Before I move back into the chronology of my study I must again go back in time and cover an overview I made in order to understand the Canadian purpose in the numbered treaties. It has often been difficult for an Ojibwa person to grasp the fact that because the invaders did not recognize their title to the homelands in the first place that their proprietorship of the lands was therefore not ceded in the treaty.
What was not recognized could not be extinguish therefore under a just system of law the Ojibwa homelands and their resources still belong to the Ojibwa.
Furthermore the invaders belief that Indian people were not real people with real rights, became embodied in the Canadian Indian Act and the policies derived from that belief.
Once I understood that the Canadians believed that their monarch already owned the Ojibwa homelands I could understand why, once Ojibwa warriors were no longer needed as a resource to fight in English wars, the Ojibwa became just another part of the "Indian Problem" for the Canadians.
The early usefulness of Indians as cannon fodder was officially terminated by the transfer of the Indian Department from the Imperial military department into the hands of the civil bureaucrats in 1830. Thereafter the Indian Act and it's policies existed in order to control what the Canadians considered to be a dangerous and fundamentally useless population by restricting their movements until they died off, or could be transformed into a usable work force by the churches such as the Methodists and their labour philosophy.
Initially the main school of thought that guided the new government policy in Canada was one based upon the principle that the Indians were indeed fated to vanish. The prime function of the policy was to insure that Indian people would be confined to restricted areas and treated with a minimum of consideration and expenditure that encouraged this fate until they became extinct. This policy was maintained as the over-riding, if often hidden, agenda of the department of Indian Affairs well into the twentieth century. However, in time it became clear, even to those who wished the problem would indeed just vanish, that Indian people were not only recovering from the rages of the Invaders' disease and deprivation they were on the increase. Then the second school of thought, that of assimilation, came into ascendancy and manifested itself in the overt amending of the Indian Act by politicians and in Indian Affairs policy changes.
Regardless of which of these schools of policy direction was in ascendancy the ultimate goal of the Indian Department was the extinction of the Indian people as a distinct community and a distinct culture!
In Canada the first major bureaucratic inquiry into the Indian Problem occurred with the Bagot Commission in 1842. At the present time Indian Department historians earn their pay by reiterating the fact that this commission held fast to the premise that all land not already in private hands were public lands, not aboriginal homelands.
Public lands being a euphemism for Crown Lands still in the hands of Yahweh and the English monarch but overseen for that Monarch by the ruling elite in Canada. A few years earlier, in 1839 the pre-Confederation Canadian Government had assumed the role of guardian of the Indian reserves under the Crown Lands Protection Act (2 Victoria, Chap. 5). Under this law all reserve lands remained designated Crown lands.
In other words, according to Canadian law the Indian people remained in exactly the same legal relationship to their remnant homelands, within the reserve boundaries, as they had been before the treaties. Under Canadian law the Indians are not entitled to proprietorship of the land of their reserves either.
Therefore Indian people, continued to be an exploitable resource but one that was now directly controlled by the Canadian political patronage system. For example: as "wards" under the "guardianship" of the Canadian Government Indian people needed guarding. Canadians were therefore given patronage appointments as Commissioners, superintendents, agents, farm instructors, etc. etc., to look after these wards and were paid for doing it.
Having invested this power of guardianship in itself the Canadian government then empowered itself to remove or refuse admittance to the reserves any person they deemed to be undesirable, exclusive of the Indian people of that reserve.
This assumption of tribal, community and band sovereign power by the Canadian Government was the beginning of a deliberate and oppressive policy intended to erode and finally destroy Indian self-government.
Once the absolute legal guardianship of the reserved lands had been assumed the Bagot Commission suggested that licences be sold to the private sector to timber off these lands in order to defray any Indian Department costs. This was a direct seizure of the resources of the Indian people on their remaining land base.
Having thus achieved complete control the Canadian government discontinued the old agreements by which they were obliged to make annual distribution of presents to the military allies of the English crown. This was also done to reduce "expenses,"
Until 1830 the expenses of the Indian Department had been paid out of the English military budget. After 1830 this expense (in Upper and Lower Canada) was to be met by a £20,000 annual grant from the English Parliament. By 1832, however, Upper Canada alone was costing £14,090 (Pacey n.d.:8). Thereafter the Canadian Government began to charge the extra expenses against the annuities already owed to the Indian people for their surrendered lands: Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Colonel James Givens, carried out a general policy of charging the costs of survey of Indian land, building and construction on reserves, and shipment of supplies, against the annual payment due the particular Band involved. Such expenses were random in nature, based on the availability of land revenue and the agreement of the particular Bands. The Chief Superintendent and the Indian Department kept no account of the actual revenues involved in such projects. The Indian funds were the direct accounting concern of the Commissary General. This official supplied the Chief Superintendent with the materials and moneys requested, based on the receipt of a letter or requisition demonstrating the purpose for which funds had been applied. Givens himself carried out several projects on behalf of the Indian Bands, on the condition that the expense would be charged, "to the sum paid annually. . . for lands surrendered to the Crown".
