“Setting out the Long Plain First Nation history is not an easy task.There is one history which is carried in the mind and hearts of the people. There is another history, a very incomplete one, which can be pieced together from historical documents.”
A HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE WHO BECAME THE LONG PLAIN FIRST NATION
Strictly speaking, prior to 1876, the First Nation today known as “Long Plain” was not located at “the Long Plain”. The people who did locate themselves at Long Plain after 1876 were not before that time an independent First Nation community. The style of living prior to Treaty did not require fixed communities, nor were their fixed “memberships” for the various communities.
Strictly speaking, it can be said that the people who today are the Long Plain First Nation came into being in 1876 when their ancestors located themselves at the Long Plain. But it also must be said that those people were part of a rich history of the Ojibway Nation in Manitoba. This historical account is an effort to tell both stories, before and after 1876.
The first person we can find in written history that we can trace to today’s Long Plain First Nation is a man named Mechkadewikonaie, sometimes translated as “Black Robe”, sometimes as “Black Cat”. His name was sometimes written “Maccathy Counoyé” in traders’ records.
Mechkadewikonaie is prominent in the 1817 document (see below) setting out an agreement made between various Indigenous leaders of both “Chippeway” (Anishinabe or Ojibway) and Cree Nations and one Lord Selkirk, a prominent figure of the Hudson’s Bay Company. The agreement today is mistakenly known as “the Selkirk Treaty”. But it cannot be a Treaty because Selkirk entered into it in his own name, not in the name of the Crown. He had no authority from the Crown to act as he did. The document itself does not say it is a “Treaty”. Selkirk called it an “indenture”, something like a lease. It is also interesting to note that Black Robe’s people were to receive the 100 pounds of tobacco annually as their payment for the indenture at the Forks, while the Cree Chief Sonnant or Senna received his tobacco at Portage la Prairie.
The land involved in the indenture consisted of a tract along the Red River and the Assiniboine River two miles wide on each side of the river. It was strictly for the purpose of agricultural settlement. Permission was granted to cut hay for a further two miles on each side, but no buildings could be constructed on the haylands.