the making of the Chain, as of any compact between Nations, is to create the strength and protection that flow from unity in a common purpose.

1614 – Samuel of Champlain (1570-1635) produced the first crude map of the North West Territories including Manitoba, James and Button Bay (Hudson Bay) that obviously originated from natives and Coureurs de Bois maps or other verbal accounts. 

1615 – The French send the Recollects to New France to convert the savages to Christianity and to assimilate them into the French culture. The Recollects were amazed that no savages were interested in adopting the French culture. Equally disconcerting was the fact that many French were ready and willing to adopt the savage’s culture. GabrialSeguard, a Recollect, is astonished to learn the reaction of the Indians to the French. The Indians see the French as feeble minded because of the hair growing on their face. He also noted that religion and trade do not go well together. Most French traders did not want religion taught to the Indians. The Recollect says that the Traders hold the beaver in a higher regard than they do their souls. It is noteworthy that the Kebec trading post only contains some 50 people and already there are 5 or more Coureurs des Bois living among the savages.

  • This year Father Joseph Le Caron (1586-1632) celebrated the first mass in what is now called Ontario “Clear Lake”. Samuel of Champlain visits Lakes Huron, Ontario and the Wendat town of Cahiague. The Town of Cahiague, being enclosed with thirty feet high palisades, greatly impressed Champlain. He had discussions with Etienne Brûlé who, the priest would later say, is much addicted to women and has many Native women. This is the first recorded incident showing that the Roman Catholic Church had begun its UN-Holy War on the Coureurs des Bois. Champlain also reported that a number of French traders are living among the Indians of Lake Huron aka The Great Lake – La Mer Douce (the calm sea). 

1616 – During the period of 1616 to 1642, the Wendat/Algonquian (Anishinaabe) Confederation enhanced their trading empire which included all the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay and alliances with the Algonkin, Ottawa (meaning traders), Nipissing, Ojibwa and Cree Nations.  The French and Dutch would use this enhanced merchant class status to create a long standing cultural and territorial dispute with the Iroquois Nation.

  • Canadian history largely ignored the growing independent Basque, Celt and French free traders that had gone Native because the Roman Catholic Church and Samuel of Champlain consider them an obnoxious lot. The French considered them very difficult, if not impossible, to control.  Control from a European perspective is punitive in nature, whereas the Original Peaples considered control to be through reason and consensus. They believed only God and Nature held control over man. Everyone is free (free will, gift of God). The early Native Canadians socially ostracized those who attempted to exercise control over others.

1618 – The Coureurs des Bois had reached the Chequamegon Territory. This includes the area between the Ojibwa towns of Skiaeronon (Sault Ste Marie, Michigan) and Chequamegon (La Pointe, Wisconsin).  Ojibwa oral tradition supports this contention. Chequamegon (She-wam-egun) is an early reference to the south shore of Lake Superior between Baraga, Michigan and Duluth, Minnesota. The Coureurs de Bois called the Ojibwa people of the first town Saulteurs (Saulteaux) and Outchibouec; meaning people of the rapids. The Ojibwa called themselves Anishinaabe (Anishinaabeg) meaning first or original man. Ojibwa tradition relates that their people originated near the Great Eastern Salt Ocean. Ojibwa or Ojibwas also means those who make pictographs. Ojibwa is a French term and Chippewa, an English name. Skiaeronon would later be called Boweting or Falls of St. Marie then Saulteurs of Saint Marie. Later known as Saulteaux. These Saulteaux raised Mundamin (corn), Squash and Climbing Beans aka “3 Sisters.” 

1623 –The Montagnais plundered a French vessel in response to a trader breach of traditional protocol. The opening gift to the Erouachy at Tadoussac is too small. The trader realized his mistake, made restitution and friendly relations are resumed. The giving of gifts is in recognition of the rights of the guardians of the land and waterways. The French would perfect the ritual of gift giving that would serve them well as the trade expanded over the continent. The ritual of gift giving is a universal value on Turtle Island. The most common gift was tobacco as this has a significant spiritual value to the Indigenous Peoples as stewards of their part of “ManidooGitigaan” (Creator’s Garden). It would appear that the Coureurs de Bois understood and perfected this French Canadian tradition. The English/Europeans never understood the Indigenous idea of guardianship of the land, the ritual or its cultural and spiritual importance as being equal to all livings things and having the responsibility to look after the Garden. “Then God said, Let us make manin our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” [Genesis 1:26]The word dominion means “rule or power over.” Original Peoples consider themselves equal to all on Earth and the responsibility of looking after the garden “All my Relations.”

1627- The Company of New France was created, and the King of France gave the company a fur trade monopoly, on condition that it brings settlers to populate New France. Individual explorers like Étienne Brulé, seeing the rich abundance of fur in the interior, quickly turned into entrepreneurs.

1633 – Samuel de Champlain of New FranceProclaimed in the Name ofKing Louis XIII: “Our boys will marry with your daughters, and we will make one Nation.” Inter-marriages were common practices to strengthen kinship among different nations/tribes of Turtle Island. Samuel of Champlain had promised the Wendat (Huron) in 1619 that the French would go into their country and marry their daughters. Later, Jean Talon (1626-1694) stated that the incorporation of Indians would enrich the colony more than immigration would. Louis XIV would also institute the Kings Gift, a subsidy for mixed marriages. The early Church tolerated these marriages hoping, thereby, to gain more converts. The Recollects reported this year that five or six Frenchmen had joined the Wendat (Huron), being lost to the colony.  Shortly thereafter the Church would change her opinion, as the Frenchmen preferred the Indian religion and culture. These deserters to the faith and civilization had chosen to run in the woods like a savage, so reported the Jesuits.

1635 – A Jesuit mission in Sillery (Quebec City) creates the first Indian reserve in Canada, based on a model used by the Jesuits in Paraguay, where they have tried for more than forty years “to confine and reduce” the Indigenous populations (quoted from the writings of Father Le Jeune). Until 1649, 167 Indians lived there, when it was deserted because of a famine.

1652 – The Ojibwa for the past thirty-five years have been trading to Montreal, refers to Mount Royal, (“Mooniya” is an Ojibway term for Whiteman) with no interruption. This year the Iroquois massacred an Ojibwa trading party at French River on route to Montreal. The Ojibwa sent a message to the Iroquois to the effect if they ever perpetrated the like again; they would send a few of their warriors in pursuit, to exterminate them.  The Iroquois laughed in scorn and inquired whether the Ojibwa included their women in their proposed extermination.  A Council of Peace is called by the Ojibwa below Sault Ste. Marie called Massessauga. The Iroquois concluded a treaty that they did not intend to preserve.  The peace prevailed during the summer but the Iroquois again attacked the traders above the falls (near Baytown) on the Ottawa River killing twenty.  The Ojibwa being peaceful people are exasperated.  A Grand Council is called and a delegation of negotiators went to the Nahtooway,Sahgeeny, and the principle village of the Iroquois on the easternmost shore of Lake Huron.The Ojibwa demanded as many packs of furs as traders they had slain in restitution. The Iroquois granted amid the manifest dissatisfaction of the people.  The Ojibwa said the next infraction would bring the powerful Ojibwa Nation into war with the Iroquois. Trade resumed to Montreal and the treaty would remain unbroken for three years.

1654 – Pierre Radisson is adopted by a Mohawk family who take him to Hudson’s Bay. Radisson returns to Europe with news of commercial possibilities. However, after France proved to be disinterested, he goes to the English who form the Hudson’s Bay Company.  

1655 – In the fall the Iroquois simultaneously attacked the Ojibwa at various points along the Mahahmoosebee.  Runners are sent during the winter to the Ojibwa allies, the Sac, Foxes, Menominee, Kinnestenoes, Potawatomi, Wendat of Sandusky, from the extreme end of Lake Superior to the prairies of Illinois.

1656 – The Ojibwa made a pronged attack on the Iroquois. One party routed the Iroquois on the Mahamooseebee with minor resistance as the Iroquois are greatly outnumbered.  Those who had gone to the St.ClaireRiver had a fierce battle at the mouth of the SahgeengRiver and when joined by the southern Wendat eventually overran the whole of the south of the peninsula. The bloodiest battles are fought on Lake Simcoe, at a place called Ramma, at MudLake, PigeonLake and RiceLake.  The last battle is fought at the mouth of the Trent River.  The first encounter between the Mohawk and the Ojibwa is fought at a place where Orillea is situated about a quarter mile north.  The Mohawk are in great numbers and resisted stoutly for three days.  They finally sued for mercy that is granted.   The few survivors are allowed to go to Lake Huron there they remained during the rest of the war.  The second great battle is fought at PigeonLake where the Iroquois had made a strong fort.  A great number of Ojibwa is killed before the fort is stormed and as a result few Iroquois are spared.  The third battle is fought near MudLake about twelve miles north of Peterboro.  Not a male person is spared.  The next day another village at Peterboro and Smithtown is attacked, and an immense number of Iroquois is slaughtered.  The fourth village attacked is at the mouth of the Otonabee on RiceLake where several hundred are slain.  Panic struck the Iroquois and they assembled their remaining forces in Percy on the river Trent.  Of this army of Iroquois warrior’s, one alone is saved. The Iroquois are entirely broken up and the country subdued.  The Iroquois would never again pull themselves together against the Ojibwa for they had the whole of the Western Peoples against them. They are constantly reminded that the Ojibwa are a mighty Nation who could again send a few warriors against them if the violated the peace.

1660 – The Ojibwa from West Lake Superior (likely La Pointe) informed the French (Grosillere’s party) of the geography of North America. They explained there are four salt seas one to the East, one to the North, one to the West and one to the South. They explained it is an 8-10-day journey north of Lake Superior to the Hudson Bay. They explained that the People 60 leagues to the west of Lake Superior have been obtaining European trade goods from St. Espirt in the Gulf of Mexico.

1661– The Dakota People* meet with Radisson and Groseillier and requested an alliance to protect them from the attacks of the Christinosor Christinaux later shortened to Cri or Cree(Woodland Cree supported by the French).They call themselves Ininew, meaning “persons.” These Cree are trading from the Hudson Bay to Sault Ste. Marie.  The Dakota People who previously occupied eastern Saskatchewan, eastern Manitoba and western Ontario are now divided into three groups.  The Siouan speaking Dakota Santee being farmers occupied semi-permanent villages along the Mississippi.  Between the Mississippi and lower Missouri River were the Dakota Nakota (Yanktonai) also Siouan speaking semi-mobile but mainly hunting big game. The Assiniboine and Stony of Canada speak the same dialect of the Yanktonia, however, separated themselves from the Dakota and formed an alliance with the Cree.  Farthest west along the Missouri River lived the Dakota Lakota (Teton) who where wholly mobile and followed the bison (buffalo).  They were all untied in an informal coalition called the Dakota or just allies.

*Sioux is not even a word?” It’s a partial word, a slang word; Sioux comes from two words.”Nadowessi” comes from the Chippewa’s and “Oux” comes from the French. The two words were put together is “Nadowessioux.” Sioux has no meaning in either the Chippewa or French language. “Nadowessi” is the main word; “Oux” is like when you put the “s” on the end of a word to make it plural or two things (a suffix). It’s like, one little serpent, you say “Nadowessi”; to say two little serpents, you put the “oux” on (Nadowessi-oux) or like adding the suffix (s) to the end of serpent. “Nadowessi(oux)” is like saying two little serpent(s). “Nadowessi” means little serpent; “Nadowessioux” means two little serpents; “Sioux” is a slang word meaning little devils or demons. Nadowessi refers to the Ojibwa Nation; Nadowessioux refers to the Ojibwa Nation and the Dakota Tribe; Sioux refers to the Dakota Tribe. Later the US government stuck the Lakota and NakotaTribe in this word Sioux. The original translation for Sioux is serpent; it can also be translated viper, adder or snake. The Natives didn’t understand these words, but they knew snake, so instead of the original words, snake was used as the translation. Serpent is one of the names for Lucifer (Wakansica), like Satan or the Devil is. Vipers, adders, snakes or serpents are some of the names for Lucifer’s devils or demons. This word did not and does not come from the Lakota, Dakota or Nakota. Oglala Lakota Oyate is a proper name not Oglala Sioux Tribe. TatankaOyate (Buffalo Nation) or Oceti Sakowin (Seven council fires) is the proper name not Sioux Nation.

1690 ­- West of Red River on the White Horse Plains a very swift horse is shunned by all peoples.  Legend says that it was exchanged for the daughter of an Assiniboine by one of two suitors (Dakota and a Cree from WaskwiSipihk?) of different bands.  The rejected Dakota suitor attacks the wedding feast; the bride sped away on the white horse with her Cree husband on another slower horse.  It is said she had to restrain her horse to the slower speed of her husband and both newlyweds died in a hail of arrows.  The horse escaped, but forever afterwards, all natives believed the girl’s soul had entered the horse and they therefore shunned it and left it alone to roam the land. The region from this day on is called White Horse Plains.

  • The Governor of the Hudson Bay sent Henry Kelsey (1667-1724), an apprentice clerk, at age 23, and Thomas Savage to the Churchill River to build a trading post. While Thomas Savage was building the fort, Henry Kelsey and an Indian companion went out to publicize the post among the Indians. They penetrated the back country some 140 miles. Kelsey, in August of 1690, deserted the Hudson Bay Company because he could not stand the Company’s indifference towards the interior of the country.  He likely believed that the Hudson Bay Company was doomed due to its poor performance.  He took a Native wife, and the English assumed him to be the first Englishman to see the broad Canadian prairies.  He reported an abundance of wildlife and huge species of bear and bison (buffalo) on desert and barren ground; a wrong perception that would prevail in the English mind for a hundred and fifty years. Kelsey traveled with the Stone and the Naywatamee (probably the Atsina, often referred to as the Fall or Gros Ventre); both members of the Blackfoot confederation.  He traveled The Pas, across the Saskatchewan and Red Rivers and possibly as far as Touchwood Hills.  Some contend he made it to central Alberta and built a log cabin on the Red Deer River. However, his guide Alphonse Bouch (through Henry Stelfox and Bessie Swan) claims the Kelsey party did not reach central Alberta.  It is likely that Red Deer River, Saskatchewan is being confused with Red Deer River, Alberta in the story telling.  He would return to the H.B.C. by about 1692 and be accepted back into its employ. The Hudson Bay Company disapproved of cohabitation with the Natives and is reluctant to allow Henry Kelsey’s Cree wife in the Fort when he returned. It’s questionable if this can be claimed as an exploration of the H.B.C., as Kelsey was essentially a free trader. The English still would not authorize inland exploration but are quick to claim credit for Henry Kelsey’s unauthorized exploration.  This is a strange policy, considering that they would claim to own all these North West Territory lands.

1670 –By Royal Charter from the Imperial Crown dated May 2, 1670, His Majesty Charles II, King of England, incorporated certain petitioners into “The Governor and Company of Merchant Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay.” It assumed and granted this “Hudson’s Bay Company” a trading monopoly, setting out the area in which it could operate, known thereafter as “Rupert’s Land,” even though the land did not belong to him or to his country. The HBC charter purported to assert jurisdiction over a virtual subcontinent of all the land that drained into Hudson Bay, 1.5 million square miles, or the equivalent of 40% of modern Canada. They are given a Royal Charter by Charles II, giving it power of life and death over its subjects in Hudson Bay in order to maintain a navy, make war and a trade monopoly in the Bay forever. Medard Chouart des Groseilliers, (1618/21-1696), and Pierre Esprit Chouartdit Radisson, the founding fathers who made all this possible, being lower class, are declared not fit to have a share in the new Company. This English superiority towards non English peoples would dominate the Hudson Bay Company’s economic policy into the twentieth century, causing much suffering to future Canadians. The Hudson Bay ‘Adventurers of England’ conjure up images of great explorers to America. The Adventurers of England were however stay-at-home investors who adventured their money into Adventurers in the hope of making more. The Hudson Bay Company never encouraged farming near its post or started any settlements except Red River in 1812 until 1869.  They believe colonization and settlement distracted from the trade. The English gave the Governor and Company of Adventurers into Hudson Bay absolute power, an autocracy of life or death to all people in what they considered their domain, to pass their own laws and to enforce them.  No one is to invade, settle or trade in their domain without the consent of the Company; an absolute feudal policy. This, in effect, is a declaration of war, guised in their perverted formality of chivalry. This self-righteous notion of being gallant, courteous, and honourable with a readiness to help the weak, demanded their economic victim be regarded as simple in nature, primitive in culture and savage in religion. The First Nations unbeknownst to the English imperialistic shenanigans. 

1671 –The French made their first Treaty with the North West nations at Sault Ste. Marie, the furthest west the French had penetrated with a permanent settlement. The Sault was an important commercial centre, however, being the outlet to the Lake Superior fur trade. Kechenezuhyauh, head chief of the great Crane family, represented the Ojibway in the Treaty. The French envoy asked, in the name of the King, for permission to trade in their country, and for free passage to and from their villages. He asked that the fires of the French and Ojibway nations be made one and everlasting. The envoy told Kechenezuhyuah, “Every morning you will look towards the rising of the sun and you shall see the fire of your French father reflecting towards you, to warm you and your people. If you are in trouble, you, the Crane, must arise in the skies and cry with your farsounding voice, and I will hear you. . .”