(Pacey n.d.:8-9) Out of this system developed a vicious circle in which the people were forced to surrender more land in order to survive as the return on their previous surrenders was used up by departmental expenses. In March of 1834 Commissary General R.G. Routh proposed that the Crown seek to persuade the Indian peoples to surrender more of their land. He considered that revenue from the sale of these lands would be beneficial to the Indians' interests. Routh reported that, "His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor recommended with the consent of the Indians, the sale of these lands, so as to invest the proceeds in some secure manner for their advantage." It was Routh's opinion that land sales revenue from the sale of the large Indian territories, if surrendered to Crown, could eventually finance the Indian Department and so, "relieve the Government from the burden and expenditures of this service".
(Pacey n.d.:11-12) For example, in 1835 one superintendent charged the following expenses against annual payments for lands ceded to the Crown: i) the several expenses for grain, seed and animal feed.
ii) the expenses of agricultural tools, supplies and wages of a resident farmer.
iii) the wages of a surgeon and teacher.
iv) the costs of construction of a sawmill and gristmill and wages of the builder and labourers.
v) the costs of bridge and dyke construction.
vi) the expenses of shipping and storage of supplies for the Indians.
(Pacey n.d.:12) Thus the more expenses that could be applied to a bands annuities the more chance there was of forcing the people of that band to surrender more land. As the bands surrendered their lands they were forced onto smaller and smaller land bases. When a band had little or no land left to pay for the department's expenses they were then subjected to the plan to speed up the process of domestication and assimilation. This later policy became legal procedure in the Act for the gradual civilization of the Indian tribes in the United Canadas (Ontario and Quebec) which was passed in 1857 (20 Victoria, Chap. 6). The Canadians demanded that every Indian make it his and her goal in life to become an enfranchised Christian citizen of Canada and to stop being an expense to the government.
In 1860 the new Management of Indian Lands and Property Act took absolute control of the economic structure of the Indian communities already under treaty.
By this time the English crown had little or no real interest in the Indian people beyond the usual imperialistic platitudes concerning the white man's burden. This attitude became legal with the enactment of the British North America act of 1867 by the English parliament by which means the English crown abandoned it's Indian allies in what is now Canada as they had previously abandoned their Indian allies in what is now the U.S.A.
Thus in 1868, following Confederation, imperial authority over the Indians and "Crown" land that had formerly been vested in the imperial government in London was transferred to the Department of the Secretary of State for the Provinces in the "Federal" Government of the Dominion of Canada.
Because of these "Acts", when the Indian leaders met with the crown representatives at the stone fort for the first treaty in the west, those politicians and bureaucrats of the Canadian negotiating party assumed that they already held legal jurisdiction over the lives of Indian people. So strong was their assumption of this fallacy that it was not even mentioned by them in the negotiations. Indian leaders on the other hand knew that they were not there to negotiate away their own right to self-government and therefore they did not raise the issue either.
Finally in 1876 the Canadian Act to consolidate the Indian Act was passed. Out of this particular act the present Canadian Federal Indian Affairs Department was incubated and spread like a virus into every aspect of Ojibwa lives.
Following the consolidation act there was a concerted effort by the department to strip away from the people anything and everything that made them Ojibwa.
In 1880 the bureaucrats set out to destroy the powers of the traditionally chosen Indian leaders by subjecting the means of choosing "leaders" to elections which were ultimately controlled by the Department. Then in order to consolidate their absolute power over the people the Canadian Government made it "illegal" for anyone, including lawyers, to advise an Indian person to agitate for his or her rights. Furthermore, in order to ensure there would be no possibility of armed resistance to this political oppression the Canadian Government passed discriminatory laws restricting the Indian peoples ability to purchase arms and ammunition.
The "legal" war against aboriginal religion was introduced in the so called "Potlatch Law" of 1884. That same year the Government took away the individual right of estate from the people, thus interfering with the sacred sanctity of an individual's last will and testament.
