First Nations

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First Nations

History of First Nations before 1837

Lake of the Woods was part of Lake Agassiz, the inland sea created by melting of a glacier which included Lake of the Woods, Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. About 2000 BC, the approximate present shoreline of Lake of the Woods was established. The first inhabitants may well date from this period. A much later people, the " Laurel Culture" built burial mounds on both sides of the Rainey River. Somewhere around 1000 BC a new people arrived establishing the "Blackduck Culture. This group left rock paintings around the Lake. By the time the French arrived the Cree and Chippewa (Ojibway) occupied the area. The Ojibway moved in from the Sault Ste Marie area and were friendly with the Cree but engaged in steady struggle with the Sioux from the plains. By 1800 the Lake of the Woods were controlled by the Ojibway. The Cree moved Northward.

The first trading post was established on Lake of the Woods in 1732 at Fort St. Charles. by La Verendrye. The Aboriginal people in the area already had muskets, metal pots and other trade goods traded with the Hudson Bay Company in the north. For fur trades to pass through the water routes and lands, they had to negotiate with local bands and make payments of some form.

Hudson Bay, Treaties, Dawson Trail and Railways

The Hudson Bay The company was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1670 as "The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson's Bay" watershed, known as Rupert's Land. The Royal Charter granted it a trading monopoly over the Hudson Bay watershed. From its headquarters at York Factory on Hudson Bay it controlled the fur trade throughout much of what is North west Canada. Undertaking early exploration, its traders and trappers forged relationships with many groups of First Nations. It had for many years been successful in securing the goodwill of the various tribes. In 1821, when the company merged with the North West Company, the Charter was renewed for a period of 21 years.

However as the century aged opposition to the company's monopoly grew. In 1863, a group calling itself the International Financial Society (IFS) led by Edward Watkin, bought up Hudson Bay stock by offering £300 for every £100 of stock – at a time when the market price was £190. The new owners hoped for a windfall based on selling or leveraging the Company’s vast land holdings. Britain promote it, but fundamentally settlement and the fur trade were at cross-purposes. As long as the fur trade was the Company’s primary focus, settlement would never garner wide support among its shareholders or staff. In 1866, following a shareholders’ revolt the Company embarked on negotiations to sell its territories, first to Britain, and then to the United Province of Canada which had no means to purchase them.

In 1867 the British North America Act(B.N.A. Act) of 1867 established Canada as a self-governing country. Section 146 provided:

It shall be lawful for the Queen … on address from the Houses of the Parliament of Canada and from the Houses of the respective Legislatures of the Colonies or Provinces of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia, to admit those colonies or Provinces … into the Union, and on address from the Houses of the Parliament of Canada to admit Rupert’s Land and the North-western Territory … into the Union, on such Terms and Conditions in each Case as are … expressed and the Queen thinks fit to approve ...

In 1868 the British Parliament passed the Rupert’s Land Act, “An Act for enabling Her Majesty to accept a Surrender upon Terms of the Lands, Privileges and Rights of ‘The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England trading into Hudson’s Bay’ and for admitting the same into the Dominion of Canada.” Rupert's land was surrendered to Great Britain in 1869 and Canada purchased it.. By the terms of the Deed of Surrender, Hudson Bay received £300K in cash compensation from Canada, 1/20 of all lands to be surveyed in the Fertile Belt – an area bounded by the 49th parallel, the Rockies, the North Saskatchewan River and the Lake of the Woods/ Winnipeg River waterway and lands – or reserves – around each of its posts. Profit from the sale of these lands would be the Company’s primary source of revenue for years to come. Hudson Bay was also guaranteed the right to continue its trade without hindrance or any special taxation or tariffs.

The Company signed the Deed of Surrender on Nov. 19, 1869. The Canadian government ratified the deal December 1st. Just days later London received word of the North West Rebellion. Jumping the gun, the Canadian government had sent an advance party of surveyors to Red River to measure up its new territory – without even notifying the Métis inhabitants. Ensuing events delayed the finalization of the Deed until the following summer. Hudson Bay delivered the executed Deed to the Colonial Office on May 7, 1870. On May 11th Canada’s London representative instructed its bankers to pay the compensation to Hudson Bay which had been on deposit since November. Finally, on June 22nd 1870 the Queen accepted the Surrender from HBC. The following day, June 23rd, an Order in Council was passed transferring Rupert’s Land and the North West Territories to Canada, effective July 15th, 1870. The Manitoba Act, which had been negotiated in the winter and spring and passed by the Canadian government in May, came into effect the very same day, July 15, 1870. British Columbia would gain its provincial status the very next year.

Negotiation of Treaties

The Indians in Manitoba in the fall of 1870 applied to the Lieutenant Governor Archibald of Manitoba and the North-West Territories to enter into a treaty with them. They were uneasy owing to the influx of settlers.

[Relationship of Natives and Hudson Bay / Dawson Trail / Negotiations on Treaty 1/2 then Treaty 3]

The construction of a railway to British Columbia was a condition of British Columbia entering confederation in 1871. Most of the land on which the railway would be built required that treaties be concluded. The first Indian Act was passed in 1876. Negotiations on treaties followed. The Honourable Joseph Howe then Secretary of State recommended the appointment , by the Privy Council of Canada of Mr Wemyss McKenzie Simpson, as Indian Commissioner, in consequences of the necessity of arranging with the bands of Indians inhabiting the tract of country

Our History:Business: Fur Trade: The Deed of Surrender ( accessed October 27 2016

Lund, Duane R. Lake of the Woods, Yesterday and Today, Staples , Minnesota: Nordell Graphic Communication, 1975

Lund, Duane R. Lake of the Woods, Earliest Accounts, Staples, Minnesota: Nordell Graphic Communication 1984

McQuarrie, Neil, The Forgotten Trail, From Prince Arthur's Landing to Red River Brandon: MJM enterprises 2013

Morris, Alexander, The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North -West Territories including The Negotiations on which they were based , Calgary:Fifth House Publishers Reprint of same title first printed in 1880 Toronto: Belfords, Clarke & Co Publishers 1880