Reservations and canadian government policy

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This section of my study covered the period from the first numbered treaty in the west to the year of the 1886 Indian Act.

It is a long section and we have split it in two parts.

Once more my study will lay in its course from the words of the one the Canadians called the "naked savage" who said:
This day is like a darkness to me; and I am not prepared to answer. All is darkness to me how to plan for the future welfare of my grandchildren. (Manitoban, Sat. Aug. 5, 1871)
So spoke Tie-te-pe-pe-tung, when he was faced with the dark principle of Canadian greed at the time of the treaty.
I hope that this study will shed light upon the nature of that evil principle and reveal the greater triumph of the Ojibwa people who have not only survived it but are come to the time when they gather their strength and do battle for their rights.
The early Canadian arrivals in the west had made their moves in response to an upturn in the British Empire's economy. In the broad economic view the period 1870 through 1873 was one of the expansion of European exploitation of the world's resources, including the resources of those Indian homelands already occupied. Such periods of rapid expansion or "progress" as they prefer to call it is often called an economic "boom".

In the following description of this particular boom the reader will note that major keys to this expansion was money lending and railroad building:
. . . the hectic prosperity of the years 1869-73 . . . Canada had its modest share. The chartered banks, . . . grew in number and activity; nineteen new banks began business between Confederation and 1874; the total capital grew from thirty millions in 1868 to sixty six in 1878. . . . Railway mileage increased in even greater proportion. Railway mileage in operation doubled in the same period; exports were more than half as great again, and imports advanced even more rapidly. I government revenues followed suit, increasing from thirteen millions to twenty-four in 1874. (Skelton 1913:136)

In those days before income tax the Canadian government relied on excise duties for revenue. Called tariffs, they could also be used to protect favoured Canadian businesses from foreign competition.

When I observed this economic system at work in history I came to understand why the Canadian government first stole the Ojibwa homelands and then proceeded to give away millions of acres for nothing or next to nothing.

It was because the lands were useless to them until those lands had been "improved" by settlement and the "owners" of that land purchased goods using money generated by those improvements. Or a natural resource like trees were improved by cutting them down or fish were improved by over fishing the stock or minerals were mined out.

Canadian political power like all political power depended entirely on money and each politician was part of a process by which this money was collected and redistributed.

Political contributions or bribes from individuals and corporations were fed into one end of the system along with the revenue from the tax on resources. Then out the other end spewed the directed stream of patronage. If course those standing in the direct line of this stream were the "friends" of the government in power.

The political means by which this stream was directed in Canadian society has three main factors which must be recognized and understood They are, one, patronage, two, the fact that Canada’s socio-political structure is a vertical democracy and, three, that whole economic system of which patronage is a key element can be best described as Capital Socialism.

Now I know the basic tenets of a political patronage system are quite simple; "special interests" give the politician money to get elected, then as friends of the government the stream of patronage is directed into their pockets .

The result of this system is a Capital Socialistic society, The term capital socialism is chosen to describe this economic system for the following reasons. First, Socialism, theoretically, advocates public ownership of the means of production. Further, it advocates that production should meet the public need not profit (Funk and Wagnall 1955:1239). Capitalism on the other hand, theoretically advocates "private" wealth, lawfully acquired by private enterprise under "free competition" (Funk and Wagnall 1955:202).

However neither of these states exist in reality and they did not in Manitoba and the territories in the 1870s.

What has occurred in Canada is an economic system which is a combined mirror image of both these systems.

Consider; enterprise was not free in Canada for competition was eliminated by the process of patronage and protectionism. At the same time the production processes which included transportation and utilities were built with the public purse but was then given over to private interests.

This system continues to exist in Canada because Canadian democracy is vertical rather than horizontal.

To understand the difference between a vertical democracy and a horizontal one might consider the following morality tale:

A young son of the house comes home to the family apartment on the fourth floor of an apartment block and says to his father, "I heard today that we live in a vertical democracy father, what does that mean?" "My son," said the father, "go outside and stand under our balcony and I will teach you the difference," which the boy did immediately

When the boy was standing in place below the balcony the father poured water over the edge of the balcony. The boy jumped back out of the stream in surprise.