1673 –A Royal decree by New France prohibited Coureurs des Bois (independent fur traders) from entering the forest for more than 24 hours without permission.  This only caused them to divert their trade to the English. The French are slow to understand that previous attempts of this nature only alienate the Canadians and are a direct cause of the establishment of the English in Hudson Bay. In 1676, King Louis XIV (1643–1715) acknowledges that his edict of 1676 is not being put into full effect.

The first official post, Moose Factory is established on the Southern Hub of James Bay. In 1679 Albany Fort is established, followed by Severn House in 1680.  In 1684 York Factory, named after the Duke of York, was constructed on the bank of the Hayes River.  Flooding forced the building to be rebuilt twice. Other posts are erected only at the mouths of major rivers flowing into the bay, except for Henley House, a small inland outpost built in 1743 on the Albany River, 200 km from the coast.

The Ojibwa and Ottawa along with the French controlled the fur trade.  The Cree and Assiniboine are forced to trade with them until the Hudson Bay Company opened their forts at James and Hudson Bay. 

In the early 19th century fur-trading was the main industry of Western Canada. The two companies had an intense competition over the trade. The first, the Hudson’s Bay Company was a London, England-based organization. The second, the North West Company was based in Montreal. Hudson’s Bay Company was distinctly English in its culture and flavour while the North West Company was a mix of French, Scottish and Indigenous cultures.

The Coureurs des Bois /Voyageurs of the North West Company were a highly mobile group of fur traders. They established temporary encampments in the forks region that later became Winnipeg. The Algonquian (Anishinaabe) rice farmers of the Red River region had been harvesting mahnomen (wild rice) for ages and their methods would remain unchanged even to modern times. Rice is becoming an important trade item in the fur trade.

Initially the Fur Trade was mutually beneficial. The Europeans depended upon Indigenous knowledge of the land and their labour; and provided manufactured goods to them. Such as for over 200 years the result was balanced trade relations.

The Métis(formally, Coureurs des Bois, now they were considered savages or Natives at this time period)had a good command of European and Indigenous languages and became intermediaries in the fur trade economy and exploration. The Métis description is derived by the French from the Ojibwa word Wissakodewinmi, which figuratively means half burnt woodsman: not quite a full-fledged woodsman. The Saulteaux describe the Métis as, “Those that came later.” The Cree called the Métis, Oteepaymsoowuk, which means their own boss, as distinct from French or English people. Métis is from the Latin word ‘miscere’; meaning to mix. 

The fur trade brought many changes to the First Nations:

  • Greater territorial wars and new war methods; and
  • Diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis and measles; and
  • The firewater; and
  • Missionaries brought Christianity; and
  • Original Peoples and Métis were faced with starvation due to over-hunting and trapping.

1680 – Some believe this is the time the Anishinaabe nation began to culturally split into a northern Ojibwa, Great Lakes Ojibwa and southern Ojibwa (Chippewa). Others contend this natural split is evident over the last century. The Ojibwa are still acting as the middlemen between the Cree and Assiniboine who are west of Lake Superior and the French of the Saint Lawrence. 

1682 – The first Hudson Bay Company headquarters on the Hudson Bay, Fort Nelson, was established at the mouth of the nearby Nelson River. During its first century, the depot operated by drawing First Nations traders to the post, rather than sending its own traders out into the field. Its position at the mouth of the Nelson allowed access by canoe from the watersheds of the Saskatchewan and Red Rivers.

1684 – The Cree and Assiniboine who had previously traded with the Saulteaux and Ottawa through the St. Lawrence River arrive at York Factory with three hundred canoes and seven hundred people to trade. The trade included three hundred muskets, ten thousand knives, hatchets, tobacco, kettles, blankets and other goods.

1688 – Jean Baptiste L. Franquelin’s map, published this year from reports of Coureurs des Bois and Métis, clearly indicates they had penetrated into north-western plains prior to this date.  Lac de Baude (Lake of the Woods), Lac des Assinibouels and Lac des Christinaux represent Lakes Winnipeg and Winnipegosis, (Manitoba),   Madeline Island, La Pointe (Wisconsin) and Isle de Tour (it later became known as St. Michel Island).  The map also lists Fort St. Antoine west of Lake Superior on the Mississippi River system.

  • The Hudson Bay Company built Fort Prince of Wales at the mouth of the Churchill River (Manitoba).

1689 – The Prairie people had their first encounter with an Englishman in the field by name of Henry Kelsey. He is after direct trade for the Hudson Bay Company but did not understand the trading customs that had developed over thousands of years. He assumed the failure to trade is because of some endless war like nature and their alliance with the French. The simple fact is that the trading ritual is as important if not more important than the actual trade itself. Trading is a time of gift giving, information exchange, celebration and then trade. The French had learned this at Tadoussac and the St. Lawrence and it is a basic standard with all the Algonquian (Anishinaabe) peoples.

1690 ­- West of Red River on the White Horse Plains a very swift horse is shunned by all peoples.  Legend says that it was exchanged for the daughter of an Assiniboine by one of two suitors (Dakota and a Cree from WaskwiSipihk?) of different bands.  The rejected Dakota suitor attacks the wedding feast; the bride sped away on the white horse with her Cree husband on another slower horse.  It is said she had to restrain her horse to the slower speed of her husband and both newlyweds died in a hail of arrows.  The horse escaped, but forever afterwards, all natives believed the girl’s soul had entered the horse and they therefore shunned it and left it alone to roam the land. The region from this day on is called White Horse Plains.

  • The Governor of the Hudson Bay sent Henry Kelsey (1667-1724), an apprentice clerk, at age 23, and Thomas Savage to the Churchill River to build a trading post. While Thomas Savage was building the fort, Henry Kelsey and an Indian companion went out to publicize the post among the Indians. They penetrated the back country some 140 miles. Kelsey, in August of 1690, deserted the Hudson Bay Company because he could not stand the Company’s indifference towards the interior of the country.  He likely believed that the Hudson Bay Company was doomed due to its poor performance.  He took a Native wife, and the English assumed him to be the first Englishman to see the broad Canadian prairies.  He reported an abundance of wildlife and huge species of bear and bison (buffalo) on desert and barren ground; a wrong perception that would prevail in the English mind for a hundred and fifty years. Kelsey traveled with the Stone and the Naywatamee (probably the Atsina, often referred to as the Fall or Gros Ventre); both members of the Blackfoot confederation.  He traveled The Pas, across the Saskatchewan and Red Rivers and possibly as far as Touchwood Hills.  Some contend he made it to central Alberta and built a log cabin on the Red Deer River. However, his guide Alphonse Bouch (through Henry Stelfox and Bessie Swan) claims the Kelsey party did not reach central Alberta.  It is likely that Red Deer River, Saskatchewan is being confused with Red Deer River, Alberta in the story telling.  He would return to the H.B.C. by about 1692 and be accepted back into its employ. The Hudson Bay Company disapproved of cohabitation with the Natives and is reluctant to allow Henry Kelsey’s Cree wife in the Fort when he returned. It’s questionable if this can be claimed as an exploration of the H.B.C., as Kelsey was essentially a free trader. The English still would not authorize inland exploration but are quick to claim credit for Henry Kelsey’s unauthorized exploration.  This is a strange policy, considering that they would claim to own all these North West Territory lands.

[Throughout 1700’sInfectious diseases such as Smallpox had a devastating toll on the Indian population in Canada. Waves throughout the century of epidemics decimated First Nations to an estimated 95% of the population that did cripple their economies, did destroy their societies, and did leave haunting “Ghost camps’ in its wake. In 1911, at its lowest point, there were only 103,661 Indians in Canada. Today, there is approximately 1.6 million Canadians of Indigenous descent. The Indigenous population today has the highest birthrate of any group in Canada.]

1700 –The Algonquian had slowly reoccupied the lands of Huron, Petun (Tobacco) and Neutral around Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. The French began calling these new people Ojibwa. These people who are south of the lakes are in a mixture of all former tribes who are taken in by the Ojibwa during the great Iroquois purge. Some contend the Ojibwa ‘Feast of the Dead’ is being replaced by the Midewiwin ceremony at this time. The origin of the Grand Medicine Society began when disease, distress and death entered the land of the People. The Great Spirit spoke to his people saying, there is not a flower that buds, however small, that is not for some wise purpose, there is not a blade of grass, however insignificant, that the Ojibwa does not require.  Learning this, and acting in accordance with these truths, will work out your own good, and will please the Great Spirit.  The Midewiwin and its Clan governance would become involved in all future negotiations with the People and Europeans.

[Throughout 1700’s Infectious diseases such as Smallpox had a devastating toll on the Indian population in Canada. Waves throughout the century of epidemics decimated First Nations to an estimated 95% of the population that did cripple their economies, did destroy their societies, and did leave haunting “Ghost camps’ in its wake. In 1911, at its lowest point, there were only 103,661 Indians in Canada. Today, there is approximately 1.6 million Canadians of Indigenous descent. The Indigenous population today has the highest birthrate of any group in Canada.]

  • Some would have us believe that bannock was an addition to the Native cuisine that originated from the Scots in Red River after 1812.  Wheat was grown in Fort Detroit this year and bannock wouldn’t be far behind. Others suggest it predates this time and was used by the voyagers but didn’t come into large use until it was grown in the Old North West. Some suggest the word originated with the Old English ‘bannuc’ meaning morsel or little bit. The French introduced bannock into the voyager trade using wheat instead of oatmeal cakes that the Scottish used. Some writers of the Scottish cakes suggest they were not fit for human consumption.
  • A large group of Saulteaux were reported to have arrived in the area of Lake Winnipeg (The lake is called by the Ojibway WinnebeaSaugiegun, or Dirty Water Lake), making friendly arrangements with the Cree here to live together. Subsequently, the Cree moved further westward. As the Cree moved out, the Chippewa (Anishnaabe) territory extended further westward into the Portage la Prairie area and northwards up Lake Manitoba. As the French traders moved west, the Saulteaux (Anishnaabe) moved with them, initially employed as hunters for the posts.

1701 – TheGreat Peace of Montreal was a peace treaty between New France and 39Indigenous Nations of North America. It was signed on August 4, 1701, by Louis-Hector de Callière, governor of New France, and 1200 representatives of 39 Indigenous Nations of the North East of North America, that brought years of economic harmony and wealth, mutual respect and a commitment by the French – alone among the European colonists of North America – not to exterminate or enslave Indigenous peoples. Intermarriages with the Indians were not forbidden in New France. The Chiefs signed with doodemic marks -images of animals and birds of their clans. Historians believe that it was at this time that modern Canada begins.

[Over 70 historical treaties negotiated with First Nations between 1701 and 1923 in Canada.]

1702 – M. le Chevalier de Beaurain in Louisiana recorded based on Indian information that the Assiniboine (Sioux) People in Canada shortly after the arrival of the Hudson Bay Company that the Cree had obtained guns forcing the Cree to align with them thereby becoming enemies with the Sioux. This in itself is not that interesting but the fact that news had traveled from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is significant.  The Assiniboine were originally a branch of the Dakota Sioux confederacy, but they separated and lived by themselves, inhabiting the country along the AssiniboineRiver. They also received the name Stony Indians from using heated stones to cook their food. The HBC called them Semi-Poets in 1749. 

1713 – The Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 ended the ten year war by recognizing the British possession of the Northern Bay (Hudson Bay), Acadia and Newfoundland.  The English Government gave the Hudson Bay Company the ownership and sole right to trade over a large territory of Canada and the United States. They called the region Rupert’s Land, which embraced the entire region, draining into the Hudson Bay. The term “Native” would be reference to the Natives of Rupert’s Land. They had no idea of the vastness of the Territory involved, and this claim is outrageous from any standard. For more than a century the Hudson Bay Company would be content to remain on the coast, conducting little exploration. From an Indigenous perspective, this is a ludicrous claim with no basis of authority, neither by right nor conquest nor exploration nor settlement. Future events would confirm the English had no ownership claim to these territories. The Hudson Bay Company was allowed to trade in the Northern Bay without interference from the French Government. This would not stop the French Canadians, Coureurs des Bois from cutting off the flow of furs to the Northern Bay, as they had since the 1680’s.

  • As the French moved west, the Saulteaux moved with them, initially employed as hunters for the posts.

1717 – Many Ojibwa from Sault Ste Marie, Grand Portage and La Pointe marched against the Dakotas to secure Sandy Lake (Kahmetahwungaguma or lake of the sandy waters). It is from SandyLake the Ojibwa secured Leech, Winnipeg, Cass, Red, Gull and CrowWingLakes for their fur trade.  The Ojibwa believe the Gros Ventres or Giauethininewug (men of olden times) occupied this region before the Dakota. The Gros Ventres tradition suggests they once lived on the mouth of the Savannah River near Sandy Lake. The Gros Ventre are noted to be culturally aligned with the Mandans.

1725 – The Algonquian (Anishinaabe) is struggling with the foreign European idea of a few acting for a whole people -the concept of Kings/Chiefs (European concept of hierarchy class system). In the Indigenous cultures every person is expected to speak for themselves and important matters affecting the whole tribe required extensive debate in General Council. The English are insisting on written Treaties that they considered are to be honoured in perpetuity. The Indigenous Peoples consider Treaties as covenants between groups of individuals that did not have to be written and far from being permanent are rituals requiring renewal from time to time with appropriate gift exchanges playing an essential part. The Indigenous tradition is a dynamic evergreen rebirth and renewal process of collaboration. The seasonal or annual renewal ritual is more important than the Treaty itself. In this they are encouraged by the French who signed no written Treaties with their Algonquian allies. Giving one’s word under God was the custom. The English in law spoke of perpetuity for their own rights but acted in accord with their covetous desires where others’ rights are concerned.

1729 – The Lake of the Woods Cree carried gifts to the Ojibwa of La Pointe to affect a peace treaty and request an alliance against the Dakota who are also in this area.

1730 – The Hudson Bay Company reported the first Ojibwa traders at their forts on the Hudson Bay. The Ojibwa had joined the Kenisteno(Cree) and Assiniboine on their northern trade journey to Hudson Bay. The Assiniboine had been trading many years with the English.

1730 La Vérendrye questioned the Indians who came to trade. Auchagah, aCree guide, made a map of the canoe routes between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg based on his and other Cree experience.

1734 – Although Treaty-making was a well-known custom among the First Nations, the first Treaty in the area with Europeans was signed between the French and the Dakota — a Treaty of Peace, Friendship, and Trade between France (La Vérendry) and the Dakota Nation at Northwest Angle in what is now the Treaty Nº3 area. The Treaty was approved by the King of France.

  • La Verendryes’s son Pierre, explorer and fur trader, established Fort Maurepas on a site approximately 12 -14 miles upstream from the mouth of the Red River. Fort Maurepas is important historically as being the first post in that area trying to capture the fur trade and make allies of the local natives which included, Cree, Assiniboine, Ojibwa, Ottawa, Métis, and other traders.LaVérendrye is said to be the first European to see what Winnipeg is now (Winniopegh: winnebea, dirty water, or weenaugumma, nearly the same meaning.).
  • The Red River is shown on early maps as the “Lower Red River”, while the Assiniboine was called the “Upper Red River”. Once the name Assiniboine was established, the “Upper Red River” referred to the Red River above or south of Pembina. The Red rises in Ottertail Lake, Minnesota. At Fort Abercrombie it is joined by the Cheyenne River, and from thence flows north to receive the Assiniboine, and then on to Lake Winnipeg. Its length is 665 miles, 525 of which are in the U.S. In its course of 140 miles in Canada, it drains about 10,000 square miles. It is navigable for 200 miles.
  • Pembina comes from the Ojibway word “Nebeninnahnesebee”, meaning the High Cranberry [Craneberry] River which flows into the Red River at the place now called Pembina. The large red edible berries are really iouxviburnum, and only resemble cranberry.
  • The Assiniboine River was also known as the Stone Indian River, as well as the “Upper Red River”. In the time of La Verendrye it was called “St. Charles” and “Rivière des Assiniboels.” It rises near the North Saskatchewan, having as its principal tributary the Qu’Appelle, or “Who Calls? River”, and also as the “Little Souris”. After traversing 500 miles from its source, it joins the Red. It drains 66,000 sq. miles of territory, and is navigable for about 600 miles west of the city of Winnipeg.
  • The original name of the lake was “Minitobow”, which in the Assiniboine language means “Lake of the Prairies”. It was first written by LaVerendrye. On one of Peter Pond’s maps of 1785, the name is written as “Lake Minnitopa”. On another, it is “Lake Minnetopar”. Pond got the name from the Assiniboines on Lake Dauphin where he traded in 1775-76. In 1796, the modern spelling of “Lake Manitoba” appears on Arrowsmith’s map — and then disappears for 75 years. Then a linguistic coincidence occured — when the Ojibway arrived in the 1730s, they applied the name “Manitou-bau”, meaning the Strait/Narrows of the Spirits, perhaps because of the strange sounds emitting from the limestone caves on an island as the winds and waters echo in them. The Cree name is “Manitou-waabau”, meaning Where the Spirit Sits.
  • It was then that La Vérendrye learned from the Assiniboines and Cree of a strange people who lived in large villages on a great river to the southwest with whom they traded corn. They led La Verendrye to believe the strangers — who were called the Mandans — were a tall, bearded fair-skinned people who built substantial forts and houses like the French. The Mandans had originally lived in the southern branches of the Red River, but were driven to the Missouri by the Assiniboine, Cree and Saulteaux, that were armed by the French at a much earlier date (1697?). [Myth today is that the Mandans descended from the lost Viking colony of the east coast? They were known to have red hair.]

