i. Why was a treaty required in this time and place?
At this point in time a treaty was needed between the government of Canada and certain groups of First Nation peoples in Saskatchewan and a small area of Alberta. Previous treaties had been drawn up for neighboring aboriginals and the government’s goal was to provide a similar treaty to these aforementioned peoples. As trade and settlement expanded west, conflict over the land began to arise. The government of Canada wished to have a concise and legal document indicating exactly what land could be settled and traded upon and what land would remain as First Nations hunting grounds.
ii. What First Nations were included in this treaty?
The native groups which were included in this treaty were the Chipewyan Indians of English River and Clear Lake, and the Crees of Canoe Lake, in the northern part of Saskatchewan.
By the 19th century Chipewyan lands included northern portions of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the southern part of the NWT. They were primarily a hunter-gatherer society, basing their hunting on the migratory herds of Barren Ground caribou.
The Chipewyan language is a branch of the northeastern Athapaskan language family, and in 1749, the population was estimated at approximately 4000 individuals.
The Cree peoples lived on an endless stretch of forested terrain, and hunted the abundant wildlife which dwelled there, as well as fished in the widespread lakes. They were a member of the Algonquin group of natives, and like the Chipewyans, were not initially under direct pressure from other tribes or Europeans until the emergence of trade.
iii. The English River band’s chief even claimed that the government should pay them arrears meaning that they want to be compensated for the years after the first treaty signing. Some Indians even expected to be entirely fed by the government and all asked to be given assistance in the times of distress (for example in winter). It was also strongly stated that the old and the poor who could not hunt and trap should be cared for by the government. There was also a general fear that hunting and fishing privileges would become more restricted and/or commercial fishing would deplete the lakes and rivers. Some natives wanted to secure educational privileges for their children. The English River band’s chief insisted that the government should carry out their Indian education policy. This entailed no interference with the religious schools run by the mission but they wanted public aid to be given for improvement and extensions along the lines that were already followed. The canoe lake chief asked for a day school be built and be put under the management of a woman teacher. Some demanded a few head of cattle so that the few who wished could get into the business of raising cattle. All the Indians agreed on the payments but wanted the payments to be given every year in mid June. The Indians then requested medicines be given and made a serious appeal for a resident doctor or as they called it a ‘medical man’. A large demand was for ammunition and twine because many natives would continue as they had to hunt and fish for their living.
iv. What did the government want from the treaty process?
v. What were the treaties core provisions?
The core provisions of treaty No. 10 differs for Natives and half-Natives. Half-Natives received compensation according to an already established fashion, which granted 240 acres of scrip that could be redeemed for 240$. The core provisions for Natives are far more detailed and regard land grants, systems for financial assistance, and also special hunting, fishing and trapping exceptions. The terms of the land grants are that each family of five, living within the reserve, were granted one square mile of land. Natives who choose to live outside the reserve system were granted 160 acres of land. These Native lands, with the consent of the Natives, were subject to the government’s selling or leasing for public purposes, and would be compensated with land or money. The financial element of the treaty included yearly payments of 5$ per person, 15$ per headman, and 25$ per chief. Financial aids included the distribution of clothing to each chief and headman every three years along with an annual distribution of ammunition and twine. Also assistance was to be directed towards agriculture and stock rising. There was also a presentation of flags and medals and an initial gift of 12$ per person, 22$ per headman, 32$ per chief. Special privileges were granted to Natives who remained the right to hunt, fish and trap. These rights were subject to government regulations and excluded land used by the public. The final provision regarded education that was to be provided, as the government deemed necessary.
vi. What is the status of the treaty today?
Treaty 10 is still an active piece of legislation today. Defining exactly what the treaty guarantees modern aboriginal individuals is a difficult process. Multiple aboriginal organisations make use of or defend the treaty. This includes the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, an organisation that negotiates for dozens of First Nations. The Office of the Treaty Commissioner was created in 1996, to assist in communication between Saskatchewan treaty groups and the government of Canada.
In 2006, the Saskatchewan Provincial government gave $70,000 dollars to help fund a centennial celebration of the signing of Treaty 10, signifying a bright future for the treaty.