First “numbered treaty” is signed

April 29, 2017

Peace treaty talks in Manitoba

Peace treaty talks in Manitoba, 1871. Early Canadiana Online, 8_06274_89


Signed in 1871, Treaty 1 was negotiated between the new Government of Canada and the Anishinabe (Saulteaux) and Nehiyaw (Cree) of Manitoba. It was the first of 11 “numbered treaties” that would provide a legal understanding of the post-Confederation relationship between First Peoples and the Dominion of Canada. Both parties were generally eager to negotiate treaties so as to avoid the bloodshed occurring in American “Indian Wars” south of the border. From the Canadian government’s perspective, the numbered treaties allowed settlers access to land, while setting aside “reserves” for First Peoples and providing them with cash payments and supplies. However, Aboriginal people understood treaties differently, more as agreements of peace, friendship and mutual support rather than land surrenders. Notwithstanding differences in interpretation, the Canadian government often failed to live up to its treaty obligations, and even withheld provisions and supplies as a means of coercion.

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