1736 – The Cree and Assiniboine encouraged the French to build a trading post at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red River to secure their southern limits of their territories.  It would also limit the northward expansion of the Dakota Sioux and destroy the French/Dakota alliance.

  • La Vérendrye’s eldest son built a fort at the junction of the Redand AssiniboineRivers, the site of a favourite First Nation gathering encampment “The Gathering Place.” He built the first fur trade FortRouge at what he called La Fourche, The Forks.  This particular post at the Forks wasoccupied only for a brief time.
  • In June, the post’s Jesuit chaplain, Auneau, one of La Vérendrye’s sons, and a party of voyageurs set out for Michimillimackinac. While camped on an island near the North West Angle, they were set upon by a party of Sioux. All 21 persons were killed. The French and the Dakota Treaty was broken.It was this event which moved the French policy to encourage the Ojibway to expel the Sioux from the Lake Superior and Upper Mississippi area.

1740 – The Hudson Bay Company, London Office, issued a directive not to allow development outside the forts/factories, including agriculture. Some employees disobey the directive and plant small gardens. They are ordered to stop that illegal practice.

1747 – James Isham, d-1761, clerk writer, a bigamist of the Hudson Bay Company, attributed the drop in marten pelts, from 3,000 last year to 300 this year, to those Canadian Peddlers (Voyagers/Coureurs des Bois/Metis), on the Saskatchewan River. The Canadian Peddlersare capable of working in a canoe twenty hours out of every twenty-four, for two or three weeks at a time. During their paddling, they smoke almost continually and sing the songs which have been passed down from their fathers and grandfathers. They rest from five to ten minutes every two hours when they refill their pipes, and it is more common for them to describe distance in terms of so many pipes than in any other way.

1750 – The Red River (Coureurs des Bois/Metis/Cree/Assiniboine/Saulteaux) settlement, about this time, is rapidly becoming the new hub of the North West Territories fur trade and would begin the transition to become a primary pemmican supplier. Pemmican is a Cree word compounded of pimii (fat) and kan (prepared). Bison (buffalo) meat was beaten and mixed with fat and cranberries, and then sewn as a hard ball into a pemmican bag made of skin. It lasted forever and was even made out of deer or moose. To this point wild rice, corn and maple syrup is the staple crops being cultivated. Pemmican, being an ideal food supply, would discourage most cultivation in the North West Territories. La Pointe, Ojibwa Country (Madeleine Island, Wisconsin) is the hub of the West fur trade and much of the North West Territories. Green Bay, New France (Wisconsin), basically controlled the south.  Fort Detroit, New France (Michigan), Mackinac, New France (Michigan) and Sault Ste Marie, New France (Michigan/Ontario) remain as supply bases for men and goods. Free trade and independence are becoming entrenched, as the ‘AssinipovalMétis‘ had the option of trading with the Hudson Bay Company to the north or with the French to the south east. The Hudson Bay Company had, for eighty years, slept at the edge of the frozen sea, showing no desire to explore the interior of a continent. As a result, the ‘Assinipoval Métis’ prefer to trade with the more adventurous French.

  • Indian art, as reflected in clothing, suggests the Métis, Cree, and Ojibwa of Lake Nipigon to Red River region are already culturally mixed. The amalgamation is reflected in their language and in their art. It is noteworthy that the Hudson Bay Cree Mixed bloods are not acknowledged or recorded, and are only accepted by the Indian culture.The Cree considered the Métis children as having superior physical attributes that make them better hunters and bolder warriors.The Indians considered the Métis their children, so this feeling is understandable: we all hope that our children will be better than us. It is natural to assume that the Métis would have a great affinity to their brothersthe Ojibwa and French Métis. Being culturally rejected by the British, it is doubtful they value added to the Métis ethnicity until after 1800. This also sheds light on why the Métis penetration into the North West was bloodless vs. the bloody penetration by the Americans. Only after the British penetrated the North West did the blood begin to flow.  
  • Jacques LeGardeur of Saint Pierre (1701-1755) departs Montreal, Quebec, to continue the search for the Western Sea. LeGardeur is commissioned February 27, to find the Western Sea- being judged the one who possesses the most information regarding all those countries. He passed Michilimackinac, New France (Michigan), on July 12, and he arrived at Fort La Reine (Portage la Prairie, Manitoba) in the autumn, where he stayed for two years. His second in command was Joseph Claude Boucher, son Jean Baptiste Boucher, Sieur de Niverville and other voyageurs are: Alexandre Bissonnet (guide), Laurent Denige, Joseph Paul Bissonett, Augustin Charbonneau, Louis Croquehoye, Francois Lacombe, Amable Dyon, Paul Parisien, Bazil Roel Lirlande, Antoine Goulet, Baptiste Masson, Louis Leclerc, PiereDeslorier. He explored Red River, Lake Winnipeg, North West Territories (Manitoba) and the Lake of the Woods region (Ontario).  His Western Explorations were from 1750-1753. LeGardeur complained that Jean Baptiste De La Morinie is a useless missionary who doesn’t even have mathematical instruments. Jacques LeGardeur de Saint Pierre and the Chevalier Boucher de Niverville exercised control over the North Western posts until 1753. He had little success, as he didn’t understand Indigenous culture of gift giving. Father La Morinerie is assigned to Fort La Reine and departed 1751, confessing his inability to make converts among the Indigenous peoples of the West. St. Pierre built a fort on the north bank of the Red and Assiniboine River and called it St. Pierre’s Fort (Manitoba).
  • Indian Trust Fund by the Crown started with and held by the British Army’s Department of Indian Affairs located in England. 50% of the natural resources that came out of the British North America went into these Indian Trust.

1751 – On 12 July, a band of Métis buffalo hunters from Saint Francois-Xavier on the Assiniboine River in the Red River Settlement encountered and on 13 and 14 July fought and defeated hundreds of the boldest Sioux fighters on the first slope of the Grand Coteau of the Missouri southeast of Minot in what is now North Dakota. The total number of Metis persons was thirteen hundred led by Jean Baptiste Falcon against two thousand Sioux warriors led by the Cut Head (Pabaksa) Yanktonai, Dakota, led by Chief Medicine (Sacred) Bear. This was the most formidable, as it was the last of the encounters between the buffalo hunters of Red River and the Sioux of the American plains.

  • Ben Franklin studied the Iroquois Confederacy and used it as model for the future U.S. Constitution. Democracy was long established and functioning prior to U.S. independence in the Americas.

1753 – The Mohawk were upset with Anglo-American settlers who started occupying confederacy lands without permission, and they decided to break the Covenant Chain. A year later, in Albany, colonial leaders made affirmative peace efforts, offered gifts, and peace was restored.

1757 –The Halifax Treaty with Britain guaranteed First Nations rights to trade, fish and hunt, while receiving additional supplies from the Crown in the form of food, ammunition and provisions. From a European standpoint, the Treaties assured that the First Nations, who had a closer relationship to the French, had solidified their friendship with the English just as much (if not more) as the French.

1759 – On 13 September 1759, following a three-month siege of Québec, General James Wolfe defeated the French forces at the Plains of Abraham outside the city. The French staged a counter offensive in the spring of 1760 with some success but failed to retake Québec due to a lack of naval support. French forces retreated to Montréal, where on 8 September they surrendered in the face of overwhelming British numerical superiority. The victorious British Crown now controlled all of eastern North America. This defeat has serious ramifications in Canada to this day, as the Quebec sovereignty movement continues to see this as their “Nation’s” defining moment.  Even though 80% of the First Nations supported the French, the tribes of the Great Lakes regions, such as the Ottawas, Ojibwas, Potawatomis, and Hurons mostly remained neutral. They had long been allied with French habitants, with whom they lived, traded, and intermarried. Later the Great Lakes Nations were alarmed to learn that they were told that they are under British sovereignty after the French loss of North America. The First Nations had liked the French; they married into the local tribal community; they were interested mostly in trading, not in bringing in settlers and taking over the land; they would pay yearly tribute in goods and gifts. They were reliable in bringing in trading goods at a decent price. All that changed when the French (who had been defeated by the British) had to abandon their trading posts on the Great Lakes to the English.

  • Bury the Hatchet” This phrase “to make peace” was used in 1759 by the Shawnee orator Missiweakiwa when it became obvious that the French war effort during the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War) was collapsing.The Shawnees had sided with the French against the English, but now the Shawnee would “bury the bloody hatchet into the ground” with the English.
  • The English are upsetting the First Nations people, because:
  • They cut off the annual tribute of gifts and trade goods which people had come to rely on;
  • They prefer to trade with more whiskey (Fire Water);
  • they jumped up the price on new trade goods;
  • they frowned and outlawed on mixing with, or marrying into, the native community;
  • they were intent on bringing in settlers, not traders, to occupy the new lands;
  • and there was also a new harshness in the manner that accompanied the new Governor-General to North America, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, who actually pronounced that extermination of the Indigenous population was the best policy.

When a British garrison took possession of Fort Detroit from the French in 1760, local Tribes cautioned them that “this country was given by God to the Indians.”

1763 – A Native medicine man Neolin, known as “the Delaware Prophet,” began urging a return to their traditional Native roots. He wanted the First Nations to reject the ways of the whites and the whiskey trade that had caused such havoc. The time had come to drive the “red-coated dogs” from the region. The Prophet’s message was picked up by the Ottawa War Chief Pontiac (1720? – 1769), Pontiac’s father was Odawa and his mother was Ojibway. He was probably born in northern Ohio. He instructed in the Mediwiwin society. He was most prominent of the many native leaders in the conflict and soon became both a rallying cry and crusade. ThePontiac’s Rebellion was a war launched in the spring by an Anishinaabe alliance (Three Fires Confederacy) that included Ojibway, Ottawa and Potawatomi primarily from the Great Lakes region, the Illinois Country, and Ohio Country who were dissatisfied with British policies in the Great Lakes region after the British victory in the French and Indian War (1754–1763). Warriors from numerous tribes joined the uprising in an effort to drive British soldiers and settlers out of the region. The war began in May 1763 when Native Americans, offended by the policies of British General Jeffrey Amherst, attacked a number of British forts and settlements. The tribes captured ten British forts and eight forts were destroyed (7 in one day) and laid siege to the British garrison at Detroit and Fort Pitt. An estimate 2,000 British soldiers and colonists were killed or captured, with many more fleeing the region. Hostilities came to an end after British army peace expeditions in 1764 led to peace negotiations over the next two years. At the peace talks, Pontiac made it clear that the British would be considered only tenants on Native lands, not owners. They could occupy trading posts, but that was all. The Natives uprising were unable to drive away all the British, but shook the British authorities to the core and prompted the British government to modify the policies that had provoked the conflict.

  • The Royal Proclamation of 1763. This document which was issued by King George III of Britain sought to prevent further racial violence, explicitly recognizes First Nations sovereignty and title in North America; First Nations land ownership and authority are recognized by the British Crown. It states that only the Crown, in a public meeting, could acquire lands from First Nations thus, the Crown became the only agency with the right to negotiate land transfers from First Nations to the government, and then to the colonists. The Proclamation established British protection over unsettled land belonging to Indian tribes and recognized Indian title to lands not already colonized. By forbidding colonists (and other European Nations) from trespassing on Native lands, the British government hoped to avoid more conflicts like Pontiac’s Rebellion. The “Indian Nations” were to govern the Proclamation Territory (Also, known on the maps at the time as the Anishinaabe Territory) under their own laws. The proclamation was largely ignored by Settlers of the Thirteen Colonies, in particular in settlements already established in the prohibited area, but its very existence created a large amount of resentment among the British colonists that it would eventually lead to the Independence of the United States of America.

In Canada, the Proclamation is considered to be one of the strongest guarantees of First Nations’ land rights. Pre-existing land ownership was acknowledged and is a very important legal concept today. The Royal Proclamation describes the basis for the historical and modern day Treaties. It defines Canada’s special relationship with First Nations people and sets out the basis in law for First Nations land title and other rights. And though it is not part of Canada’s current Constitution, the Proclamation is referred to specifically in Section 25 of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Proclamation was referred to by Justice Gwynne in St. Catharine’s Milling Case of 1888 as the “Indian Bill of Rights,” it is often referred to since then as an “Indian Magna Carta (Indian Charter),” and has been held by the courts to have “the force of a statute which has been never repealed”, which is to say, it is still in effect and it’s going to be part of our legal landscape for a long time to come.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 recognized that:

  • A Nation-to-Nation relationship between the Crown and First Nations
  • It presents the First Nations in terms of allies, rather than as British subjects
  • First Nations people lived on their traditional lands and are self-governing Nations
  • Interest in those lands belonged to Nations, not individuals (Collective Rights)
  • Only the Crown could buy or accept First Nations lands
  • The Crown generally required an agreement to obtain lands from First Nations people
  • Guarantees of First Nations sovereignty and their way of life are not to be interfered with
  • First Nations people were under the Crown’s protection
  • And, it established a foundation for all future land negotiations between First Nations and the Crown and their Governments.

The Royal Proclamation along with the subsequent Treaty of Niagara, provide for an argument that “discredits the claims of the Crown to exercise sovereignty over First Nations” and affirms Indigenous “powers of self-determination in, among other things, allocating lands through treaties.” Further so, the Royal Proclamation outlined a policy in which to protect Indigenous rights and in doing so, recognized these rights existed.

In Canada, the Proclamation is the basis of our understanding of legal nature of Indian title and is the historical root of the treaty process and the building foundations of Canada.

“The Royal Proclamation,” writes historian Colin Calloway, “reflected the notion that segregation not interaction [French] should [now] characterize Indian-white relations.”

It was at the height of the Pontiac Rebellion that British Lord, General Jeffrey Amherst secured his place in history with the deliberate introduction of the first act of modern biological warfare (infected smallpox blankets, etc.) in North America on First Nation peoples, including against his allies, “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” An officer, stationed at Fort Pitt, presented to Native leaders with a “gift” of blankets and handkerchiefs taken from a smallpox hospital which triggered an epidemic

  • The Royal Proclamation. This document which was issued by King George III of Britainsought to prevent further racial violence,explicitly recognizes aboriginal title; aboriginal land ownership and authority are recognized by the Crown as continuing under British sovereignty. It states that only the Crown could acquire lands from First Nations and only by treaty with the Crown in a public meeting. The Proclamation established British protection over unsettled land belonging to Indian tribes and recognized Indian title to lands not already colonized. By forbidding colonists from trespassing on Native lands, the British government hoped to avoid more conflicts like Pontiac’s Rebellion.

The Proclamation is considered to be one of the strongest guarantees of First Nations’ land rights. Pre-existing land ownership was acknowledged and is a very important legal concept today. The Royal Proclamation describes the basis for the historical and modern day treaties. It defines Canada’s special relationship with Aboriginal people and sets out the basis in law for Aboriginal land ownership and other rights.And though it is not part of Canada’s current Constitution, the Proclamation is referred to specifically in Section 25 of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Proclamation was referred to by Justice Gwynne in St. Catharine’s Milling as the “Indian Bill of Rights,”it is often referred to since then as an “Indian Magna Carta,” which is to say, it’s going to be part of our legal landscape for a long time to come.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 recognized that:

  • Aboriginal people lived on traditional lands
  • Interest in those lands belonged to groups and nations, not individuals
  • Only the Crown could buy or accept Aboriginal lands
  • The Crown generally required an agreement to obtain lands from Aboriginal people
  • Aboriginal people were under the Crown’s protection

 “The Royal Proclamation,” writes historian Colin Calloway, “reflected the notion that segregation not interaction should [now] characterize Indian-white relations.”

  • It was at the height of the Pontiac Rebellion that British Lord, General Jeffrey Amherst secured his place in history with the deliberate introduction of the first act of modern biological warfare (infected smallpox blankets, etc.) in North America on First Nation peoples, including against his allies, “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” An officer, stationed at Fort Pitt, presented to Native leaders with a “gift” of blankets and handkerchiefs taken from a smallpox hospital which triggered an epidemic. Infectious diseases such as smallpox had a devastating toll on the Indigenous population in Canada. Waves of epidemics decimated Indigenous Nations to an estimated 95% of the population that did cripple their economies, did destroy their societies, and did leave haunting “Ghost camps’ in its wake. In 1911, at its lowest point, there were only 103,661 Indians in Canada. Today, there is approximately 1.6 Million Canadians of Indigenous descent. The Indigenous population today has the highest birthrate of any group in Canada.

1764 The Treaty of Niagara (The British/Western Great Lakes Confederacy Convenant Chain Wampum Belt). In July, Sir William Johnson met for several days with more than 2,000 Anishinaabe Chiefs and warriors at Niagara Falls, with ‘representative nations as far east as Nova Scotia, and as far west as Mississippi, and as far north as Hudson Bay.’ It was also possible that representatives from even further afield participated in the Treaty as some records indicated the Cree and Lakota Nations were also present at this event. The result – an alliance of friendship between the First Nations and the British, sealed by the delivery of 2 Wampum Belts (Belt of Peace) to each party. Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs, assured them he was not interested in stealing their land. 