1884 was also the year that the so-called "Fraud" clause was introduced by which means the department could remove any Indian leader they did not approve of.
Perhaps some kind of low was reached in Canada society when the department introduced the "pass" system by which an Indian person had to obtain the permission from an agent in order to set foot off his or her reserve. By using this law and the local "vagrancy" laws the Canadian state was able to create what amounted to the worlds first legal concentration camp system.
In one of those dark ironic twists of Canadian history the Canadian government first gave Indians the right to vote then took it away again in 1885.
Always looking for the means to take more control over the affairs of a reserve the government gave their government agents the power to cast the deciding vote in any electoral tie in 1886. Thus the people of a reserve could have their futures decided by an outsider even in the election of their own leaders.
By that time, that is 1886, Indian people could not sell to or give anything to anyone outside a reserve without specific governmental approval.
In 1890 religious and cultural persecution intensified as the department began to agitate for the power to use band funds to enforce "education." By 1894 the bureaucrats had been given the power to place Indian children in the religious denominational schools without their parent's consent. The only choice parents were left with was the decision as to whether they wanted their children turned into Protestant Christians or Catholic Christians. For many parents that was no choice at all.
What the Canadians did to Indian children by forcing them into the church run education systems was probably the most horrible thing they have done to Indian people. It would maim and destroy generations of Indian children, leaving them to wither away and die from the mental and emotional agony of personal and cultural alienation. It is because of their children that the Ojibwa have struggled the hardest to regain their sovereignty for the very lives of those children depend upon the revival and revitalization of our own education system.
The Canadian government also made our religious observances of both the Medewiwin and the thirsting dance illegal and the persecution of our religious leaders escalated. Furthermore the power of legal prosecution under the Indian Act was placed in the hands of the local Indian agents. A single non-Indian was given dictatorial powers over the entire population of the reserves in his jurisdiction.
In 1898 the bureaucrats took upon themselves the power to sell the hay and timber from a reserve without consulting the band members. They also assumed the "legal" right to spend band funds on public works, schools, and surveys, In this manner they re-introduced the older Ontario system of "cost" cutting by using Indian funds to pay for their policies.
They also introduced a subversive system by which they "rewarded" particular individuals on a reserve from band funds with neither regard to traditional practice or the consent of the band as a whole. This practice was an attempt to implement a system on the reserves that was parallel to the bribery and corruption of their own government's patronage system. By the use of this system of bribery and favouritism the Department of Indian Affairs set out to weaken and ultimately destroy the social fabric of communal unity. The blood spilled because of the friction and factionalism induced by this nefarious practice can still be found on the hands of the Canadian Government.
By the end of the nineteenth century the population of many of the bands was at an all time low. It was then that the Canadians choose to reduce the remaining land bases of the western reserves in a repetition of what they had done to Indian lands in the east.
In the opening years of the twentieth century the various means of oppressing Indian people for the "public good" continued to expand. In 1911 the government made it legal for municipalities and corporations to expropriate reserve land for the "public" good. Then in 1914 Indian people could be forced to submit to medical attention when required to by a bureaucrat. In 1917 there began to be massive violations of treaty rights by the arbitrary enforcement of contrary game laws. In 1918 reserve lands could be leased without a band's permission and the next year soldier "allotments" were made without band permission. In 1920 the government began to apply annuity funds to education. Finally the Arthur Meighen Conservative Government set out to introduce termination through a system of forced enfranchisement. Only the loss of this government in an election put a stop to this plan to enforce termination.
By 1924 it had become illegal for an Indian person to use the services of legal council without the consent of the department.
Then in 1927 the Canadian government enacted a awe inspiring piece of legal juris prudence called the "Pool-room Law." This law made it illegal for an Indian to frequent a pool hall. In our day and age the thought of such a law might seem antiquated and indeed humorous, something worthy of a TV program like "People do the darnedest things" . But it was not wayward youth that this law was aimed at but adult men. Men who had fought in a war as volunteers for the very country that was enacting that law against them. Suddenly that law no longer seems quite so funny.
The year 1930 was a year of major change in the political patronage system in the west. In that year the Federal Government transferred the control of Crown lands and natural resources over to the Provinces including Manitoba. This transfer has forced the Ojibwa people to deal with two different groups of politicians and bureaucrats at the same time. Shortly thereafter, in 1936, the Department of Indian Affairs usurped the authority of the treaties by assuming the power to enact and enforce "Provincial" game laws when the department saw fit to do so.
