Treaties: Between 1871 and 1921, Aboriginal people negotiated 11 treaties in Western Canada. All treaties began as such: “It is the desire of her Majesty to open up to settlement and immigration a tract of country, (description of land) and to obtain the consent thereto of her Indian subjects inhabiting the said tract of land and to make a treaty and arrangements with them so that there may be peace and goodwill.” (Saskatchewan People by Zenon Pohorecky at the University of Saskatchewan copyright 1977.)
Following the Deed of Surrender of the Hudson’s Bay Company to the Crown in 1869, events that had readied the North West for settlement were the creation of the province of Manitoba in 1870, the Dominion Lands Act (Homestead Act) of 1872, the creation of the paramilitary force, the North West Mounted Police in 1873, the organization of the Council of the North West Territories in 1873.
The photo commemorates Treaty No. 4 signed at Fort Qu’Appelle in 1874, where Chiefs of the Saulteaux, Cree and Assiniboine Nations affixed their signature to the surrender of seventy-five thousand square miles of what is now southern Saskatchewan, including Yorkton since its founding in 1882 by the York Farmers’ Colonization Company of Toronto, and a portion of southern Alberta. One of the major events for the successful opening of the West was the promise by the Dominion Government of a transcontinental railway, which was agreed upon in 1881. In 1882 the government organized Provisional Districts to ensure better governance. Yorkton was located within the boundaries of the Provisional District of Assiniboia, which comprised what is now southern Saskatchewan and part of southern Alberta, including Medicine Hat.
The Government of Canada and the courts understand treaties between the Crown (Monarch) and Aboriginal People to be solemn agreements, as we all should accept since settlement of the West would not have occurred — as we know it.
Contact Terri Lefebvre Prince,
City of Yorkton Archives,
Box 400, 37 Third Avenue North,
Yorkton, Sask. S3N 2W3