“My children, I clothe your land, you see that Wampum before me, the body of my words, in this the spirit of my words shall remain, it shall never be removed, this will be your Mat the eastern Corner of which I myself will occupy, the Indians being my adopted children their life shall never sink in poverty.” (The mat refers to the east side of the country of the Anishinaabe)

And the response,

“Englishman, although you have conquered the French you have not yet conquered us! We are not your slaves. These lakes, these woods and mountains were left to us by our ancestors. They are our inheritance; and we will part with them to none. Your nation supposes that we, like the white people, cannot live without bread, and pork and beef! But, you ought to know, that He, the Great Spirit and Master of Life, has provided food for us, in these spacious lakes, and on these woody mountain… You have ventured your life among us, in the expectation that we should not molest you. You do not come armed, with an intention to make war, you come in peace, to trade with us, to supply us with necessities, of which we are in much want. We shall regard you therefore as a brother; and you may sleep in tranquilly, without fear of the Chipeways. As token of our friendship we present you with this pipe, to smoke.” – The Ojibway Chief Minavavana, an Ojibwa Chief from west of Manitoulin at Michilimackinac, allied with Pontiac, in an address to the British 1764

  • The 24 Nations belt represents the 24 Anishinaabe Nations pulling a boat laden with presents across the ocean to supply the First Nations with the necessities of life. The Two Row Treaty of Niagara Belts, and the promises they represent, are the basis of the British Anishinaabe Treaty Alliance. The British began to instituted the exchange and giving of gifts each year to the First Nations to recognize and affirm their alliance with them. Another Treaty was signed at Detroit the same year, with the doodem marks of several Chiefs.
  • The First Nations regarded the agreement, represented by the Proclamation and the Two Row Wampum Belts of the Treaty of Niagara, as one that affirmed their powers of self-determination in, among other things, allocating and sharing land. This agreement, at the start of the formal relationship between the British and the First Nations of Canada, demonstrates the foundation-building principle of peace, friendship, and respect agreed to between the parties. That promise was crucial factor in the War of 1812 when the American invaders were beaten back by British soldiers bolstered by such fearless warriors as Tecumseh – whose Shawnee Nation had been among the 24 represented at Niagara. The American Revolution a few years later wiped out the British promise to reserve American lands for the First Nations, but in Canada, the Royal Proclamation became the basis of the Treaty process that still exist today.

1767 – With the cession of Canada by the French, Britain gained control over most French territory in North America, giving the Hudson’s Bay Company renewed security over their monopoly.

1774 – The site, about three leagues below St. Andrews Rapids and shown as Riviere des Morts onearly maps, is an ancient gathering place of the Assiniboines. It was given that name because here a large camp of Assiniboine, Cree, and Saulteaux were killed by the Sioux.Two or three leagues up river from there was a clear spot where Joseph Frobisher, whocame into the area in 1774 or earlier, established his temporary free-trader’s fort as thefirst English fort or post on the Red River after the French. Frobisher’s Fort is also knownas Red River Fort. (See John McDonnell’s early account, The Red River.)

1775 – Cumberland House Inland Post established. The second inland Hudson’s Bay Company post brought traders into North West territory.

1780 – The smallpox seizing the natives and sweeping off three-fourths of them compelled them to lay aside their intention of “cutting off all the white men in the interior country.” The virulent smallpox spread throughout Indian country, even to the shores of Hudson Bay. “The great scourge of smallpox which raged throughout the west and north from 1780 to 1782 . . . was a disaster which changed the whole history of the Western Indians.” Estimates are that 75% of the population was destroyed by the plague. As late as 1815, there were reports of the bleached bones “Ghost Villages” of the victims of this terrible epidemic in great numbers at several points.

  • How the smallpox came to the Great Kenisteno (Cree) village at Dead River (known today as Netley Creek) by the Red River: “A war party of Kenistenos, Assineboines, and Ojibways, was once formed at the great Kenisteno village, which was at the time located on Dead River, near its outlet into the Red River of the North. They proceeded westward to the waters of the Ke-che-pe-gan-o, or Missouri River, till they came to a large village of the Gi-aucth-in-ne-wug (Gros Ventres), which they surrounded and attacked. Though some cause which they could not at first account foe, the resistance made to their attack was feeble. This they soon overcame, and the warriors rushing forward to secure their scalps, discovered the lodges filled with dead bodies, and they could not withstand the stench arising therefrom. The party retreated, after securing the scalps of those whom they killed, among which was the scalp of an old man who must have been a giant in size, as his scalp is said to have been as large as a beaver skin. On their return home, for the five successive nights; this scalp, which had been attached to a short stick being planted erect in the ground, was found in the morning to lean towards the west. This simple occurrence aroused the superstitious fears of the party, and when, on the fourth day, one of their number died, they threw away the fearful scalp, and proceeded homeward with quickened speed. Every day, however, their numbers decreased, as they fell sick and died. Out of the party, which must have numbered a considerable body of warriors, but four survived to return home to their village at Dead River.  They brought with them the fatal disease that soon depopulated this great village, which is said to covered a large extent of ground, and the circumstance of the great mortality which ensued on this occasion at this spot, in the ranks of the Kenisteno and Assineboine, has given the river the name it now bears Ne-bo, or Dead River. … The loss of lives occasioned by this disease in the tribes of the allied Kenistenos and Assineboines, amounted to several thousands.” (History of the Ojibway Nation, William W. Warren, 1853)
  • It was after this tragedy that the Cree and Assiniboine concluded an alliance with Ojibway newcomers known to the French as “Saulteaux” from their origins at Sault St. Marie, but who actually were arriving from the Red Lake area of Minnesota. The purpose of the alliance was for the residents to gain allies against the Dakotas to the south. Peguisdescribed the Ojibway migration, the smallpox, and the alliance in an interview with the historian Donald Gunn in 1860: “About the year 1780, smallpox overtook [the Cree and Assiniboine] and decimated them fearfully. Thereafter, Peguis and the Saulteaux left the forest of the Red Lake and entered the Plains of Red River . . . sometime in between the years 1790 and 1795.” [John Tanner’s account (below) indicates the Ojibway — at least those from the Sault Ste. Marie area — were already rather well established in the area at this time.] “The Saulteaux found the Assiniboines and the Crees encamped in the Pembina Mountains, where they were received in the most friendly manner, and after smoking and feasting for two or three days, the children of the forest were formally invited to dwell on the Plains, to eat out of the same dish, to warm themselves at the same fire, and to make common cause with them against their enemies the Sioux, and were told that the country to which they were invited was extensive and abounded in buffalo, moose, and deer, and that it had become to them a land of death — that whenever they turned their steps they trod on the unburied bones of their kindred. . .” (Source: The Nor’Wester, April 28, 1860.)
  • The Ojibway settlement at the junction of Rat Creek and the White Mud River near the end of the twelve-mile portage placed them in a strategic location which would provide them with work, and put the main highway of the North West at their front door. Subsequently, the Plains Cree moved further westward. As the Cree moved out, the Chippewa (Anishinaabe) territory extended further westward into the Portage la Prairie area and northwards up Lake Manitoba. As the French traders moved west, the Saulteaux also moved with them, initially employed as hunters and middlemen for the posts.

1783 British Betrayal of the Crown’s Indian Allies in the Treaty of Paris(1783). While many Indians tried to avoid getting mired in the civil war that swept over North America after 1776, many others appreciated that a victory for the British Crown would be less immediately menacing for the First Nations than a victory for the frustrated forces of western expansionism that drove the American Revolution forward into Indian territories. Those Mohawk who followed Joseph Brant were especially active allies of the British in the American Revolution. In spite of the important Indian role in the war effort, however, the diplomats who redrew the map of North America in 1783 paid no heed to the heritage of Crown Treaties with the First Nations of North America. In the TREATY OF PARIS, 1783 a new international border was created along the Great Lakes that completely ignored both the Covenant Chain and the Treaty of Fort Stanwix. Some historical experts would consider that this British betrayal is the historical turning point of Indigenous dominance of North America. This would mark several betrayals of the British Crown.

1790- When the Red Lake Ojibway/Chippewa came to Pembina to trade in 1790, theyfound only a small remnant of Assiniboines left, survivors of the smallpox. TheAssiniboine invited them to come to live with them in order to increase theirprotection against the Sioux, since European settlement was pushing both groupsinto competition for the same territory.That led to an influx of related Ojibwasfrom the southeastern Lake Superior Region to the Red River area.The residentpopulation of Cree welcomed their linguistic cousins as allies against the Dakota, who also had a claim to this area.

1793 –After the Revolutionary War, the British Crown addressed its Indigenous allies. Lord Simcoe, speaking for the King, promises and encourages continuing sovereignty. At the time of on-going negotiations with the new United States, Lord Simcoe, the Governor of Upper Canada, addressed the First Nations in the name of the King. On June 22, 1793, he told the gathered Chiefs:

“Children and Brothers: You show your wisdom, established on experience, when you say that your Father has never deceived you and you have always found you may confidently depend on him.

            “You may confidently depend upon the King your Father; he will never deceive you; and so strongly is the love of truth impressed by his example and orders on all who are the delegates of his power in this country, that the youngest of our Chief warriors would be degraded from that character was he capable of deceit or falsehood.”

            “The documents, records and Treaties between the British Governors – in former times and your wise fathers, of which in consequence of your request authentic copies are now transmitted to you, all establish the Freedom and Independency of your Nations.

            “Children and Brothers: These authentic papers will prove that no King of Great Britain ever claimed absolute power or sovereignty over any of your lands or territories that were not fairly sold or bestowed by your Ancestors at Public Treaties. They will prove that your natural independency has never been preserved by your predecessors and will establish that the rights resulting from such independency have been reciprocally and constantly acknowledge in the Treaties between the Kings of France formerly possessors of parts of this continent and the Crown of Great Britain.”

  • The inland trade was in the hands of private adventurers who tired of rivalry and united to formThe North West Company. These inland traders, largely Scottish in origin, moved into the gap left by the vanquished French traders. French & Scotch traders unite to oppose HBC, bringing more Catholic and Presbyterian traders into the North West Territories.

1794 – The Jay Treaty of 1794 was negotiated between the Crown and the United States, to prevent any further conflict.

When the Europeans landed in North America, they encountered nations with their own people, territories, governments, and laws. The newcomers entered into political, military and economic relations with those nations, recognizing their rights.

The American Revolutionary War led to the creation of the United States of America and a boundary between the United States territory and British North America. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1793, but that treaty left a number of issues unresolved, including the location of the boundary.

In 1794, Britain and the United States entered into a new treaty, known as the Jay Treaty after Chief Justice John Jay, the American negotiator. It was a treaty of “friendship, commerce, and navigation.” Article III of the Jay Treaty provided for free border crossing rights for United States citizens, British subjects, and “the Indians dwelling on either side of the boundary line.” Indians were also not to pay duty or taxes on their “own proper goods” when crossing the border.

The treaty also guaranteed the Indigenous Peoples the right to cross the border without any hassle or having to pay duty. This right is recognized in Article III of the Jay Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation of 1794 and subsequent laws that stem from the Jay Treaty.

It is this treaty that the Mohawk invoke today in their clashes with the government of Canada. Canada Customs says they are smuggling. The Mohawk say they are exercising their ancestral and legal right as a sovereign nation that extends both sides of the border.

North American Indian rights:

Article III states “It is agreed, that it shall at all times be free to His Majesty’s subjects, and to the citizens of the United States, and also to the Indians dwelling on either side of the said boundary line, freely to pass and repass, by land or inland navigation into the respective territories and countries of the two parties on the continent of America, (the country within the limits of the Hudson Bay company only excepted) … and freely carry on trade and commerce with each other.” Article III of the Jay Treaty declared the right of “Indians” (Native Americans) as well as of American citizens and Canadian subjects to trade and travel between the United States and Canada, which was then a territory of Great Britain.[9] Over the years since, the United States has codified this obligation in the provisions of Section 289 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, and as amended in 1965. As a result of the Jay Treaty, “Native Indians born in Canada are therefore entitled to enter the United States for the purpose of employment, study, retirement, investing, and/or immigration”.[10] Article III of the Jay Treaty is the basis of most Indian claims.[11]”

Today, if you were born in Canada and have at least 50% First Nation blood, you may be entitled to certain rights and benefits in the United States.

  • In 1794, Lord Dorchester was the Governor General of Canada. He was preparing to move the capital of Upper Canada from Niagara to York (Toronto), when he discovered that the Treaty made with the Mississauga Indians for the land there, was not legally correct. Lord Dorchester then announced that, from then on, proper records of all Treaty transactions should be kept, and that all purchases were to be made “with great solemnity and ceremony according to the ancient usages and customs of the Indians.” Alcohol was to be banned during treaty negotiations. Dorchester’s instructions, with some notable exceptions, became the basis of the Treaty-making procedure in Canada.

1793 – After the Revolutionary War, the British Crown addressed its Indigenous allies. At the time of on-going negotiations with the new United States, Lord Simcoe, the Governor of Upper Canada, addressed the First Nations in the name of the King. On June 22, 1793, he told the gathered Chiefs:

“Children and Brothers: You show your wisdom, established on experience, when you say that your Father has never deceived you and you have always found you may confidently depend on him.

              “You may confidently depend upon the King your Father; he will never deceive you; and so strongly is the love of truth impressed by his example and orders on all who are the delegates of his power in this country, that the youngest of our Chief warriors would be degraded from that character was he capable of deceit or falsehood.”

              “The documents, records and treaties between the British Governors – in former times and your wise fathers, of which in consequence of your request authentic copies are now transmitted to you, all establish the Freedom and Independency of your Nations.

              “Children and Brothers: These authentic papers will prove that no King of Great Britain ever claimed absolute power or sovereignty over any of your lands or territories that were not fairly sold or bestowed by your Ancestors at Public Treaties. They will prove that your natural independency has never been preserved by your predecessors and will establish that the rights resulting from such independency have been reciprocally and constantly acknowledge in the Treaties between the Kings of France formerly possessors of parts of this continent and the Crown of Great Britain.”

  • The inland trade was in the hands of private adventurers who tired of rivalry and united to form The North West Company. These inland traders, largely Scottish in origin, movedinto the gap left by the vanquished French traders. French & Scotch traders unite to oppose HBC, bringing more Catholic and Presbyterian traders into the North West Territories.
  • The York boat, based on an Orkney Islands-Viking influenced design, was invented in the early 1800s, by the Metis working for William Sinclair, a Metis Chief Factor from York Factory. The Metis made York Boats to traverse larger bodies of water. These large flat-bottomed boats were up to 13 meters long, could hold up to six tons of cargo, and employed a crew of eight men. In addition to their superior capacity, these boats required less maintenance. Both oars and a square sail powered them.

1795 – A group of Saulteaux/Métis settlers established the Netley Creek area of Red River. It is estimated that 1,000 Ojibwa and Ojibwa Métis are living along the Red River at this time.

  • The North West Company purchased about 1,200 to 1,500 bushels of wild rice each season from the Indians and Métis between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg.  Wild rice is the principle food of the posts in this area.  Rice has the advantage over corn of not going sour during the heat of summer.  The Hudson Bay Company imports oatmeal for the same purpose, not having access to the rice supply.  The second most important article of food is pemmican.  David Thompson (1770-1857) of the HBC said that even the gluttonous French Canadians, who devour 8 pounds fresh meat every day, are content with a pound and a half of pemmican.  Pemmican will keep indefinitely.  Pemmican is made by taking 50 pounds of lean, beaten bison (buffalo) meat and adding 40 pounds of melted bison (buffalo) fat with some dried berries for flavour, making 90 pounds of pemmican.  This is considered the optimum size for canoe transportation.  The Hudson Bay Company also reports the planting of corn, squashes, pumpkins, beans and potatoes, obtained from the Indians, most being planted in the Indigenous settlements along the Red, Assiniboine and Rainy rivers.
  • The Red River de Métis enjoyed two very important foods; ‘Red River Bannock‘ and ‘Red River Pemmican‘.  Red River Bannock likely evolved when the French cultivated wheat at Fort Detroit in 1701.Some credit the Scots with introducing bannock to the Métis but this is ridicules as the Métis bannock uses wheat where as the Scottish Bannock uses oatmeal.   The Scots would later adopt the Métis Red River Bannock. The first Métis Bannock used lard but by this time bison (buffalo) fat had replaced lard and wild berries were added for flavour. Cowboys would later adopt this process and call it ‘Trail Biscuits’, ‘Bush Bread’, ‘River Cake’ and Galette. Red River Pemmican was a creation of the Indians. The Cree word for pemmican was ‘pimii-kan’ simply meaning prepared and the Métis likely adopted this name. To suggest only the Cree prepared bison (buffalo) is ridicules and likely every plains bison (buffalo) hunter had a common method of preserving their bison (buffalo). The Cree method to prepare was to first dry the meat, then they braised it, then it was beaten into a powder and bagged.The bison (buffalo) fat or tarrow, after being rendered, was then added and mixed. Berries were sometimes added for flavour. Some suggest bison (buffalo) fur was added to keep it interesting.The bags were turned from time to time until the mixture set. It would last in a preserved state for years. 