"Now," said his father, "because this is a democracy you have the right to do the same thing to me." The boy started to come back in. "Oh no!" shouted his father, "this is a vertical democracy if you wish to do it to me you must do it from down there "

Thus in the Canadian vertical democracy the voter has the right to vote once in each election and that vote may elect or defeat a party. But the needs of the voter are met in direct proportion to his position on a vertical scale, based on his personal wealth and his position in relationship to the patronage system regardless of which party is in power,

When the elitism of this vertical democracy infiltrates the political structure of an Indian nation it indicates that that nation is well on the road to termination.

Just how were the Indian people supposed to fit into this Canadian socio-economic system? Well, as Indians they could not fit at all. That is the first thing that every Indian child must understand about their history. There is no place for the “Indian” Indian in the system.

That is why, from the onset, it was the unmitigated policy of the Canadian government to "terminate" all Indians one way or another.

However until termination had been accomplished Indians were to be used as a renewable resource within the patronage system.

Consider if you will this ultimate goal of Indian Affairs. Through the "progress" directed by Indian Affairs Indians were to metamorphosis into "white men" or as is the case today, Multicultural-Canadians.

Once terminated, if still alive, their place in Capital Socialism was to be an other source of cheap labour for the means of production. As it was Ojibwa did become, in many cases, cheap labour. They did, however, for the most part avoided the rest of the process.

As this study continues to unfold the reader will come to realize that Ojibwa existence today has depended upon the refusal of their ancestors to adapt traits from the Invader's culture which were detrimental to them, their children and their grandchildren.

Their success has not been absolute as they are not superhuman and they have lost many of their children to the horrors of alcohol and other drugs and to the social problems that still plague them today. Indeed cities like Winnipeg have taken on the characteristics of the windigo.

The term pragmatic adaptation is one way of describing the cultural process by which people make their choices of what to use and what not to use from other cultures. The ojibwa are not isolationists nor are they locked in the past.
That is why so much of the Indian Act and the policy of the Department of Indian Affairs was contrived to overcome that system of pragmatism and force the ojibwa to submit to the paternalism of the Canadian government. For if the Ojibwa are right the government must be wrong.

Left to themselves I have seen the Ojibwa bicker, argue, sulk, joke, laugh and tease until they had their consensus and when they are done they are strong in the knowledge that they are all equal in their horizontal democracy.

That horizontal democracy is the last and strongest ring of protection and with it stands the spirit of the Chief Speakers you have met in this study, the "naked savages" of their history.

If this ring is breached evil besets their community and the very spirit of their existence is wounded. Then in pain and anger I have seen them strike out among themselves often drawing their own blood in their agony. An awful thing to comprehend.

If the wounds remain unhealed they fester and the vultures gather. But when the spirit of their democracy speaks to them and reminds them that the responsibility of their freedom is their grandchildren then the breach is healed once more and the vultures leave again in disgust.

The Canadians have always said that Ojibwa freedom, their horizontal society, is the thing that impedes their progress into the benumbing unconsciousness of Canada’s vertical democracy.

And they are absolutely correct.

Those who are truly Ojibwa must make that decision every day of their lives, whether to be Indian or not to be Indian, and that responsibility is with them forever.

They do not claim to be perfect, or superhuman or "noble" savages for that matter, for they know they are the foolish children of Kije-Manito, the Master of Life. They may at times seem to be "as lint in his pocket" but they are not lint in any "man's" pocket.

They try to hold to the ideals of the Chief Speaker and are ashamed when they do not achieve those ideals.

But they need no other person to point out those shortcomings. Certainly not me. Each knows that the spirit that is within them will call them to task, tell them to try harder.

It is not punishment that they fear but the soul wrenching pain of regret that they have capitulated even for a moment in the war they must fight, for their own personal survival as an Indian. Beyond that they are all warriors in the struggle for the survival of their communities
Nowhere in the negotiations did either Ojibwa or the Canadians speak of surrender of natural resources. Indeed, Simpson made a point in the treaty negotiations to point out the uselessness for farming of certain regions of the greater Ojibwa homelands .The Canadian's always kept the focus on agricultural occupation,

The Ojibwa assumed, as it was not raised, that all unoccupied ie: untitled lands were there to exploit as before.

Nothing in the negotiations referred to natural resource leases. That was part of the hidden agenda and the initial resource the Canadians sought to exploit was timber. and leading this assault was the Hudson Bay Company and the lumber speculators of Winnipeg.

When the people of Treaty One continued to use the trees as they had before the treaty and in manners they understood the treaty to allow they soon discovered that they were in breech of Canadian "Yahweh law." This was their first taste from the reservations of the injustice of the Canadian legal system.

