Saturday, February 16, 2013

Treaties and Stuff - Part 2

Included also in the clauses about reserved land is the following:

"..the aforesaid reserves of land, or any interest therein, may be sold or otherwise disposed of by Her Majesty's Government for the use and benefit of the said Indians entitled thereto, with their consent first had and obtained"

(There were a number of such land "surrenders" duly arranged in the decades that followed, which became the subject of land claims in the 1970s and '80s with the assertion that they had be defrauded of their land, however, it would appear that, contrary to the Indian version of events, all was on the up and up at the time of the surrender.)

In the same paragraph, Indians are promised cash payouts "with a view to show the satisfaction of Her Majesty with the behavior and good conduct of Her Indians", as follows:

"...twelve dollars for each man, woman and child belonging to the bands here represented, in extinguishment of all claims heretofore preferred."

Following that is a promise of schools. (Interesting anecdote: Publicly funded education was a new, and as yet, not universally accepted  concept in the 1870s. Prior to that, most schooling for poor children was delivered by the churches.  So it makes perfect sense that the schools opened on reserves, and later, the residential schools, were administered by the churches.)

The exact wording of the education clause in Treaty 6, is: "And further, Her Majesty's Government of the Dominion of Canada agrees to maintain schools for instruction in such reserves [Emphasis mine} hereby made as to her Government of the Dominion of Canada may seem advisable, whenever the Indians of such reserve shall desire it.

(I placed the words "in such reserves" in bold, in order to emphasize the mindset of the Victorian era. In other words, paying for post-secondary education was not anticipated, as Indian organizations would have us believe today.   Indeed, post-secondary education, or even secondary education, at that time, was a luxury only the well-to-do could afford. As mentioned above, at the time Treaty 6 was negotiated, only recently had public funding for lower-class children become acceptable,  It is highly unlikely that the Treaty Commissioner, or the Queen herself, had that in mind.  What was most likely, given the life-ways of Europeans and the colonials of the time, and given what was anticipated as the future for Indians, was an agrarian mode of life, or careers in trades that supported an agrarian lifestyle, such as blacksmithing.  In fact, and in hand with the residential schools appearing during that era, where "industrial schools", where Indian youth were taught precisely those sorts of skills.)

Finally, to round out Part 2, is the next clause pertained to the general prohibition against alcohol:

"...within the boundary of Indian reserves, until otherwise determined by Her Government of the Dominion of Canada, no intoxicating liquor shall be allowed to be introduced or sold, and all laws now in force, or hereinafter enacted, to preserve Her Indian subjects inhabiting or living elsewhere within Her North-west Territories from the evil influence of the use of intoxicating liquors, shall be strictly enforced."

(This prohibition was an integral part of the Indian Act until the late 1950s (or early 1960s). And still, today, there are "wet' reserves, and "dry" reserves, the status being determined by Band Council resolution.)  

Part 3 -

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