1797 – David Thompson, a thirteen year veteran with the Hudson Bay Company, defected in order to work for the North West Company because they would not let him do surveying and map making.  He is hired, at four times his former salary, to survey the American and North West Company boundaries. Thompson would marry a Métis named Charlotte Small, Métis (1784-1856) daughter of free trader Patrick Small Sr. and Cree Indian woman. Thompson is considered a poor explorer, but an excellent surveyor and map maker. This is likely an opinion of a HBC man. Others suggest Thompson was a great explorer as he wisely listened to the natives and Métis who traveled extensively throughout America. His Métis wife Charlotte was likely a big asset.

1799 The HBC fort on the Red River was likely established in 1799, at the mouth of the Assiniboine River on the north side, of the Red River and was called The Forks by the local population. 

1801 – On November 15, 1801, Alexander Henry records the Métis invention of the Red River Cart in his diary. His employees at the Pembina trading post developed the cart. The cart, based on an ancient French design, had technology and innovations that made them particularly useful for travel on the plains of the North American Northwest. With this development traders were no longer confined to the waterways. As Henry noted, the country being so smooth and level we can use them in every direction. The legacy of the Red River cart is still found in cities such as Winnipeg, Manitoba that have very broad roadways. Portage Avenue in Winnipeg is wide because it is an original cart trail west, and carts used to travel from three to twenty carts abreast. The cart, drawn by either an ox or horse, was used to transport meat, buffalo hides, pemmican, trade items and personal belongings to and from the bison hunt and centres of trade in the United States. The cart could carry 300 to 400 kilograms of freight. It was made entirely of wood with two large rawhide covered wheels, 1.5 metres in diameter. The versatility of the cart was unmatched. When crossing water, the wheels were removed and lashed to the bottom to form a raft without having to unload any freight. In winter, the frame could be used as a sled pulled by a horse. The Red river Cart was responsible for the expansion of the fur trade in the west and for the commercialization of the buffalo hunt.

  • The York boat, based on an Orkney Islands-Viking influenced design, was invented in the early 1800s, by the Métis working for William Sinclair, a Métis Chief Factor from York Factory. The Métis made York Boats to traverse larger bodies of water. These large flat-bottomed boats were up to 13 meters long, could hold up to six tons of cargo, and employed a crew of eight men. In addition to their superior capacity, these boats required less maintenance. Both oars and a square sail powered them.
  • A new French Canadian Company referred to as the ‘XY’ Company came into existence to challenge the North West Company and the British Hudson Bay Company.  The competition was manageable until Alexander MacKenzie joined the company with a vendetta against Simon McTavish (1750-1804) of the North West Company. The North West Company trade began to hurt and they declared war on the ‘XY’ Company, as well as on the potties (the English of the Hudson Bay Company) – as they called them. War at this time was in the form of harassment.

1802 – Many Nor’westers believe that the stupidities of the Montreal Scots are driving the NorthWest Company into ruin. In a few years the working capital of Sir Alexander MacKenzie’s ‘XY’ Company is nearly equal to the North West Company. ‘XY’ only had two hundred and fifty men in the field, mostly former North West Company men, compared with Simon McTavish (1750-1804) of the North West Company’s one thousand and fifty eight. ‘XY’, however, had the cream of the crop and is producing nearly as much furs as the North West Company. 

1803 – The North West Company open a post at Netley Creek, on the west side of the Red River.

1805 – Fort Gibraltar (Winnipeg) is built as the chief post of the interior by the North West Company to supply the entire Western Operation.

  • The Ojibwa and Metis at Netley Creek, planted a traditional European garden.
  • Word reached the field that the NWC and XY Co. had merged last autumn so this precipitated a number of Fort closures to avoid duplication. XY and HBC had a number of small posts between Swan Lake and the Assiniboine. One fort was Bird Mountain, another at Swan Lake which David Harmon (1778-1845) says was near the site of a HBC post, abandoned several years before 1800. Up the Assiniboine were Thornburne House, Grant House, Marlboro House and Carlton House. Dog Hill, Moose River and Turtle Hills were noted by David Thompson in 1797. Arrowsmiths map of 1857 shows Birdstail Fort at the mouth of that little stream, near Fort Ellis aka Beaver Creek Fort, which is a mile or two below the mouth of the Qu’Appelle and Fort Hibernia on the head waters of the Assiniboine above Fort Pelly.
  • Alexander Henry the Younger left seed with the Saulteaux and Ottawa people. Corn was raised by the Saulteaux, 1.5 miles upstream from the mouth of the Red River. There is evidence of corn being grown here 600 years from our present time.

1809 – The North West Company built Fort Gibraltar(#1). It proved an irritant to the Hudson Bay Company for ten years. There were many conflicts between the mostly Scottish employees of the HBC and the NWC employees, who were mostly French-Canadians and Métis. On March 17, 1816, Fort Gibraltar was captured and destroyed by Colin Robertson, a former NWC employee who became a leader of the Selkirk Colony. The capture was ruled illegal by British authorities and the North West Company was given permission to rebuild the fort in 1817, Fort Gibraltar (#2).

1811 –The Hudson’s Bay Company, had fallen under the control of Scottish investors led by Thomas Douglas, Earl of Selkirk. Selkirk wanted to create a homeland for displaced Scots and Irish tenant farmers. The HBC granted him vast tract of land in the Red River valley. The first advance guard of European settlers under the command of Miles MacDonnellarrived at York Factory in the late fallof 1811 and came into the Red River area.They arrived at Point Douglas, two miles north of the forks of the Red andAssiniboine Rivers. A party of what looked like Indians approached the little bandof colonists and warned them they were unwelcome. As a result, the settlers decided to go on to Pembina to spend the winter, not knowing the Indians were really a group of North West Company employees, the Red River de Métis.

[In the Northwest, at the Red River Valley, the Métis, who were a mix of French, English, Scottish, and First Nations. (The word stems from the French moitié, or “half” to describe a people who stem from the French traders, Coureurs de Bois and Voyageurs of the Fur Trade days, who married Indian women.) A frontier people, largely French-speaking and Catholic, the Métis had developed a lifestyle based largely on that of the buffalo hunt. They also employed by the North West Company and supplied provisions to the company– especially the all-important pemmican (dried meat, usually buffalo or moose, mixed with berries and fat and pounded flat). Pemmican fuelled the entire fur trade, feeding voyageurs and Métis traders alike. Following the annexation of the north-west by Canada in 1869, the political economy of the Métis was destroyed. Denied the recognition of their collective rights, the Métis became Canada’s “forgotten people”. Only in Alberta was any action taken to alleviate Métis distress through the establishment of Métis settlements by the provincial government of Alberta in 1938. The Métis is officially recognized as one of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples in the Canadian Constitution of 1982.]

1812 – The first party of eighteen Selkirk Settlers reached the site of the Red River Colony led by Miles McDonnell. Miles MacDonnell, Governor of the District of Assiniboia, proclaimed Lord Selkirk’s ownership of the 185,000 km2 that constituted the District of Assiniboia.Fort Douglas was a fort of the Hudson’s Bay Company that was built by Scottish and Irish settlers. Intentionally or not, Selkirk placed his colonists smack dab in the middle of the North West Company’s Fort Gibraltar, it was in the immediate vicinity (down river), and a semi-permanent First Nations settlement on the banks of the Red River north of the site of present-day Winnipeg. The First Nations settlement consisted of two separate bands, one Ojibway, led by Peguis, and the other Cree. Second group of settlers would arrive in 1813.

War of 1812 – What has become nothing more than a footnote in Canadian history and has been omitted from most history books is the contribution that Indigenous protectors made to the defense of what would become Canada during the war of 1812. More than 15,000 Indigenous Warriors fought on the side of the British against the Americans. They came from the north, south, east and west believing that as allies of the British Crown they would be treated more fairly then by the Americans. Without these brave protectors Canada would certainly be a part of the United States as they took the brunt of most of the losses.

The US Congress declared war on Britain (Canada) on June 18, 1812. On June 24 the Canadian North West Company notified Sir George Prevost at Quebec that the United States of American was at war with Canada. This American war against Canada had two major objectives:

  • Destroy the last trace of Indian fighting power in the Great Lakes Country (Anishinaabe Territory) in order to clear the way for European settlement. The Great Lake Superior regions was historically, at least for 400 years, considered “middle ground’ where various cultures meet to trade, to encourage alliances through inter-cultural marriages, to trade information and debate issues. When the Anglo-Americans arrived they turned this multi-culture middle ground into borders or frontiers destroying the peace. 
  • Drive all British out of North America so that the Americans might control all of North America.

The Americans had eight million people, with three million living in the part of the States bordering on Canada; which only had some five hundred thousand people.  Canada had an army of four thousand, four hundred and fifty men, and only one thousand and five hundred were west of Montreal to defend one thousand three hundred miles of border. Major General Isaac Brock was building up Canada’s fortifications and alliances with the First Nations (15, 000 Warriors would join the war), such as the great Shawnee Leader Tecumseh (March 1768 – October 5, 1813), also known as Tecumtha or Tekamthi or  Tekoomsē meaning: “Shooting Star” or “Panther Across The Sky.” Brock was determined to take the battle to the enemy. He wanted to counter-attack relentlessly and keep the Americans off balance. In this, Brock adopted his Native allies’ war tactics against the poorly organized Americans. Together – as friends, allies, and equals – the British general and the First Nations Alliance would save Canada.

Tecumseh the great Shawnee war leader has no love for the British but he despises the Americans more and is in open war with the Americans.

(To Governor William Harrison, American, in 1810)“you have the liberty to return to your own country … you wish to prevent the Indians from doing as we wish them, to unite and let them consider their lands as common property of the whole … You never see an Indian endeavor to make the white people do this … Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children? How can we have confidence in the white people? And, “….the only way to stop this evil [loss of land] is for the red man to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was first, and should be now, for it was never divided.”

Tecumseh and his shamanistic half-brother, Tenskwatawa (“The Open Door”), convince the other tribes (Shawnee, Ojibway/Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Delaware, Miami, Wyandot, Fox, Dakota, Kickapoo, Sauk, and Winnegago) to join the British to combat American territorial ambitions. Most of the First Nations Alliance fought alongside the British for tactical, not loyalist reasons. Nevertheless, the Anishinaabe remembers their Wampum promises to the Crown in the 1764 Treaty of Niagara “Remember King George”. Tecumseh is a gallant Warrior – General being instrumental in taking Forts Michilimackinac, Brownstone and Detroit. After the fall of Fort Mackinac and Fort Dearborn, more 2,000 warriors began to flood to Tecumseh and the Canadian defence. Tecumseh is recruiting warriors from 1,000 miles away to war on the Americans. Tecumseh and his warriors were successful in employing modern method of ‘guerrilla warfare tactics’ in which was the Indigenous style of fighting. He gave Canada time to organize a defence against the American war of expansion. Tecumseh was killed in the “Battle of the Thames” after the British general Proctor and his troops fled the battlefield leaving Tecumseh and his 400 men alone to fend off 3000 Americans. He gave his life to preserve his people’s way of life would survive. At the same time, he safe guarded Canada from the Americans, but after the war, his contributions are largely forgotten in Canada until recently.

Chief Oshawa (John Naudee) Anishinaabe, Walpole Island. A long time supporter of Tecumseh’s efforts to create a strong confederacy against the American expansion. He was often described as Tecumseh’s chief warrior. After the death of Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames, Oshawana become the principle First Nation warrior of southwestern Upper Canada and continued to support the British until the very end of the war.

Another Canadian ally was “Pine Tree Chief” John Norton (Teyoninhokarawen or “the Snipe”), Six Nations War Chief (1763 -1831) and his 80 Iroquois warriors (Haudenosaunee) were outnumbered 15/1, played a key role into striking fear into the American invaders at the Battle of Queenston Heights, on the Niagara Frontier, creating a psychology of panic that demoralized the American army leading to its defeat and retreat. The Mohawk’s hit and run tactics confuse the Americans, thinking the Indians have a greater number of warriors, who become disoriented and are unable to get organized. They are held in this state for ten hours until reinforcements arrive. The Americans abandoned their positions and ran in panic, in disorder, for their lives.

John Brant (1794 – 1832), son of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, was the leading figure of the Six Nations of the Grand River. Throughout the War of 1812, Brant played an active role as war chief and warrior. Alongside Six Nations War Chief John Norton, Brant worked to recruit Six Nations warriors to fight alongside Major-General Sir Isaac Brock before his 20th birthday. Following the war, Brant was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Indian Department and appointed Indian superintendent of the Six Nations.

Wabasha (Waa-Pa-Shaw), Dakota, Captain and War Chief (1765/77 – 1836), was chief of a Kiowa tribe of the Mdewakanton and was highly respected by the Dakota. Wabasha led a strong contingent of Dakota warriors to Fort St. Joseph near Sault Ste. Marie to join other First Nation warriors. After the Treaty of Ghent, Wabasha continued to be an important spokesman for the Dakota and his people’s rights against growing American expansionism.

Métis fighters played an active and vital role in the defence of Upper Canada. Métis fighters, along with French-Canadian voyageurs employed by the North-West Company, volunteered to take up arms against the Americans invaders. The Métis initially served as members of the Corps of Canadian Voyageurs and later the Commissariat Voyageurs, a corps created to arm Métis and French-Canadian voyageurs.

1814 – Lord Selkirk and the Pemmican Wars. The Hudson Bay Company did not claim exclusive rights until this year and tried to retro fit their claim to 1670. The Hudson Bay Company did not enter the Saskatchewan until the 1780’s or the Assiniboine until 1805. The Hudson Bay Company never had any rights to the Red River or the Saskatchewan Rivers. Selkirk was the first to suggest this preposterous idea of exclusive rights to the north west territories. The Nor’westers was convinced that the colony was really a ploy for the HBC to establish a base for further penetration into the interior. Even worse, the Selkirk colonists were soon threatening to launch an embargo on pemmican supplies (arguing that the meat was being taken from land that they owned?). Governor of the District of Assiniboia, Miles McDonnell, forbids the export of Pemmican or other provisions from Assiniboia. Pemmican was used in the fur trade, so if the Métis obeyed this law, they would have to stop trading for the goods they needed. It also would destroy the Métis’ way of living and destroy the North West Company, which the Métis depended on. The North West Company attacks the Red River Settlement and chased the colonist away by angry Métis and burnt their settlement to the ground. But Lord Selkirk, as dogged as he was naive, re-established the community by sending for the de Meuron regiment.

1815 – In the Treaty of Ghent between Great Britain and the United States of America, the rights of the Indigenous nations were mentioned and their people were referred to in a manner that indicates that they were distinct from the citizens of the United States and the subjects of Great Britain. The right to pass and repass freely throughout traditional territories regardless of the border between Great Britain and the U.S. was confirmed and recognized in that Treaty and it had been in the Jay Treaty of 1794.

  • After the war, the period of military alliance ends. During the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763), the American Independence (1774 -1783), and the War of 1812, the Indian Nations were regarded as military allies (and potential adversaries). The British no longer fear an American invasion. The British no longer needs Indian allies. The modern system of administering “Indian Affairs” is introduced. The military administration becomes a civilian administration. The new administration favours a policy of assimilation and segregation (confinement to reserves). After the war, Americans tried to force native people on United States soil into Oklahoma, following a path dubbed ‘the trail of tears.’ However, many were unhappy with the move and instead relocated on reserves and settlements in Southern Ontario along the Northern shores of the Great Lakes.
  • Métis Infinity Flag. The Métis flag was first unfurled by Métis resistance fighters prior to Battle of Seven Oaks.  It is the oldest Canadian patriotic flag indigenous to Canada. The first flag of the Métis was hoisted by Cuthbert Grant as a symbol of their distinct new culture and Nation. Some Métis people believe that the symbol on the Métis Flag is based upon the Plains Indians sign language for “Métis” which used the sign for “cart” followed by the sign for “Man,” a consequence of the long association (since 1801) of the Métis with their Red River carts. The white symbol has two meanings: The joining of two cultures of European and First Nations and their existence of a people forever.
  • Robert Semple appointed Governor of Assiniboia.
  • Duncan Cameron of Fort Gibraltar (NWC) attacks the Selkirk Settlers.
  • The NWC attacks the Red River Settlement. Settlers flee north to Norway House.

1816 – HBC captures Fort Gibraltar. Brandon House, HBC, plundered and burnt by the NWC (Métis).

