the future of tribes (1800s) (history in canada)

archival photo


What do you think was Morris’ intent here?? From the Eagle Watch #182, October 12, 2011
Excerpt from:

The Treaties of Canada with The Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories by Alexander Morris, 1880
[he was the head Commissioner/ negotiator on behalf of the Crown for Treaties 3, 4, 5 and 6. we’ll have more to say about him later but for now this is what he wrote.]


… 5. A very important feature of all the treaties, is the giving to the Indian bands, agricultural implements, oxen, cattle (to form the nuclei of herds), and seed grain.

The Indians are fully aware that their old mode of life is passing away. They are not “unconscious of their destiny;” on the contrary, they are harassed with fears as to the future of their children and the hard present of their own lives. They are tractable, docile, and willing to learn. They recognize the fact that they must seek part of their living from “the mother earth,” to use their own phraseology. A Chief at Fort Pitt said to me,–“I got a plough from Mr. Christie of the Company twelve years ago. I have no cattle; I put myself and my young men in front of it in the spring, and drag it through the ground. I have no hoes; I make them out of the roots of trees. Surely, when the Great Mother hears of our needs, she will come to our help.”
[Footnote: This band a year ago raised sufficient farm produce to support themselves without hunting.] Such a disposition as this should be encouraged. Induce the Indians to erect houses on their farms, and plant their “gardens” as they call them, and then while away on their hunts, their wives and children will have houses to dwell in, and will care for their patches of corn and grain and potatoes. Then, too, the cattle given them will expand into herds. It is true that the number assigned to each band is comparatively limited, and the Government are not bound to extend the number. This was done advisedly, by the successive Governments of Canada, and the Commissioners, acting under their
instructions; for it was felt, that it was an experiment to entrust them with cattle, owing to their inexperience with regard to housing them and providing fodder for them in winter, and owing, moreover, to the danger of their using them for food, if short of buffalo meat or game.
Besides, it was felt, that as the Indian is, and naturally so, always asking, it was better, that if the Government saw their way safely to increase the number of cattle given to any band, it should be, not as a matter of right, but of grace and favor, and as a reward for exertion in the care of them, and as an incentive to industry. Already, the prospect of many of the bands turning their attention to raising food from the soil is very hopeful. In the reserve of St. Peter’s, in Manitoba, the Church of England has for many years had a church and mission, and long before the advent of Canada as ruler of the lands, the Indians of the Indian settlement had their houses and gardens, the produce of which, went to supplement the results of fishing and hunting. And so on the shores and islands of the Lake of the Woods and on Rainy Lake, the Indians had their gardens. Since the treaties, the
Indians are turning their attention much more to cultivating the soil. The Indian district agent in the Qu’Appelle region, reported in November, 1878, that of the twenty-four bands in this treaty, eleven are gradually turning their attention to farming, and of these Chief Cote, of Swan River, is the most advanced, having harvested that year two hundred and eighty bushels of barley, over three thousand bushels of potatoes, and a large quantity of other vegetables. The increase from the four cows he received two years since is eleven head. This may appear large, but such is the fact.

Lieut.-Gov. Laird reported in 1877, “That some of the bands within the limits of Treaties Numbers Four and Six sowed grain and potatoes with good results that year, one band having about one hundred acres under cultivation. ” He also states that the Indians are very desirous of farming, and that he has hopes that a much larger quantity of seed will be sown next year (1879). He also states that the band at White Fish Lake, raised enough that year to maintain themselves without going to hunt. The Superintendent also reported
that in the Manitoba superintendency “a general desire to be taught farming, building and other civilized arts exists, and some of the Indians in Treaty Number Three, living in the vicinity of Fort Francis, are said to evince enterprise and progress in their farming operations.” At Lac Seule, also in this treaty, the progress of the Indians is quite marked. They have established two villages in order to have the benefit of schools.