The Proclamation of March 1, 1872 says it all:
Published by Authority




Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, &c., &c., zc.


To all whom it may concern.

Whereas, We have learned with regret that our loving subjects, the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, are ill-informed as to their rights, under the Treaties made with them, and whereas we are most anxious that they should clearly understand this important point.

We do therefore proclaim and make known to all our loving subjects the Indians aforesaid, that from the date of the Treaties made with them at Lower Fort Garry and Lake Manitoba, they have no right to cut any wood or timber on land not within the limits of the Reserves allotted to them under the said Treaties, and we therefore hereby strictly forbid them to cut any timber or wood for sale, on any land outside of such Reserves, or to interfere with or molest any white person who shall be found cutting on land outside such Reserves.

We do further proclaim and make known that if such white persons shall cut wood or timber on any lands outside the Indian Reserves, without license or authority from us, we shall hold such persons liable and punish them ourselves therefor; but we forbid our Indian subjects to interfere with or molest them in any way.

We further hereby proclaim and make known to our loving subjects the Indians aforesaid that within the limits of the lands reserved for them no white man is permitted to cut any timber or wood.

That the Indians are at liberty to cut thereon all such wood and timber as they may require for their own use, either for fuel, fencing or buildings on the Reserve, but they will not be allowed to cut wood to sell or to give to white people or Traders.

That it is our wish to keep the Reserves for the Indians and their children after them as a home where they and their children may have land to till, and fencing to enclose it, and wood for their buildings.

That if the Indians were allowed to sell or give to traders, the wood growing on their Reserves, in a short time the lands would be stripped of timber and would be no longer fitted for the use of the Indians as a home.

We therefore strictly enjoin all our loving Indian subjects to observe this our Proclamation, and not to do any act which would destroy or injure the Reserves we have made for their benefit, and the benefit of their posterity; and we forbid them to interfere with any white men who may cut on our domain, outside the Reserves, leaving it to us to prevent or punish any person so cutting without our leave.

And in order that all our subjects, whether Indians or whites, may know exactly the location and limits of the several reserves made by the said Treaties, we append to this proclamation a description of the same, taken from the Treaties.

In Testimony thereof, we have caused these, our letters, to be made patent, and the Great Seals of Manitoba and our North-West Territories to be hereunto affixed.

Witness our trusty and well-beloved, the Honourable ADAMS GEORGE ARCHIBALD, Lieutenant-Governor of our said Province of Manitoba, and of our said North-West Territories, at our Government House, in Fort Garry, in our Dominion, the twenty-sixth day of February in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, and in the thirty fifth year of our reign.

By Command,


Private Secretary.

(PAM MG 12 A1 #886)

This was the first of many racist enactments by the Canadian government which would be used to deprive the Ojibwa of their right to make a livelihood.

It is the worst kind of racism in as much that it assumes that the Ojibwa being "savages" could only derive a livelihood from "hunting", whereas their economy was a diverse one and included many aspects of resource usage, not the least of which was the cutting and selling of timber for cash.

To deprive the Indians their rightful access to this and other natural resources without compensation was blatant robbery, not the open robbery of the highwayman but that of the petty miserable sneak thief.

Even more devastating to the Ojibwa was the utter destruction of the sugar woods by the International Company and lumber pirates like McArthur and Burrows. This would deprive the children of much needed energy in the spring after the long winters.

Many would not strengthen on fish eggs alone and would ultimately die when they encountered the diseases of the Euro-African-Asians because they lacked that additional edge in the spring.

But that was not enough the Canadian capital interests added over fishing to the matrix.
In April of 1872 under the Dominion lands Act the surveys being done and those to be done would be given "statutory confirmation", that is to say, that which was laid down on the ground was "legal" once it was duly processed by the department of the Interior.

When Gilbert McMicken was appointed Crown land agent of Manitoba August 1, 1871 and opened an office in Winnipeg (Kemp 1950:62) the organized exploitation of Indian homelands by Canada officially began

In the following report there are three important aspects of the prosses. They are the railway plans; the timber exploitation and “farm” land in the northwest territories.

JUNE, 1875.