  • Battle of Seven Oaks – June 19: At Frog Plains, Red River Valley, at a cluster of trees known as Seven Oaks. What followed was either a massacre or a battle, depending on whose side you take. The Battle of Seven Oaks(Also known to the Métis as la Victoire de la Grenouillière, or the Victory of Frog Plain) occurred when a contingent of twenty – seven British Settlers from HBC Fort Douglas foolishly attacked (some say challenged) Métis General Cuthbert Grant’s Canadian Mounted Cavalry. The Métis group consisted of 6 Canadians, 6 Indians and 52 Métis. These Métis freighters led by Cuthbert Grant, a NWC clerk and trader was heading overland, west of the forks, to deliver pemmican to the Nor’Wester canoe brigades on Lake Winnipeg. They hoped to avoid the HBC Fort Douglas located at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Grant was leading two groups of men well to the east of Fort Douglas heading for LaGrenouillère. The employees of the HBC spotted Grant’s second group and Governor Robert Semple along with a number of HBC mercenaries, staff and a few Selkirk Settlers moved out to meet Grant’s party. They intercepted them at Seven Oaks. Grant and the rest of his men from the lead group came back to reinforce the group that Semple was confronting. A verbal confrontation between governor Semple and François Fermin Boucher led to shots being fired at Boucher and one of the Indians in Grant’s party. The consequent exchange of gunfire and hand-to-hand combat left Semple and twenty of the HBC party dead, with one dead and one wounded on the Métis side. The wounded HBC men were apparently finished off by a Canadian, François Deschamps and his Métis sons. It was the custom of the Indians and Métis living on the plains to “refuse quarter to their conquered enemy.” Cuthbert Grant said that the Métis were successful in defeating Semple because “After the first round, the Half-Breeds in general threw themselves on their backs whilst loading; whereupon the colonists, conceiving that many were killed, took off their hats and huzzaed.” Semple’s men were then taken by surprise when the Métis, having reloaded, rose from the grass and resumed firing. The fact that they threw themselves down to reload is mentioned in several other Court Depositions as the reason for many fewer men being killed on their side. Cuthbert Grant then seized Fort Douglas and the Selkirk Settlers and HBC staff left for York Factory. Cuthbert Grant and a number of North West Company employees were charged with murder and larceny. The trials were held at York in Upper Canada in October 1818—all those sent to trial were acquitted, and charges were dropped on the remainder.  The Battle of Seven Oaks, still celebrated by the Métis as a defining moment in their history.

During this intense conflict, the Ojibway Chief Peguis kept the First Nations neutral, although he did give aid to the settlers in direct opposition to the Métis associated with the North West Company. Peguis offered the ravaged settlement such aid as he could bring. The Northwest Company came to the Peguis camp and called the residents “a band of dirty dogs” and threatened “to punish them very severely if they ever dared to befriend the English again.”

“Had it not been for the zealous attachment of Peguis and his kinsmen, the colonists would have suffered great want. The Indians not only hunted for the colony, they hauled the meat on sleds for great distances, a thing they usually despised doing.”

As a result of Seven Oaks, the Red River Colony was violently dispersed. Homes were burnt. According to historian Morton, “Peguis stood in the ashes and wept.”

After the bloodshed at Seven Oaks, Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk who leads the Red River Colony, restored the settlement by bringing in a small army of Swiss soldiers from the de Meuron regiment who had just been discharged after being hired by Britain to fight the Americans in the War of 1812. These troops seized the North West post at Fort William (Thunder Bay) on their way to the Red River. The first to welcome them at the Red River was Chief Peguis.And the small, beleaguered farming community at Red River, a remote outpost of British society, somehow managed to survive, thanks to the help of Chief Peguis.

1817–Lord Selkirk recaptures HBC Fort Douglas.

  • Lord Selkirk welcomes his exiled settlers back from Norway House after the fallout from the Battle of Seven Oaks.
  • Lord Selkirk began a series of conferences with the First Nations to regularize relations between the two peoples. Although the Ojibway were more recent arrivals as contrasted with the longer established Cree, it was Peguis who assumed dominance in the negotiations, while the Cree were extremely reluctant to participate. As a compromise, it was suggested that settlement would be permitted by a 20-year lease, rather than a sale, with settlement limited to lands along the rivers. In determining the distance back from the river, the negotiators stood on each river bank and looked “under the belly of a horse”. As far as that permitted them to see was the amount of land included. That distance is about two miles from the river banks. All new settlements are restricted to the area. Today, some would say that this was a reserve for the White peoples and the First Nations restricted all settlement within the established boundary. It was Peguis who persuaded the Cree to agree. That agreement to share the land with the Cree and Ojibwa, which became known as the “Selkirk Agreement” was signed on July 18, 1817. The First Nations agree to share land in return for an annual supply of 100 pounds (45 kilos) of good quality tobacco, ammunition and provisions. The alleged treaty remains unconsummated due to lack of payment. Peter Fidler (1769-1822), who was present at the Selkirk ceremonies, made a copy of the document. The settlement was to pay an annual “Present or Quit-rent” to the Saulteaux or Chippeway Nation at the Forks of the Assiniboine River, and to “the Killistino or Cree Nation at Portage de la Prairie on the banks of the Assiniboine River.” As a result of the agreement, the Indian settlement on the Red River was moved to a place 21 miles to the north of the Colony at Sugar Point at present day Selkirk, Manitoba. Three days after the agreement, the Crees demanded that a block of land be reserved for them on the Assiniboine to the west of Portage la Prairie, and this was done.

1818 – The first Catholic missionaries arrived and established a parish on the east side of the river. Among them was Father Joseph Norbert Provencher. The missionaries were brought, in part, to ease the tension between the HBC and NWC after the battle of Seven Oaks.

1820 – An Anglican clergyman, John West, arrives in the Red River Colony. He was sent by the Church Missionary Society (founded in 1799). The CMS missionary in Red River possessed strong views regarding the nature of native society in western Canada. They considered the Indian inferior to white culture and lacking in the benefits of civilization and Christian gospel. The basic attitudes of the CMS were influenced by cultural evolutionary theory which enjoyed considerable popularity in 19th century Victorian England. It taught that all men, while inherently equal, were at different stages of a cultural, technological and social evolution. British society, the Victorian evangelicals maintained, had reached its superior position in the world due to its being further along in a linear process they called “civilization.” The missionaries viewed the Indians as people who simply lagged behind in this evolution (savages and pagans being at the lowest level). He opens a school in which he hopes “to convert and civilize Indians. The First Indian School to be run by Anglican religion.

1821–Philanthropic liberalism and evangelical Christianity combined to advocate for the advancement and civilization of Indians, based on the principle that while Indigenous people deserved protection and basic rights, they were in an inferior stage of spiritual, mental, and social development and needed to be raised up by the adoption of Christian values. Crown policy was now shifting towards “Detribalization.”

  • The Pemmican War between the Red River Colony (HBC) and the North West Company ended by the Amalgamation of the two companies under the name of the HBC. British Government extends trade monopoly to include the North-West Territory. The North West Company had 97 trading posts compared to the 84 in Manitoba that flew the Hudson’s Bay Company standard.
  • The dreaded Irish Orange Order began arriving in Canada, being brought in by Protestant Irish. The order vowed to make Canada – Protestant, British and Conservative. Because of their hate towards the Roman Catholics, the Orange men would have a profound negative impact on the First Nations, Métis, French and Canadian Culture. 

1822 – The Hudson Bay Company established a third trading post confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers near the site of North West Company’s Fort Gibralter. It served as the centre of fur trade within the Red River Settlement. Unfortunately in 1826, a severe flood destroyed the fort. It was rebuilt in 1837 by the HBC and named Upper Fort Garry to differentiate it from “the Lower Fort Garry.”

1823 – Reverend David Jones (1798-1844), an Anglican priest arrived to start his missionary work at the Red River Settlement.  Reverend John West the first minister of Red River departed for England. Reverend David Jones moved into the house built by Reverend John West. The day he moved in Chief Peguis arrived to get rum. Jones said he wanted boys for his school. Peguis said

“I have listened very much to what you say, and they are fine promises; we want our children to become like white people, to get plenty of Indian corn, wheat, and potatoes; for since you white people have got our lands, we are very poor. Before that we had plenty — our rivers were full of fish, and we always conquered our enemies; but now the white people promise much and give nothing. And now you come and want our children.”

  1. – Reverend William Cockran, an Anglican missionary who arrived in the Red RiverSettlement in 1825, established two missions along the Red. The first was “the church at the rapids”, built in 1831 and later christened St. Andrews Church when it was rebuilt in stone. Cockran and his wife opened a missionary school for half-breed and Indian children living along the west side of the river. Chief Peguis, leader of the Red River Ojibwa people, was among the congregation.

1826 – Thomas L McKenny, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, visited Sault Ste Marie to prepare for the Treaty of Fond Du Lac. He was in awe that his canoe men had taken the canoe out of the water; mended a breach; reloaded it; cooked breakfast; shaved; washed; ate and re-embarked, all in 57 minutes. The normal standard for this procedure is 60 minutes, which suggests McKenney knew little of the trade business. He also reported that on the Lake Superior run they began at 3:00 AM and by 7:00 PM had paddled 57,600 strokes. When asked, they said that they were not tired yet. They eventually camped at 9:30 PM.

  1. – The Chippewa Treaty and Reserves. The Treaties usually specified a transfer of territory in return for a single payment of money and goods, plus a promise of annual payments in perpetuity. At first, no land reserves were set up, because there seemed to be so much land, and so few people. In 1827, after several years of prolonged negotiation, the Chippewas (as the British called them), shared 2.7 million acres of the finest agricultural land in Canada in southwestern Upper Canada. They kept less than 1% of their land in four reserves -now Kettle and Stoney Point, Walpole Island, and the Sarnia Reserve. Over the next 150 years, the size of these important reserves would shrink bit by bit, mostly through illegal sales of land approved by government-employed Indian agents who were supposed to be protecting the interests of the First Nations, not ripping them off. Some lands would be illegally seized by government for its own use. At the end of the twentieth century, the land issue would erupt into the tragic Ipperwash confrontation (1995) that would make headlines all over Canada.

1830 – The Hudson Bay Company began construction of the Lower Fort Garry, also known as “The Stone Fort”, 20 miles downriver, one that would stand on higher ground and be situated north of the gruelling St. Andrews rapids. Lower Fort Garry’s main buildings were completed by the early 1840’s, using limestone and wood from the surrounding area.

1833 – The original Cree of the Red River area by now had moved into the area west of Portage. The Cree in the settlement were mostly relatives of the Half-breeds associated with HBC. Therefore, the Crees of Red River were largely of a northern origin, “the Swampies” or Swampy Cree referred to above, rather than the Prairie Crees or Plains Cree near Portage. Because they came as individuals rather than as organized bands, the Swampy Cree tended to become a part of the Ojibway political organization headed by Chief Peguis.

  1. – First meeting of the Council of Assiniboia.
  2. – William Cockran, an Anglican minister, established Peters Indian Industrial School at Sugar Point, north of the Red River Settlement. The Hudson Bay Company is not pleased, as agriculture could led the Indian away from the fur trade. 

Reverend William Cockran established St. Peter, Dynevor Old Stone Church and agricultural settlement on the east side of the river. It was the first and only church constructed for the First Nations. One of the most prominent converts to Christianity was one of Peguis’ sons who later known as “George William Prince”. Cockran gave him personal tutorship, advanced English and religious instruction. In the fall of 1837, however, he fell ill. It was assumed he had been “thinking too long”. Cockran sent the young man home, gravely disturbed. He died shortly afterwards, but not before having talked a great deal with Peguis about Christianity. A few months later, Peguis decided to become a Christian — which meant abstaining from alcohol and practicing monogamy — and in February, 1838, he was baptized. Cockran recorded that when he told Peguis that since he was no longer a pagan, he must have a Christian name, and asked him what it would be. Peguis said, “How do you call the Great White Father across the sea?” Cockran said he was called “King”. Peguis answered, “Then call me ‘King’.” When his sons came forward to be baptised, Cockran asked Peguis how they were to be named. Peguis asked, “What do you call the sons of the white King?” Cockran said they are called “Prince”. “Then call them ‘Prince’,” Peguis instructed. That is why the children of William King became known as Edward Prince, Albert Prince, etc.

1838 – Queen Victoria extends the trading monopoly of the HBC for a further 21 years.

1839 – The United State first proclaimed the Manifest Destiny this year, that assumed the Americans, a naturally superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race, was divinely destined to expand across North America (Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Central America) to the exclusion of Indians, Black and Hispanic Peoples. The American Constitution did not apply to non-Anglo-Saxons in practice until the late 20 century. It was and is an ingrained ideology in American political to achieve their ambitions through ‘might is right’. The cry became ‘Boundaries of Freedom’ but it excluded those people who they perceived as being incapable of self-governing, such as Indians, Canadians and Mexicans. They used this philosophy to annex Indian Nation Lands throughout the U.S.A., Canadian lands in Washington, Idaho. Montana and Oregon, Mexican lands of Texas, New Mexico and California. They attempted to take Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.  The Spanish exploration of central North America accounted for nothing, not even respect. The threat of invasion was always present for 200 years in North America. 

  • European hat makers switched from beaver to silk, seriously impacting the fur trade in Canada.
  • Period of military alliance ends. During the French and Indian Wars (1755-1763), the American Independence (1774-1783), and the War of 1812, the Indian Nations were regarded as military allies (and now potential adversaries).

1840 – The mindset of the Victorian age era, “Race is everything”:Men should rule over Women,

White Men should rule over Black/Red Men, The Educated over the uneducated masses. 

  • The Ojibwa and Iroquois on the credit river near Toronto, renewed a Friendship Treaty. Two hundred Ojibwa Chiefs and fifteen Iroquois headmen were attending. The Ojibwa and Iroquois, numbering several thousand, were standing united amidst waves of white settlers rapidly encroaching on their territories.

1842 The Bagot Commissionby Governor Sir Charles Bagot began the formulations that brought forward the assimilative policy and eventually the Indian Residential School System.* First Nations were generally in favour of the Bagot Commission’s proposals on education, as they knew that education was the key to their children’s future. The Bagot Commission recommended:

  • That Indians be encouraged to adopt individual ownership of plots and land under a special Indian land registry
  • No sales of Indian land to Non-Indians were permitted
  • Aboriginals ought to acquire industry and knowledge if they were to become valuable members of society. Cornerstone of Indian residential school system.

This would mark how racism becomes institutionalized in Canada. The central rationale of the Commission’s findings was that further progress by communities would be realized only if the civilizing system was amended to imbue Aboriginal people with the primarily characteristics of civilization: industry and knowledge.” The Anglican and Methodist institutions in Upper Canada instigated Residential Schools from the 1840’s onward. The residential Schools were in fact more like reform farms were the children were forced to spend half the days toiling in the fields to provide cheaply run schools. The food provided to the students was low in quantity, of poor quality and did not meet minimum substance standards.

*The Canadian Indian Residential School System was intended to force the assimilation of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada into European-Canadian society. When the First Nations had asked for schools during Treaty negotiations, they had envisioned them as a means of preparing their children for the new way of life that lay ahead. The government’s primary role were to convert Indigenous children to Christianity and to “civilize them” which meant separating children from their families to “kill the Indian in the child” leading to allegations in the 20th century of cultural genocide and ethnocide+. There was an elevated rate of physical and sexual abuse, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and a lack of medical care led to high rates of tuberculosis, and death rates of up to 69 percent.

+Ethnocide refers to the deliberate attempt to eradicate the culture or way of life of a people. Ethnocide depends on the use of political power to force relatively powerless people to give up their culture and therefore characteristic of colonial or other situations where coercion can be applied. The term is sometimes used to refer to any process or policy those results in the disappearance of a people’s culture. – The Dictionary of Anthropology, Edited by Thomas Barfield

  • The 1821 Selkirk arrangement with the Hudson’s Bay Company expired at the end of its 20-year term and was renewed.

1844 – The Grey Nuns arrive at the Red River Settlement.

1845 –The arrival of the Roman Catholics — who also called themselves Christians – caused considerable confusion. As one chief told Father Devreau — in words almost identical to the Seneca Chief Red Jacket’s famous speech to the missionary: “You tell us that there is but one religion that can save us, and that you have got it. Now which of you white men am I to believe? … I will tell you the resolution I and my people have come to. It is this: when you both agree and travel the same road, we will travel with you. Till then, however, we will adhere to our own religion. We think it is the best.”

  • On September 5, as an example to other natives, a Saulteaux was hung at Red River, being convicted by the Governor of killing another Saulteaux and a Sioux. The Métis petitioned the Governor, asking him to explain the rules of law as it now exists. The Hudson Bay Company had no basis in law to justify their actions, and the Hudson Bay Company in future years would deny committing this act of murder and other acts against the Natives.

1846 – The Oregon Treaty sets the 49th parallel as the boundary between Canada and the USA (Medicine line).

1847 – Alexander Kennedy Isbister, (d-1883) delivered a report to the British Association for the Advancement of Science stating that when Europeans made contact with the natives on terms set by the Indians, the Europeans prospered and the natives were not harmed. When the Europeans established the terms, as was true for most of the contact between Company and natives, the consequences were disastrous for the natives. 

1849 – Louis Riel Sr. and Pierre-Guillaume Sayer announce at a public meeting that they will no longer abide by the commercial restrictions of the HBC. With the cry, “Le commerce est libre! Le commerce est libre!”(“Trade is free! Trade is free!”), the HBC could no longer use the courts to enforce their monopoly on the settlers of Red River.This unofficially ends the HBC monopoly.