The Indian agent in the Lake Manitoba district makes a similar statement. One band has eighteen small farms of one hundred acres in all, on which they raise potatoes, Indian corn and garden vegetables. They have twenty-nine houses, twenty-four horses, and thirty-six head of cattle, of their own. Another built during the year a good school-house, nineteen new houses, and had one hundred and twenty-five acres under cultivation. Another had just begun farming, built six houses, two stables and a barn, and possess seven head of cattle. Still another had twenty-three houses and one hundred and fifty acres under tillage, raising barley, wheat, potatoes and vegetables, and having thirty-six head of cattle. It is unnecessary to multiply instances, of the aptitude, the Indians are exhibiting, within so recent a period after the completion of the treaties, to avail themselves of obtaining their subsistence from the soil.  Their desire to do so, should be cultivated to the fullest extent. They are, of course, generally ignorant of the proper mode of farming.
In the year 1876, I reported to the Minister of he Interior, the Hon. David Mills, after my eturn from the negotiation of the treaties at Forts Carlton and Pitt, “that measures ought to be taken to instruct the Indians in farming and building.”

I said “that their present mode of living is passing away; the Indians are tractable, docile and willing to learn. I think that advantage should be taken of this disposition to teach them to become self-supporting, which can best be accomplished by the aid of a few practical farmers and carpenters to instruct them in farming and house-building. ”

This view was corroborated by my successor, Lieutenant-Governor Laird, who in 1878 reported from Battleford “that if it were possible to employ a few good, practical men to aid and instruct the Indians at seed time, I am of opinion that most of the bands on the Saskatchewan would soon be able to raise sufficient crops to meet their most pressing wants.”  It is satisfactory to know, that the Government of Canada, decided to act on these suggestions, at least in part, and have during the past summer sent farm instructors into the Plain country. It is to be hoped, that this step may prove as fruitful of good results, as the earnest desire of the Indians to farm would lead us to believe it may be.

And now I come, to a very important question, What is to be the future of the Indian population of the North-West? I believe it to be a hopeful one. I have every confidence in the desire and ability of the present administration, as of any succeeding one, to carry out the provisions of the treaties, and to extend a helping hand to this helpless population. That, conceded, with the machinery at their disposal, with a judicious selection of agents and farm instructors, and the additional aid of well-selected carpenters, and efficient school teachers, I look forward to seeing the Indians, faithful allies of the Crown, while they can gradually be made an increasing and self-supporting population. They are wards of Canada, let us do our duty by them, and repeat in the North-west, the success which has attended our dealings with them in old Canada, for the last hundred years.

But the Churches too have their duties to fulfil. There is a common ground between the Christian Churches and the Indians, as they all believe as we do, in a Great Spirit. The transition thence to the Christian’s God is an easy one.  Many of them appeal for missionaries, and utter the Macedonian cry, “come over and help us.” The Churches have already done and are doing much. The Church of Rome has its bishops and clergy,  who have long been laboring assiduously and actively. The Church of England has its bishops and clergy on the shores of the Hudson’s Bay, in the cold region of the Mackenzie and the dioceses of Rupert’s Land and Saskatchewan. The Methodist Church has its missions on Lake Winnipeg, in the Saskatchewan Valley, and on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The Presbyterians have lately commenced a work among the Chippewas and Sioux.
There is room enough and to spare, for all, and the Churches should expand and maintain their work. Already many of the missionaries have made records which will live in history: among those of recent times, Archbishop Taché, Bishop Grandin, Père Lacombe, and many others of the Catholic Church; Bishops Machray, Bompas, Archdeacons Cochran and Cowley of the Church of England; Revs. Messrs. Macdougall of the Wesleyan and Nisbet of the Presbyterian Churches, have lived and labored, and though some of them have gone to their rest, they have left and will leave behind them a record of self-denial, untiring zeal, and many good results. Let the Churches persevere and prosper.

And now I close. Let us have Christianity and civilization to leaven the mass of heathenism and paganism among the Indian tribes; let us have a wise and paternal Government faithfully carrying out the provisions of our treaties, and doing its utmost to help and elevate the Indian population, who have been cast upon our care, and we will have peace, progress, and concord among them in the North-West; and instead of the Indian melting away, as one of them in older Canada, tersely put it, “as snow before the sun,” we will see our Indian population, loyal subjects of the Crown, happy, prosperous and self-sustaining, and Canada will be enabled to feel, that in a truly patriotic spirit, our country has done its duty by the red men of the North-West, and thereby to herself. So may it be. 


This mindset was the same in America in the 1800s.  Taking children was part of the extinction plan for colonizers to grab more land. …Lara

Read more of Morris here:

Published by Lara/Trace

...mosaic artist ...poet... blog consultant... content curator... news junkie (My Memoir: One Small Sacrifice will be republished)

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