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The Treaties
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Treaty Five
The Fifth of the Eleven Treaties
  • As Canada became more settled, the Royal Proclamation declared that negotiation had to be made with the Native populations. And the natives in the North were anxious about resolving a treaty.
  • The government had held back, attesting that the agricultural lands in the North were poor, and that it would be hard to implement an agricultural lifestyle on native reserves in the area. Because these were low priority lands, the government had avoided the treaty process.
  • When the Indians of the area wrote a letter expressing their wish to enter treaty and receive construction tools, Lieutenant Governor Morris thought entering treaty might be a good idea. The area included Lake Winnipeg, which could be a beneficial passage for the newly introduced steamships. He also thought it a good idea to promote settlement along the lake.
  • Also the Indians of Norway House were starving and pleaded to the government for a relocation to the Manitoba area, where they could learn to farm on a reserve. Because of this, as well as signs of mineral discovery in the area, and the potential for lumbering, it was decided that a separate treaty would be best.
Treaty Provisions
  • Morris and the minister of the Interior, David Laird, received permission to sign a treaty quickly, and quickly set the conditions. Each family of five received 160 acres, the bands kept their right to hunt, liquor was to be prohibited and schools set up if needed.
  • Annuities of five dollars per person, fifteen dollars per headman, and twenty-five dollars per chief were decided upon. Five hundred dollars per year was for ammunition and twine. Chiefs and headmen received new clothing every three years. A one-time presentation of five hundred dollars per head and farm stock, tools, equipment, flags and medals was to be made.
  • Because the land was poor agriculturally, annuities were less, the people received less money per year and reserve locations were to be decided upon immediately.
  • In return Morris and Laird secured all the land surrounding Lake Winnipeg for the government, ignoring the Northern reaches, where little could be grown.
  • Because all the conditions were set before Laird and Morris met with the Indians, it became evident the native peoples would have little input. Starting September 17, in 1785, the pair traveled on the Colville, securing the signatures of different bands, starting with Berens River Band and the Norway House band and on to others. In 1876, Morris hired Thomas Howard and J. Lestock Reid to travel to the remaining bands for signatures.
The Difficulties of the Treaty
  • However, with some of the bands so spread out, difficulties in appointing chiefs and leadership surfaced, and there were some miscommunications.
  • Morris and other treaty supervisors also found they had trouble with picking a specific reserve Norway House agreed on.
  • Some bands had trouble dividing up money, and others asked for new treaties. However the government persisted, and completed the first phase of treaty promises, finding about 2500 natives under the jurisdiction of the treaty.
  • The haste of treaty five also brought troubles in deciding the size and area of reserves; native protests were reduced to misunderstandings enhanced by the language barrier. In 1877 nine reserves were surveyed, and as they were established, and through the first years of settlements, there was still much controversy from the native's side about the terms of the treaty. The Norway band asked for more land, the Cumberland band appealed their reserve annually.
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