Request for Treaty from the First Nations
As more and more explorers, surveyors, prospectors, and lumber men entered into their territory, the Nishnawbe Aski sent word through Indian Agents and other non natives that they expected to be taken into Treaty. In 1901 the Inspector of Indian Agencies, Mr. Macrae, informed the Department of Indian Affairs that the aboriginal people who hunted between James Bay and the Great Lakes wanted to know when the Government would enter into a Treaty with them. When visiting Brunswick House at the headwaters of the Moose River, Inspector Macrae and the Department Accountant, D.C. Scott, met with “many others whose rights of occupancy to the territory north of the tract covered by the Robinson Treaties, have not been and have not since the date mentioned, been extinguished.” Macrae continued:
These Indians came from considerable distances and asked what the Government proposed to do about the rights of Indians residing between James Bay and the Great Lakes who had not been treated with … in 1850, saying that they heard that railroads were projected through their country, and that already miners, prospectors, and surveyors were beginning to pass through it [in] such largely increased numbers that the game was disturbed, interference with their means of livelihood had commenced, and their rights were being trespassed upon.
The Department of Indian Affairs had also received a petition from the people of Mishkeegogamang (formerly referred to as the Osnaburgh Band) asking for Treaty:
Samuel Stewart of the Department of Indian Affairs reported that Chief Louis Espagnol of Biscotasing said that the Indians residing north of the Robinson Treaties had been promised a Treaty years ago and were anxious for the Treaty.
Indian Affairs Responses to Request for Treaty
The Department of Indian Affairs was reluctant to enter into a new Treaty that would cover lands in Ontario and Quebec, believing that any new Treaty would require that the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec be parties. Secretary McLean of Indian Affairs informed Chief Espagnol of the government’s reasoning in a letter dated November 11, 1901.
The Department of Indian Affairs advised the people of Mishkeegogamang, by way of the Jabez Williams of the Hudson’s Bay Company, that the matter of making a Treaty was under consideration.
Author: Janet Armstrong, PhD