Alexander Morris and the Saulteaux : the context and making of treaty three, 1869-73
Master of Arts
MetadataShow full item record
The primary purpose of this thesis is to explore and analyze the circumstances surrounding the Treaty Three agreement between the Canadian government and the Anishinabe in 1873. The agreement is important for a number of reasons. The Anishinabe won significant concessions from Canada that, not only led to the renegotiation of Treaties One and Two, but set the standard for the rest of the numbered treaties across Western Canada as well. It is helpful to remember that while most of the other numbered treaties were signed in a matter of weeks, Treaty Three was over four years in the making. The Anishinabe realized the value of their land and insisted on key demands from the Dominion government. They remained committed to their basic position from 1869 when they first issued a copy of their demands to the Canadian government until 1873 when they finally signed Treaty Three. These demands went far beyond what Indian agents were commissioned by the Canadian cabinet to agree to. The Anishinabe realized this and held up the talks until they could negotiate with a representative of the Queen, who they believed had the authority to deal with their demands. In 1873, they received such an individual in Alexander Morris, the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and the North-West Territories. The Anishinabe could not have realized at the time that Morris’ instructions were as narrow as the other representatives who had earlier attempted to negotiate a treaty with them. It is not surprising that Morris has received much of the credit for negotiating Treaty Three which had eluded the Canadian government since the Riel Resistance. However, a careful examination of the available evidence suggests that the agreement was made possible by the work of Simon Dawson and his associates Richard Pither and Nicholas Chatelain on one hand and James McKay and other Metis leaders of the Red River community who accompanied Morris to Lake of the Woods in 1873. This paper argues that it was a combination of these two factors, the rank that Morris enjoyed in the eyes of the Anishinabe and the role played Dawson, McKay and the rest of the Canadian negotiating team that led to the successful agreement in 1873. In the 1870’s, Canadian officials referred to the Anishinabe as the Saulteaux. There is no evidence available that suggests that they ever called themselves by this term. Nevertheless, all of the primary and many of the secondary sources use the word Saulteaux, so, for sake of consistency and in order to avoid confusion, I have decided to use it throughout this paper.