1850 The Robinson Huron Treaties and The Robinson-Superior Treaties of 1850 were drawn up in a manner substantially different from earlier Treaties and were the precursors of the later numbered Treaties. The Treaties were the first to include lump sum payments, annuities, the establishment of reserves and the guarantee of Aboriginal rights. No previous Treaty had contained all of these factors, but every Treaty subsequent to 1850 did. Signature of the Robinson Treaties, concerning the conveyance of land north of Lakes Huron and Superior negotiated to clear the way for mining in the north of the Great Lakes, where geologists had found considerable mineral wealth, and by which the Ojibway tribes were displaced onto 21 small reserves. The Native groups would have the right to hunt and fish in the ceded lands in perpetuity, so that they would not be able to complain of being unable to sustain themselves and their families.

  • Adoption of the Act for Better Protection of the Lands and Property of the Savages in Lower Canada. The Act recognizes two kinds of “Indian lands”: Indian hunting lands and lands granted to Native Peoples directly or throughmissionaries. It also provides the first legal (and “white”) definition of “Indian.” The Act requires compensation of1,000 pounds annually to be distributed among the FirstNations whose lands have been taken by Canadians or ruined by their development.
  • Indian Trust Fund. The British people of the Dominion of Canada petitioned the Crown to bring the Indian Trust and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to Canada.These Indian Trust were alive and well until 1913. It has been researched that the Indian Trust would have been 2 trillion dollars today, earning an annual interest rate of 35 billion dollars. All moneys transferred for capital, general administration, services is drawn from the interest of these trusts as is the entire Indian Affairs budget for their annual operations. (No taxpayer money is used to pay Treaty/Indian Status Indians for over 150 years.

1854 – The Saugeen Treaty 1854.The last major pre-Confederation treaties covered the Saugeen Peninsula north of Owen Sound, and part of Manitoulin Island. These involved some shady dealings. According to the Bond Head treaty of 1836, the Saugeen Peninsula in Owen Sound was supposed to be reserved and protected as Native territory. However, the 1854 treaty bought this land under the stipulation that the natives receive regular payments on an annual basis. First Nations were to receive regular interest payments on money from the sale of those lands ceded to the Crown, but the money disappeared. This is one of several cases that would become the basis of controversy in the late twentieth century.

1855 – American 1855 Treaty with the Ojibway marked the turning point of co-partnership in the Fur Trade era towards a new era of racial segregation of the American Reservation System eventually influencing Canada’s Indian Act policies on reserves.

  • Red River at this time boasted eight churches, and there are forty two mission stations within territory claimed by the Hudson Bay Company. The churches include twelve Catholic, five Wesley, one Presbyterian and the rest are churches of England, all within the Lord Selkirk boundary. The ‘dolly mops’ or barmaids, as the missionary wives are called, began to hobnob with the fur trade gentlemen. They continued in their attempt to set the social pace for the entire settlement. These missionary people condemned the natural order of things by placing country marriages as sinful unions. This belief permanently down-graded the family unit which was an integral and essential element of the fur trade. They preached that a good wife must be clean and industrious in her habits and docile and obedient to her husband. Above all, she must be sexually pure. Once she has lost her chastity, she has from that moment all the vices. The missionaries equated the native nomadic life with barbarism. Proud hunters are instructed that handling a fork correctly and using handkerchiefs would save their immortal souls. The Churches classified Country Wives as unchaste, and some European traders used the missionary zeal as an opportunity to cast off their Country Wives. This allowed them the freedom, with church approval, to marry younger overseas brides and thereby save their immortal souls. The English continued to class the children of country marriages as half-breed (Métis); a derogatory term implying of inferior quality, possibly as a result of the denial of their own half-breed (Métis) origin of Celt, Roman, Viking, Norman, Anglo and Saxon backgrounds. Even to current times their culture strives to legitimize their beliefs and values, which conflict with history and other world Nations.

1857 – An Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of Indian Tribes in this Province, and to Amend the Laws Relating to Indians, passed by the Province of Canada in 1857, the beginning of the principle of legal emancipation. Commonly referred to as the Gradual Civilization Act, this statute was the first to introduce the concept of enfranchisement or the process by which Indigenous lost their Indian status and became full British subjects. In introducing the Act, the colonial government viewed enfranchisement as a privilege for Indigenous Peoples, by which they could gain their freedom from the protected Indian status and gain the rights of full colonial citizenship, such as the right to vote. It is at this point that the strategies of civilization and assimilation begin their legislative existence, with colonial authorities encouraging Indigenous Peoples to forgo their Indian status and be drawn into the larger colonial society as regular citizens (and, hence, become “civilized”) and paved the way for residential schools.

“An Act to encourage the gradual Civilization of the Indian Tribes in this Province”, and to amend the Laws respecting Indians.[Assented to 10th June,1857.]WHEREAS it is desirable to encourage the progress of Civilizationamong the Indian Tribes in this Province, and the gradual removal of all ‘legal’ distinctions between them and Her Majesty’s other CanadianSubjects, and to facilitate the ‘acquisition’ of property and of the ‘rights’accompanying it, by such ‘Individual Members’ of the said Tribes asshall be found to desire such encouragement and to have deserve it:.. V. Every Indian examined by the Commissioners under this Act, shall at the time of such examination declare to them the name and surname by which he wishes to be ‘enfranchised’ and ‘thereafter’ known, such name being his ‘baptismal’ name if he have one, and such ‘surname’ any one he may choose to ‘adopt’ which shall be approved by the Commissioners, and the Commissioners shall enter the same in their Report; and if such Indian be thereafter enfranchised under this Act the ‘name and surname’ so reported shall be those by which he shall thereafter be “legally designated and known.”

The new policy created an immediate political crisis in colonial Indian relations inCanada. The formerly progressive and cooperative relationship between bandcouncils and missionaries and humanitarian Indian agentsbroke down in acrimonyand political action by Indians to see the act repealed. Indian people’s refusalto comply and the government’s refusal to rescind the policy showed that the Nation-to-Nation approachhad been abandoned almost completelyon the Crown side. Although it was reflected in subsequently negotiated treatiesand land claims agreements, the Crown would not formally acknowledge the Nationto-Nation relationship as an explicit policy goal again until the 1980’s’.

This act virtually abandoned the Crown promise, implied by the Royal Proclamationof 1763 and the treaty process, to respect tribal political autonomy.

The tone and goals of the Gradual Civilization Actasserted the superiority of colonial culture and values, and also set in motion a process of devaluing and undermining Indian culture identity. Only Indians who renounced their communities, cultures and languages could gain the respect of colonial and later Canadian society.

It was the beginning of a psychological assault on Indian identity that would beescalated by the later Indian Actprohibitions on other culture practices such astraditional dances and regalia and by the residential school policy.

Under the Act, only Aboriginal men could seek enfranchisement. In order to do so, they had to be over the age of 21, able to read and write in either English or French, be reasonably well educated, free of debt, and of good moral character as determined by a commission of non-Aboriginal examiners (Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996). In 1933, an amendment to The Indian Act enforced assimilation even further. That amendment empowered the government to order the enfranchisement of First Nations members who met the qualifications set out in the act, even when they had not requested this. The era of Assimilation and Ethnocide policies begins in Canada.

  • John Palliser (1817-1887), an Irishman, working for the British, arrives in Red River to hire some men of the Country for an expedition. Dr. James Hector whose first love was geology was an obvious choice.  He acquired two wagons and five Red River carts with horses. Lieutenant Blakiston, part of the Palliser expedition wrote:  Red River Settlement is neither a city, town or even a village, but, as the name indicates, a settlement consisting of a straggling chain of small farm establishments, extending for a distance of forty miles along the banks, but mostly on the west bank of the Red River of the North, the dwellings being from fifty yards to a mile apart, while at intervals along this line are a few churches and windmills, besides two establishments of the Hudson Bay Company, built in the form of forts, one at the junction of the Assiniboine with the main river, the other twenty miles below. On the north bank of the Assiniboine also, which has a general course, the settlement extends about 25 miles up, and about 50 miles further is a collection of homesteads, usually called the Portage. The expeditions of H.Y. Hind and Captain Palliser surveyed and described the potential for agriculture on the prairies. Eastern politicians, interested in claiming the West as an economic hinterland, began to see the possibility of enticing white settlement to the Red River Valley region. American settlers are now moving into the area from Minnesota.
  • Mid-century is an Indian renaissance by the Europeans and Eastern Canadians. It is my guess that 70-80% of writings about these noble people are recorded about this time. Some folks finally realized that if they didn’t capture some of this culture, it would be lost forever. It is noteworthy that French contact is 250 years old, and research during this period is already culturally contaminated with Christian European influence. It is also important to remember, especially among the Ojibwa, that French and Ojibwa mixed blood are extremely common. The Métis and Ojibwa culturally are often very difficult to differentiate.    
  • The Plains Cree in council had decided that no white man should be allowed to hunt in or travel through their country due to multiple broken promises and the destruction of the buffalo.The Henry Youle Hind expeditions was witness to the collapse of the hunting fur trade economy of the old North-West. The members of Hind’s expedition included photographer and surveyor Humphrey Lloyd Hime, J.A. Dickenson, John Fleming, thirteen Iroquois, an Ojibwa man, and two French Canadians were prevented to go west beyond Portage La Prairie.

1858 – The concept of Aboriginal title was well-known to the Ojibway. Not only had they entered into the Selkirk Agreement, but in 1858, they posted notice protecting their territory beyond the two-mile boundary they had permitted in the Agreements for settlement, saying that if the settlers ventured past the boundary to cut hay, their stacks would be destroyed. Chiefs Makasis, Keskisimakurs, and Wawakasis sent a letter to Mr. Ibister and to the Aborigines’ Protection Society in England stating so. In February, 1860, Peguiswrote the Aborigines Protection Society, maintaining that the agreement with Lord Selkirk had not extinguished their Aboriginal title.

  • Between the passage of the Gradual Civilization Act and Confederation several eventsand legislative measures cemented the change in imperial Indian policy. They includedthe ending of treaty presents to bands (the symbols of the alliance between the Crown andIndian nations) in 1858 and the passage of the Indian Lands Act in 1860. Although thislegislation formalized the procedure for surrendering Indian land in terms reflective ofthe procedure set out in the Royal Proclamation of 1763, it also transferred authority forIndians and Indian lands to an official responsible to the colonial legislature, thusbreaking the direct tie between Indian nations and the British Crown upon which thenation-to-nation relationship rested.

1859 – George Simpson (1787-1860) of the Hudson Bay Company wrote on the subject of missions: I am quite aware of the inconvenience they (missionaries) are likely to occasion at our Posts and the trouble that may arise from the rivalry between the Protestant and Roman Catholic clergy. The Company, however, feels that it is a necessary evil to which they must submit. Father Vital Justin Grandin (1829-1902) arrived at Fort Rae to found the St. Michel Mission. He would later become a key player in the demise of the Canadian Indigenous culture and would be responsible for the creation of Indian Residential Boarding Schools. He convinced himself that the Métis were impossible to control. He made a fundamental error by assuming the Métis and French Canadians were the same, he didn’t understand or comprehend the national consciousness within the Métis culture or appreciate its significance.  He was naive concerning Canadian history and Indigenous Peoples.

1960’s – Were times of rapid change coming from many directions for Red River Colony, with radical and dynamic elements challenging the conservative main core of the Colony. The ability of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which since 1834 had ruled the Red River Colony through its appointed “Council of Assiniboia”, to maintain control was diminishing as a variety of new elements began to drift into the area. A newspaper, the Nor’Wester founded in 1859is published by Buckingham and Coldwell,began to challenge the Hudson’s Bay Company’s authority upon which the secure title of the colonists’ lands depended. The Métis, “who are now on the soil, and who, besides being natives are the immediate representatives of these tribes, ought to use every legitimate means to urge their claims to consideration in any arrangement which the Imperial Government may see fit to make.” Settlement in the U.S. was flowing westward, and many Americans were considering going northward from Minnesota to settle the fertile Red River Valley. There was talk of annexation of Red River by the United States.Discovery of gold on the Saskatchewan River in 1861 had brought more people from Upper and Lower Canada into the area. Henry McKenny, who was a half brother to Dr. John Schultz, arrived to start a store in Red River. He would later build the first hotel near Fort Garry called the Royal Hotel.By this time, some of the lots on the southern border of the Indian settlement were being occupied by European and half-breed settlers. Other Colonists were cutting hay and sowing crops on the Indian Territories (beyond the Whiteman’s reserve). In January, Peguis, his son Henry Prince, and four other Chiefs issued a “Manifesto” which the Nor’Westerreported in its April 15 edition. Europeans who wished to sow on the reserve, it said, would pay rent at the rate of one bushel for every five bushels sown.

1860 – The Colonial Province of Canada passed the Indian Lands Act. An important element of this Act was the centralization of control over Aboriginal affairs for the colony. The Act created the office of the Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairsand transferred all authority for Indigenous and their lands in the Province of Canada to this single official. Moreover, the Chief Superintendent was given very broad discretionary powers over reserve Indigenous. This centralization continued in 1867, when the Province of Canada was united with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to create the new nation of the Dominion of Canada. Section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867, gave legislative authority over Aboriginals and their lands to the federal Parliament, removing it from the provincial legislatures.

  • On the annual bison (buffalo) hunt, the White Horse Plains Métis visited the Dakota Sioux village of 1,500 warriors to make peace. The Dakota Sioux had sent a peace party to the Métis camp requesting a conference. Following peace, the Dakota Sioux performed the bison (buffalo) Head Dance. In the evening the young single girls, in white deer skin, profusely ornamented with porcupine quills and beads, danced and sang much to the enjoyment of the young Métis hunters, who made many presents, to the evident pleasure of the young girls. The final day of the peace conference is devoted to horse racing and exchange of horses.
  • The Ojibway had always participated in making Treaties with other First Nations. One such Treaty was completed at Fort Garry on March 1, 1860, known as “The Peace of Fort Garry” between the Ojibway, Cree and Dakotas, to end all hostilities with each other. The Dakota Sioux, three Chiefs and eighty braves left the Dakotas and met the Saulteaux and entered into a Peace Treaty at Upper Fort Garry with the Saginosh (English) Governor McTavish, James McKay, William Hallett, Rowand and others. They had representatives from the Ojibway, Ininiw (Cree), Yankton (Sioux) and Sistous. The last time they were in Red River was in 1845 when one of their members is shot dead. The Dakota began moving onto their old traditional territory of present day Southern Manitoba/Saskatchewan. Although the Dakota people were not a part of the numbered treaties they are recognized as occupying their own lands within Manitoba/Saskatchewan and have secured alliances and arrangements with the Crown and the First Nations.
  • On March 1860, a meeting of the Métis, at the request of their Native brothers, drafted the following resolution:

1. That the Cree Chief Senna (Chief Peguis’s son), who has the best claim to the country (Red River), never dispose of it to the Earl of Selkirk or the Hudson Bay Company.

2. That the Hudson Bay Company does not, as alleged, pay any money to each of the five Chiefs, as mentioned in Mr. McDermott’s letter.

3. That the paltry presents given to some or all of these Chiefs for many years after 1816, were not given in the way of payment for lands, but merely to keep them friendly towards the Company.  The friendship of these Chiefs was important, not only because their hostility might have been dangerous, but also because they could, by using their influence with their people, bring a large quantity of furs to the Company.

4. That presents similar to those given after the year 1816 were given for thirty or forty years before that date (since 1776) for the purpose of  ‘keeping in with the Indians’ and given, not only to the Chiefs of this district, but to every influential Indian throughout the country.

5. That no proper arrangement has been made with the native tribes regarding their land. “The half-breeds” (Métis) who are now on the soil and who, besides being natives, are the immediate representatives of these tribes.”

  • The Fort Garry Cricket Club formed but could not replace the Indian game Baggataway. The Métis called it Lacrosse because the sticks resembled a bishop’s crosier or cross. The teams of seventy-five to two hundred aside endeavoured to score goals with roughly shaped balls of animal skins filled with hair. Medicine men were the referees and often the goal posts. When they moved, the game moved, sometimes shifting five or ten miles over the three days of playing.
  • During this decade a small but increasing trickle of Ontario Protestant Orangemen moved to the Red River region. These newcomers are classified as brutal, bigoted, overbearing and greedy. They used whiskey to swindle land from the Indians. They called themselves the Canadian Firsters or the Canadian Party. They were contemptuous of all half-breeds (Métis) and boasted openly that they were going to take over. Their leader was John Christian Schultz, who believed in white supremacy. This did not sit well with the Métis who were classified as easygoing, honest and sharing by nature.   

1861 – Red River/Assiniboine Chief’s: Peguis, Mannamio, Mooscooee, Eskfpacakoose, Accupas and Henry Prince signed and published an Indian manifesto warning “several persons who have extended their cultivation onto Indian Lands to pay rent. Rent of one bushel of wheat for every five bushels of seed sown, and for barley and potatoes the same rate.”

  • Peter Jones’ History of the Ojibway Indians: With Especial Reference to their Conversion to Christianity, London, 1861. Jones said the Ojibway had been difficult toconvert to Christianity because when the Creator gave them their religion, “He told themhow they were to act, and with this knowledge they think it would be wrong and give greatoffence to their Creator to forsake the old ways of their forefathers.

1862 – One of the worst small pox epidemics sweeps Western North America.