It was about this same time, with a growing emphasis on the exploitation of vast reserves of natural resources in Canada, that the Department of Indian Affairs was taken over by the Ministry of Mines and Natural Resources. This was done to ensure that no Indian rights would be allowed to interfere with any corporate policy for development.
Under all these circumstances and others I was forced to consider what sort of society would deliberately set about creating such a oppression system of laws and policies? Part of the answer I had already discovered in the historical and cultural roots of the people who invaded the Ojibwa homelands.
To further my understanding, I considered the Euro-Mediterranean element of the Invaders' culture as it became rooted in North America. The circle is a sacred and powerful symbol for good among the aboriginal people. Nevertheless the term "circle" or ring can also be used to describe the groups of individuals or corporate bodies that interact within the Invaders' economic society. But perhaps a more appropriate word for these groups of insiders would be the word clique. Even today, in the so-called democratic societies of Canada and America there are always insiders who have the exclusive right to live and work within the power structure of the clique and the outsiders who are denied any right to use the power or influence of the group. Only those who are within the sphere of influence or power of the clique are allowed, in varying amounts, according to their status within the group, to use and enjoy the resources controlled by the group.
There is also a rigid structure by which these resources are distributed within these cliques. This structure of distribution is called patronage. Theoretically the ultimate source of all patronage in Euro-Mediterranean culture was, and in most respects still is, assumed to be the Asiatic Demon called Yahweh.
This manitou is considered by his followers to be a jealous manitou who demands that they make a special deal or covenant with him: Those who bow down to him must not only believe that he is the greatest of all manitous but also that it is he who is the one and only Master of Life. Having come to this agreement or covenant with Yahweh his followers assume that because they are within the clique of the chosen ones they and only they have the "legal" right to enjoy the spoils of his patronage or "grace" as they call it.
Considering what I already ;earned in my studies of the culture I can see that the keystone of any patronage clique is its ability to control wealth. And the best wealth to control was and still is real estate; which is the land itself and its resources.
In the first days of the alien invasion of the Indian homelands the exercise by which the acquisition of wealth began was the staking of a claim to the land for a Christian European monarch in the name of the manitou Yahweh. This was done by the agents of that monarch the so called explorers. Once this had been done the whole corrupt patronage system began to function.
Initially, the monarch sat alone in the centre of the patronage ring which had been created out of aboriginal homelands. But not for long. Next, for a price the monarch or the monarch's agents would arrange to have a charter that purported to granted exclusive "title" to a specific amount of the homelands given to some loyal subject. It was this charter that allowed the recipient to become a member within the great ring of patronage.
Once inside the clique the property so granted was exploited by the individual in order to accumulate sufficient capital with which to "bribe" more "property" out of the patronage system.
This was done by accepting bribes, payments or rents from third level individuals. Thus the receivers of the charter from the monarch was able to create a secondary ring of patronage with themselves in the centre And so it was until the last penny was squeezed out of the circle. I found an excellent example of this economic system functioning among the French invaders in North America. There the French monarch granted a series of merchant companies charters that gave them the monopoly to exploit certain Indian land and its resources. These companies then used alcohol, in the form of Brandy, as their drug of choice to enhance their ability to exploit the Indian people of those lands in order to generate profits. Furthermore the companies also used those lands to create their own patronage rings in New France or Quebec as it was called.
The priests and nuns of the Roman Catholic Church participated in this patronage system in Quebec in order to acquire huge tracts of the Indian homelands. By 1763 those acquisitions by the church had already reached 2,096,754 acres (Myers 1914:17). These lands were distributed as follows: Quebec Ursulines: 164,615 acres
St. Sulpicians: 250,191 acres
Three River Ursulines: 38,909 acres
Recollets: 945 acres
The Bishop of Quebec: 693,324 acres
Jesuits: 891,845 acres
Hospital of Quebec: 73 acres
Hospital of Montreal: 404 acres
Hotel Dieu Quebec: 14,112 acres
Soeurs Grises: 42,336 acres
(Myers 1914:17) This land and more was still being used by the Catholic Churchmen to accumulate capital when Myers wrote the following in 1914: Roman Catholic clergy or orders were able by their ability in commanding money in rents, tithes, or by borrowing from their communicants at absurdly low rates of interest, to invest largely, as we shall see, in railroad and steamship lines and industrial stocks and bonds. The Seminary of St. Sulpice, the landed estate of which in Montreal is of enormous present value, reaching tens of millions of dollars, is now one of the largest holders of stocks and bonds in Canada. (Myers 1914:17)