(Map courtesy of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Alberta Region)
1. Why was a treaty required in this time and place? (Karrie Bedford)
The treaty was required in this time and place as part of the terms of introducing British Columbia into confederation in 1871. Also, the government wanted to extend the railway to the western regions, resulting in negotiations between the indigenous peoples of the Northwest. This resulted in the formation of treaties to accompany for the land that was needed to put the creation of the railway into action.
2. What First Nations were included in this treaty? (Clancy Waite)
The groups of First Nations people involved in this treaty were the Indians of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories – the Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan, Sacree, Stony and other Indians. These natives lived above the US boarder, East of the Rocky Mountains and West of those involved in Treaties number 6 and 4, although new land divisions were drawn in the treaty. Those directly involved in the treaty process included the Chiefs and Minor Chiefs or councilors of the tribes.
3. What did these people want from the treaty process? (Lauren Foote)
In this treaty, the native peoples involved were essentially giving up their rights to the land. Some of the natives involved wanted better treaty terms than the ones they eventually settled for, or were unsure as to whether they should sign right away, most notably Crowfoot. However, in the end, Crowfoot wanted a stable relationship with the government to help his people survive in peace. The threat of the buffalo’s numbers dwindling also played a factor in the decision to sign. Also, most of the natives trusted in the British government as well as those involved in this treaty, such as James MacLeod, an inspector for the Northwest Mounted Police. There were some problems with translations in drawing up the treaty, especially with conveying the idea of giving up land rights, as this concept did not exist to the natives.
In the end, the Natives gave up their rights to the land, with the hope for peace and stability for all. In return, they were promised several things. They received hunting rights within the land that was given to the government. Each family of five received a reserve of one square mile that was to be theirs. Also, the treaty stated that each native would receive a sum of money each year from the government. The native communities also received cattle and some farming equipment, teachers for education, and money for ammunition.
4. What did the government want from the treaty process? (Alexander Thompson)
From the government’s perspective, the need for Treaty Seven was immediate and simple. As part of the terms of bringing British Columbia into Confederation in 1871, the Canadian government had promised to build a trans-continental railway within ten years. Such a line would have to traverse the newly acquired western territories, through land still nominally in control of Indian tribes. Huge land concessions would need to be offered to the company building the railway and later, the existence of the line would encourage large-scale immigration to the western prairies.
The Government wished to gain from Treaty Seven from the Blackfeet, Blood, Piegan, Sarcee, Stony and other Indians inhabiting the district to cede, release, surrender, and yield up to the Government of Canada all rights, titles and privileges to their hunting grounds. They also had to promise to live at peace with Indians, Métis, and whites, to obey the Queen’s law, and to refrain from molesting anyone in the surrender territory.
The specific areas of land that the government wished to cede from the indigenous peoples:
The area specified within the treaty was as such: commencing at a point on the International Boundary due south of the western extremity of the Cypress Hills, thence west along the said boundary to the central range of the Rocky Mountains, or to the boundary of the Province of British Columbia, thence north-westerly along the said boundary to a point due west of the source of the main branch of the Red Deer River, thence south-westerly and southerly following on the boundaries of the Tracts ceded by the Treaties numbered six and four to the place of commencement; And also all their rights, titles and privileges whatsoever, to all other lands wherever situated in the North-West Territories, or in any other portion of the Dominion of Canada.
5. What were the treaties core provisions? (Haley Wadden)
The treaty’s core provisions established a delimited area of land for the tribes essentially putting them on a reserve; it promised annual payments and/or provisions from the Queen to the tribes and promised that the tribe would be allowed to keep their hunting and trapping rights. In exchange for these provisions the tribes ceded their rights to their traditional territory, of which they had earlier been recognized as the owners.
6. What is the status of the treaty today? (Chloe Betuik)
This treaty is still in effect, and some passages are in the Indian Act as well. Treaty Seven saw many non-fulfillment claims, and notably in 1973 the Government of Canada reached a settlement with the tribes for $250,000 due to a lack of payment since the 1880s for the ammunition clause.
According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC), many Natives still hold misconceptions about the treaty due to the culture barrier when the agreement was created. Requests which were not specifically rejected were thought to be approved in the minds of the Natives, which created a legacy of misconception about the actual content of the treaty.
There exists a Treaty 7 Management Corporation which promises advocacy and advisory services to the seven tribes in the treaty. It also exists to further the initiatives in the treaty, as well as to protect the rights of the tribes.
(Treaty 7 Management Corporation Logo)
Hugh A. Dempsey, “Treaty Research Report – Treaty Seven (1877)”. Last Modified: Sept. 15, 2010. http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1100100028789/1100100028791#chp5
Treaty 7 Management Corporation. Accessed Jan 18, 2012. http://www.treaty7.org/Default.aspx