  • Many of the Dakota who fled to the North West Territories from the Americans remained to settle in lands at Oak River, Oak Lake and Bird Trail Creek in present day Manitoba. Others settled at White Cap, Wahpoten and Standing Buffalo in Saskatchewan.
  • Manitoulin Island Treaty, Lake Huron, Ontario. The Manitoulin Treaty had the same terms as the Saugeen Treaty, except it referred to part of Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron. However, not all of the Odawas (Ottawas) involved in the treaty signed, so therefore the land in the area remains to this day unceded land. Manitoulin means the home of the spirit.

1863 – Peguis, perhaps with the American influenced Treaty in mind, issued a statement to the Imperial Government: “The things we got were not in payment for our lands. We never sold them. We only proposed to do so, but the proposal was never carried out as Lord Selkirk never came back. At the time, we held council with him, there was no mention of the Hudson’s Bay Company. They were not spoken of or taken into account at all. All of a sudden some years afterwards it turned out that they were claiming to be masters here.” Peguis’ comments were timely: the 1821 agreement giving Hudson’s Bay Company a 21-year term had been renewed in 1842, and in 1863 again up for consideration.

  • On May 29:  Little Crow, Shakopee and Medicine Bottle took their bands into Canada. They arrived at Upper Fort Garry and stayed three days. They expressed a desire to remain on friendly terms with the Canadians. They stated their people had suffered much for years. Good faith had not been kept with their people by the Americans. They had been defrauded of their lands and the advantage is being taken of the rash behaviour of their young braves to gain pretence for extermination of their people. He had been unfairly induced to give up American prisoners in his possession under pretext of affecting an exchange, whereas his friends in the hands of the enemy had been hanged. He asked Governor Dallas to talk to General Sibley to come to terms but if refused they had no alternative to fight a righteous self-defense. Little Crow’s request for food is immediately accommodated. His request for ammunition sufficient to hunt is denied. All Canadian property including buildings and steamboat in Dakota Sioux Country is respected and unmolested. Little Crow said the Dakota with full intention of his people did not want to injure any one from Canada in his person or his property and this will continue into the future. During the peace mission the Dakota ran foot races with the Saulteaux to reaffirm the Peace Treaty with them.
  • In December, five hundred Dakota Sioux, as a result of the Minnesota Dakota Resistance War, fled to Red River where they are given the protection of the Métis, as a result of peace treaty.The Scots were terrified. They established a civilian cavalry of 100 and petitioned Britain for troops. By year end, six hundred Dakota Sioux camped along the Assiniboine River. Due to their plight, many Red River families bought Dakota Sioux children. The gray nuns of St. Francois Xavier bought a boy and three girls for one hundred and twenty pounds of pemmican. Private settlers take three white children whose parents had been killed. The Dakota then moved to the White Horse plains to relieve mounting tension and apprehension. Some of the Red River settlers wanted American intervention to rid themselves of these unwanted hordes. John H. McKenzie, a resident in the Red River Settlement, conspired for hundreds of dollars to deliver the Dakota Chief’s Little Six and Grey Iron (Medicine Bottle) to the Americans.
  • Eventually, 2,000 Dakota fled into Canada from the United States, and most of these settled near Portage la Prairie, while others located near the Hudson’s Bay Post of Fort Ellice, while others made permanent camps just north of the international border near Turtle Mountain. A considerable band of Sissetons moved westward towards Wood Mountain.

1864 – Three thousand Dakota Sioux visited Red River to recover the children who were bought last year. They did minor pilfering before departing but did not excessively harass the communities.

  • Chief Peguis of the Saulteaux Tribe at the Red River Settlement died in 1864, nearly 90 years of age. His imposing personality had played an important role in the Red River history. This respected skilled hunter, warrior, leader, and diplomat protected the rights and interests of his people and ensured the success of the Selkirk settlement. Chief Peguis dedicated his life to maintaining his peoples’ culture and beliefs by negotiating the preservation to traditions while adopting new ways of being. In his later years before his death, the Hudson’s Bay Company awarded him a small pension.
  • July 20, 1864. The “Chilcotin War” was about the Tsilhqot’in People, through their properly authorized representatives, resisting the colonization of their territory, including the genocide by distributing smallpox that accompanied colonization almost everywhere in British Columbia. To end this conflict, the Crown did promise recognition for the existing Tsilhqot’in regime under the custom of the country. The Crown invited Tsilhqot’in leaders to attend a sacred ceremony of joint purpose to begin this relationship. However, this proposed ceremony served only as a tool of treachery. As eight Tsilhqot’in, including the “Head War Chief,” came expecting a conference with the Governor, the Crown ambushed them and threw them in chains. Dishonourable show trials followed. There, the Crown cruelly convicted these Tsilhqot’ in public agents of imaginary capital crimes. Yet these Tsilhqot’in had done no more than protect the people they had a public duty to protect, and to administer their own laws at times and in places where those laws necessarily remained the law of the land. The Colony of British Columbia then martyred the “Chilcotin Chiefs” by hanging in a native graveyard before a crowd of 250, mostly native. This remains one of the largest and most dramatic public executions in all Canadian history.
  • Newly-knightedSir John A. Macdonald put together “The Great Coalition of 1864” of Tories and old Reformers to form the governmentgoing to be confederated into a Super Colony. He only care for office, for the power, for the sake of carrying out his own views, of what is best for the country, with little or no regard for the desires of Indigenous peoples. The Great Coalition had designs on getting its hands on the riches of Rupert’s Land and the North West Territories. Leaders went to London to ask Queen Victoria to make those lands part of Canada. The Queen said to the “Canadians”that area may be “British”, but the Indians have the title to the land.We do not have any Treaties with the Tribes and Nations who inhabit it. You must obtain their consent through Treaties as per the Royal Proclamation of 1763. The Queen reminds the Canadians that when it comes to Rupert’s Land and the North West Territories the Crown did not have the sovereignty of “imperium” and the territory involvedwas not a part of “Canada.”Queen Victoria had said: “I mandate that Treaties will be negotiated:

a) in my name and under my supervision;

b) for the sole purpose of immigration and settlement;

c) compensation must be paid;

d) the treaties will be just and equitable.”

1866 – A meeting is held in the Fort Garry Court House to discuss the establishment of a Crown Colony at Red River.

1867 Queen Victoria met withJohn A. Macdonald and four Canadian delegates in February 1867 as the British North America Actwas passed before British Parliament.Under the BNA, The Queens Address, “The 1867 Address referenced in the 1870 Order, which provides, among other things, that “…the said North-Western Territory shall be admitted into and become part of the Dominion of Canada upon the terms and conditions set forth in the first herein-before recited [1867] Address…”The North-Western Territory is not admitted into and does not become part of the Dominion of Canada until the Terms and Conditions have been satisfied, namely, that a Treaty has been consented to by the Indigenous nations and just and equitable compensation have been agreed to.

  • The Dominion of Canada is created under the terms of the British North America Act. Canada’s original constitution was the charter to Confederation.
  • Section 91(24) of the BNA Act established Federal jurisdiction over “Indians, and lands reserved for the Indians”. The federal government implemented their responsibility through the Indian Act. The BNA was drafted in part to provide policy “teeth” for Sir John A. MacDonald’s “New Indian policy.” The Act specified how First Nation peoples were put ‘under the protection’ of the Crown. Historically, s. 91(24) was understood as a shield—it was intended to stop the provinces from passing laws that directly interfere with ‘Indians and lands reserved for the Indians.” It provided the legal base for the treaties, and it emphasized the government’s central priorities for the Indians are “assimilation, enfranchisement, and civilization.”
  • During the first session of the Canadian Parliament, the House of Commons and Senate adopted the Address, praying her Majesty “to unite Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory with this Dominion, and to grant to the Parliament of Canada authority to legislate for their future welfare and well-being.
  • John A MacDonald (1815-1891), Prime Minister of the Liberal Conservative Party, for a strong, highly centralized, unitary government, made the following statement: “The French half-breeds at Red River are pertinacious resolved to keep the North West a buffalo reserve forever.” MacDonald was a militant Orange Man since 1844. The Orange Order had a violent birth in Loughgall, Ireland in 1795, paying ideological homage to the British Crown and Protestantism. They were a secret society that promoted volunteer militia units for mutual aid and were focused on infiltrating the Civil Service for power. Its power peaked during the MacDonald reign but was still influential into the 1950’s.
  • The Americans began in 1867 to move in on Canada from the West. The nascent threat of the ever-expanding American frontier made even more dangerous by the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny” (Might is right) and the expansionist mood of the post-Civil War administration of President Ulysses S. Grant. For $7.2million, the U.S. bought Russia’s rights to Alaska. The time had come for Canada to come to terms with the Hudson’s Bay Company.
  • This is the year that General Philip Sheridan, Commander of the division of the Missouri, became infamous for his racist quote: “The only good Indian is a dead Indian”.

1868 – In response to all the political and demographic changes going on about them, Yellow Quill and his people protected their lands against the influx of Euro-Canadian immigrants. When settlers attempted to take over lands southwest of Portage la Prairie at Rat Creek, Yellow Quill and his people drove them off. The First Nation’s rights to their lands were recognized when Governor McTavish of the Hudson’s Bay Company asked James McKay to negotiate a lease for three years to allow for the Crown to enter into Treaty arrangements. As a consequence, the newly-arrived settlers, mostly Protestants from Ontario, were allowed to remain unmolested. Yellow Quill was never paid for the lease.

  • The Imperial Government on behalf of the Crown insisted that the provisions of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 be followed with regard to any lands to be used for settlement. In an address to the Queen praying for the admission into the Dominion of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s territories, the Canadian Parliament assured Her Majesty that “the claims of the Indian tribes to compensation for lands required for purposes of settlement will be considered and settled in conformity with the equitable principles which have uniformly governed the British Crown in its dealings with the aborigines.”This intention to continue in the tradition of the established policy was incorporated into the Order in Council admitting Rupert’s Land and the North-western Territory into the Dominion.
  • Riel family have moved to St. Vital (current Riel House National Park).
  • Louis Riel returns to St. Boniface via the USA on the steamer The International. Age 25.

1869 – Hudson’s Bay Company surrenders Rupert’s Land Charter to Imperial Crown. The Northwest Territory and Rupert’s Land, become part of Canada, with the Hudson’s Bay Company surrendering its interest in Rupert’s Land to the Crown for 300,000 pounds (paid by Canada) and 5% of the settled lands, plus reserves around the trading posts, which in turn passed legislation Canada. TheCompany, in turn, would transfer its rights to the Imperial Government,which in turn would transfer those rights to the Dominion of Canada. Meanwhile, the Aboriginal peoples who had long since occupied the area were not involvedin making this arrangement. The surrender specified that any claims ofIndians to compensation for lands shall be attended to by the CanadianGovernment.The transfer from Crown to Canada was contingent upon Canada entering into treaties with the Indigenous nations according to high British standards.

  • In the meantime, there had been no consultation with the Red Riverpopulation, whose Metis majority had every reason to fear the influx ofProtestant farmers before any recognition had been given to their rights asinhabitants for over half a century. A group of 18 French half-breeds “headed by a man namedLouis Riel”, stopped a survey crew sent into Red River country by theCanadian government. The surveyors, headed by a Mr. Webb, were ordered”at once to desist from further running the line, and in fact notifiedthat he must leave the country on the south side of the Assiniboine,which country the party claimed as the property of the French half-breedsand which they would not allow to be surveyed by the Canadian Government.
  • Red River Resistance to Canada was led by emerging Métis leader was the educated Louis Riel, who denounced the government in a speech delivered in late August 1869 from the steps of Saint-Boniface Cathedral, leading to the eventual creation of a provisional government. Hearing that the newly-appointedGovernor was on his way to take over the settlement, the Metis formed agovernment and seized Fort Garry with 120 Metis troops. When soon-to-be-Lieutenant Governor McDougall reached the border, Metis guards sent him back.
  • They took action to protect their interests by joining with theSelkirk Colony settlers to form a “Provisional Government” on December8, 1869. Twelve of the members spoke English, twelve spoke French.With this move, the Metis sought to compel the federal government in thecourse of negotiating the terms of annexation with Canada to acknowledgethe rights of the people of the newly-acquired territory. The goal would beto have Manitoba become Canada’s first interracial bilingual province. Itwould be impossible for Canada to do anything until winter was over.
  • Fearing the insurgents would take over the Stone Fort, “the parish of St. Peter’sparticularly, in which the people consist for the most part of civilized and ChristianizedIndians under the Revs. Archdeacon Cowley and Mr. Cochrane, and who acknowledgeHenry Prince as their Chief, were prompt in responding by sending 50 Indians. By the morning, there were 120 men in the Fort.”
  • On December 16, 1869, the Privy Council, in a report signed by Sir JohnA. Macdonald to the Colonial Office in England, acknowledged the legalityof the Provisional Government. The Dominion Government invitedrepresentatives to come to Ottawa to negotiate the terms of transfer. TheFirst Nations were not included in the invitation to attend the negotiations. In these rebellious times, the First Nations largely remained neutral – but being loyal to the Crown.
  • Following the annexation of the north-west by Canada in 1869, the political economy of the Métis was destroyed.Both the Manitoba Act (1870) and the Dominion Lands Act (1879) recognized Métis claims to Aboriginal title, but the federal government moved to unilaterally extinguish these claims through individual land and grants scrip. Denied the recognition of their collective rights, the Métis became Canada’s “forgotten people”Many had the choice to join FirstNations or stay as Metis “Road Allowance Peoples.”Only in Alberta was any action taken to alleviate Métis distress through the establishment of Métis settlements by the provincial government of Alberta in 1938. The Métis is officially recognized as one of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples in the Canadian Constitution of 1982 and Daniels Case (2016).

1870 – Manitoba joins Confederation. The Manitoba Actwas passed by both the Provisional Government and the Parliament of Canada, and assented to on 12 May, 1870. [It was confirmed by the Imperial Government on June 23, 1870.] S.14 of the Imperial Order specified that “any claims of Indians to compensation for lands required for purposes of settlement shall be disposed of by the Canadian Government in communication with the Imperial Government.” [Note that the intent of the Treaty was to provide “compensation for lands required for purposes of settlementrather than to extinguish rights of the First Nations.”] The population in Manitoba was made up of a majority of First Nations people, but they were given no role in the decision making process of the province.

  • The Manitoba Act provided a Metis land base “towards the extinguishment of the Indian Title to the lands in the province.” The Metis received their land both “in consequence of their extraction, as well as from being settlers.” The Manitoba Actpromised “one million four hundred thousand acres … for the benefit of the families of half-breed residents.” But through mismanagement, lack of knowledge of Red River, or as historian Douglas Sprague has claimed, a deliberate attempt by the federal government to allow speculators to disenfranchise Manitoba’s Metis in favour of incoming Canadian settlement, only a portion of the grant, estimated at less than 600,000 acres in 1882, was ever allotted. The rest ended up in the hands of speculators and Eastern Canadian squatters who were effectively attempting to turn Red River from a Metis community into an Anglo-protestant settlement. A series of provincial statutes throughout the 1870’s resulted in the displacement of the Metis. Legislation which barred those who had not made sufficient “improvements” to their land was used to drive out the Metis from the Red River settlement. Approximately, 1,200 families lost patents on their land because they could not meet the government’s stipulation for ownership. By 1886, the Metis of Manitoba accounted for only 7% of the population. Many had joined to become members of Indian Bands; the rest would abandon their Metis identity in order to blend into Canadian society.
  • On May 20, 1870, a week after assent to the Manitoba Act — but before it was confirmed by the Imperial Government — Adams G. Archibald was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and the North West Territories.
  • General Wolseley’s expeditionary force arrived at the Stone Fort at RedRiver on August 23, 1870, with 60 rifles, artillery, and engineers. Hewas first greeted by Henry Prince, accompanied by his “Canadian Partyvolunteers”, “all decked out in feathers and paint.”The following day, the expeditionary force advanced to Fort Garry, whichwas still held by Riel with armed men intending resistance. It was reportedto London on September 1 that “Riel and his followers then ran away largestores of ammunition, numerous muskets and field pieces . . . inhabitantswelcomed troops as deliverers from oppression and plunder. Nodifficulty.” Riel escapes to the United States of America. A warrant is issued for Riel’s arrest.
  • The Nor’Wester is purchased by some of the HBC money in Provisional Government hands and Major H.M. Robinson becomes editor and renames it the New Nation. It reflects Provisional Government views.
  • The Grand Indian Council of Ontario and Quebec was established composed primarily of Ojibway and Iroquois.
  • British Columbia joins Confederation. British Columbia Lands Policy Invented. Joseph Trutch becomes the first official to deny existence of Aboriginal land title in BC; he revises BC history to have the Douglas treaties as mere friendship pacts. Whites now view Indians as having been primitive nomads and assume BC to have been empty land until discovered by Whites.


Compiled By

Allen Sutherland



Anishinaabe Saulteaux


Treaty 2 Territory

To all my relations,Mii’gwech!

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this document is solely the personal opinion of the author and/or adopted by others and does not reflect, in any manner, the opinions and position of his employer, community, family or associates.

My goal is have a national discussion with the grass roots citizens to see where we can affect the changes we want for our families, communities, and Nations. We owe it to our ancestors to protect our cultures and territories for our future generations. A greater grand society of Kanata/Turtle Island.

Although every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, the entries are as accurate as the sources they are taken from. If you notice an error, or know of a date or event that is not included please let the author know at: Winnipeg, Manitoba