The Block Surveys, have been located with a view to effecting the

subdivision of the townships along the line of the Canadian Pacific

Railway, between the Lake of the Woods and Fort Pelly; also easterly of

the Lake of the Woods to the Rainy Lake.
Effect has been given to your instructions relative to laying out the

Town Plot called "Selkirk," situate on the cast side of the Red River, at the crossing of the latter by the line of Canada Pacific Railway;

also respecting that in the vicinity of Fort Frances, on the Rainy

River, named by you "Alberton."
These are both about completed, the former having been surveyed by Mr. Harris, and the latter by Mr. Caddy, Dominion Land Surveyors.
The survey of Big Black Island, in Lake Winnipeg, granted on certain

conditions as a Timber Limit to Dr. Bown, was completed last year by Mr.

Kennedy, D.L.S.,
The discovery of an extensive tract of excellent land to the westward of

Fort Ellice, on the line of the 102nd Meridian, is of much importance,

and will be received with satisfaction ally as the prevalent idea has

hitherto been that the lands in that part of the Territory were unfit

for settlement. It is confidently hoped that during the continuance of

this survey, many discoveries of a like character will be made, removing existing illusions as to the character of the soil and timber in many

parts of the North-West Territories.

(Library and Archives Canada

Indian Affairs Annual Reports, 1864-1990/ )

About this time, or shortly thereafter, Frank Ogletree applied for and would receive in 1872 the warrant that instituted the Orange Lodge in Portage la Prairie. Interestingly, neither Ogletree nor any of his enclave would attend the first meeting of the Lodge.

This organization of the Orange Lodge was just the first of many of these pseudo-tribal organizations that would exist in Manitoba., such as the Elks, Masons and Knights of Columbus. All during the years the Canadians sought to make Ojibwa cultural organizations illegal they were themselves using these clan-like organizations such as the Orange Lodge to become "one of the boys" and "to get ahead" or as they say today, to network withinthe rings of patronage.

Armstrong, Leader, Meighen, Garland, Burns, McPherson, Marlatt and all the rest, used these organizations to buy their way into office and to organize and hand out local patronage.

These clubs functioned the same way as the churches did to organize gangs of these speculators and exploiters. For example, there was a Christ Church gang in P. la P. and an even bigger Grace Church Methodist gang in Winnipeg. Burrows ran the Winnipeg gang. Sifton also used the church for political and business exploitation.

These clubs, Lodges, and churches were all used to organize Capital Socialism throughout Canada. The "smart operator" got into as many organizations as possible, but always had one church and one club to which he or she fell back to when things got tough.

In the meantime Morris was setting out to cheat the Lake Winnipeg Ojibwa as he was cheating the Plains Ojibwa.
As Jim Mochoruk points out
Morris quickly justified the confidence of his new political masters by negotiating just as well on their behalf; that is to say, with an eye on the economic bottom line. For example, throughout 1873 and early 1874, he negated the idea of concluding a treaty north of treaties I and 2 on the grounds that the lands of those northerly regions were unsuited for agriculture and were therefore of no value to settlers, thereby saving the Dominion a needless set of expenditures, Morris only changed his mind on this matter in the spring of 1874 when it came to his attention that treaties I and 2 did not extend as far north as he had thought. This meant that the Berens River band and their territories were not included in any treaty. Given the growing interest in the fish, timber, and transportation potential of the area, Morris was moved to suggest negotiating a treaty that would have the Cree and Ojibwa cede all the land on the east side of Lake Winnipeg to a depth of thirty two kilometers thereby opening up lands where "probably settlement will ere long arise. "

Within a year, though, Morris was revising this plan for what would have been a small treaty area. In its place, he thought it would be wise to negotiate a treaty that would include the entire Lake Winnipeg region, the unceded portions of the Interlake district, and the lands surrounding the major water routes of the middle north. The reasons for this change were strictly economic. Although both Morris and the minister of the interior, David Laird, maintained that part of the rationale for Treaty 5 was the desire of the Norway House band to take up farmlands further south so they could escape the poverty caused by the HBCs new trans portation policy, which had already thrown many band members out of work, their actual motives were less altruistic. As Laird noted in his 1875 report:
During the last few years Steam navigation has been successfully established on Lake Winnipeg. Indications of valuable minerals and timber have also been found in the vicinity of the lake, and already applications have been made to the Government to purchase land (supposed to contain minerals) at several points in the neighbourhood. On the west side of the lake the soil is admirable for agricultural purposes and the country is in every way adapted for early settlement. Moreover, pending the construction of the portion of the Pacific Railway lying west of Lake Winnipeg, the Lake and the Saskatchewan river are destined to become the principal thoroughfare of communication between Manitoba and the fertile prairies in the West.

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