The First Nation and reserve was created in 1876 after the signing of the adhesion to Treaty No. 1 of 1871. 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. We refer our people as a tribe, a group of distinct people existing before development, with a leaders and advisors, Strictly speaking, prior to 1876, the First Nation today known as “Long Plain” was not located at “the Long Plain”.
On August 3rd, 1871, Canada’s representatives Adams G. Archibald, Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and Northwest Territories, James McKay P.L.C. and Wemyss M. Simpson, Indian Commissioner and the Ojibway nation occupying the southern portion of what is called the Province of Manitoba signed a peace and good will treaty known as Treaty No. 1 at Stone Fort, otherwise called Lower Fort Garry.
Stone Fort also called Lower Fort Garry At the time of the Treaty making era, Chief Yellowquill represented the Ojibway First Nation in the Portage la Prairie, people that were paid at Treaty or on the paylist sometimes were referred to as “the Portage Band”. Chief Yellowquill was recognized by the Crown Representatives as the leader of the Ojibway First Nations Chiefs and signatory to the Treaty No. 1. There was three branches of the Portage First Nations which were formed by Yellowquill’s, White Mud River and Keeskeemaquah’s Bands.
And so it was that Treaty was to be negotiated at the Stone Fort, the Lower Fort Garry. The day set to open negotiations was July 26, but as that day arrived, few First Nations were present, and they said they were not ready to begin without the others. Later that day, many more First Nations arrived. Over a thousand Indians were present, including Yellow Quill, who said he had a thousand members, of whom 326 – nearly a third of the total – were actually present.
Among the groups not present was Chief Nanawatchekapow’s people from White Mud River (later to become Sandy Bay). The Band had been located in the area for fifty years or more, and included some persons related tothe St. Francois Xavier and Baie St. Paul communities. They lived in anestablished farming community situated on the southwest shore of LakeManitoba. Later, they would be included in the paylists of “the people paidat Portage”, sometimes referred to as “the Portage Band”.
When the dust had settled after the Treaty discussions, Yellowquill and his people believed that it had been agreed they would be getting a reserve with a boundary which had Eagle’s Nest (N.W. 1/4 Section 24 TWP 9R 10 WPM) as the starting point, extending from there fifteen miles to the West and fifteen miles to the East, five miles to the North, and 25 miles to the south, comprising a total of 460,000 acres or 4.3% of the total area covered by Treaty 1. But only hours passed before it was evident that there were disputes about what had been negotiated and what appeared in the Treaty document.
There were disagreements not only between First Nations and the Crown’s representatives, but also among the representatives. The written Treaty provided, among other things, that there would be set aside “for the use of the Indians of whom Oo-za-we-kwun [Yellow Quill] is Chief so much land on the south and east side of the Assiniboine River, about twenty miles above [meaning upstream from] the Portage, as will furnish 160 acres for each family of five or in that proportion for larger or smaller families, reserving also a further tract enclosing said reserve to compromise an equivalent to 25 square miles of equal breadth, to be laid out around the reserve.” What Yellowquill and his people believed was that they had received a 25 mile square belt, with the farming reserve added to an inside the belt. A 25 mile square is 625 square miles. 25 square miles is just that – 25 square miles.
On September 7, 1871, the second payment of Treaty was made by Commissioner Simpson and Molyneaux St. John “to the Portage Band, Yellow Quill chief,” at Portage la Prairie. There were 105 heads of family paid, 28 by leaving the money with the Hudson’s Bay Company. There were 447 persons. Among them were Nº 78, Nahweechewaykahpow, Chief of the White Mud River Band, although there is nothing to distinguish him and his people from Yellow Quill’s people.
In the summer of 1872, the “Portage Band” refused to accept their annuity payment because of their dissatisfaction with the administration of the terms of the Treaty as they understood it. In September, however, the payments were accepted by “Portage la Prairie Band, Oozawequan, Chief”, at Portage la Prairie.
In the summer of 1873, the government of Sir John A. Macdonald was forced out of office because of a scandal connected to the building of the Transcontinental Railway. That same August, surveyor William Wagner received instructions dated 13 August 1873 to make a “plan of Indian Reserve on South and East Side of Assiniboine River of which Ooza-wekwun [Yellow Quill] is Chief.
The reserve surveyed pleased nobody. First, it was too close to Portage la Prairie and Ottawa “wanted the Indians out of town.” Second, the reserve did not include Eagle’s Nest as Yellowquill’s people had insisted. Third, the reserve was much smaller than that which Yellowquill’s people believed they had agreed to. Fourth, the Surveyor General of Canada said the reserve wasn’t where it was supposed to be. In his survey report, Wagner said he had not seen it to be necessary to consult with Yellowquill nor any of his people. He defended his choice, saying the reserve “was well adapted for an Indian.”
It was in October of 1873 that there was the first documentary indication that in addition to the separation of the White Mud River group from Yellowquill’s paylist, In a report to Indian Commissioner Provencher, it was said:
“Another party in the Band desire to secede, taking for their Chief the grandson of him who was in times past the Chief of the whole Band. I have not as yet thought it wise to give them any encouragement in the belief that their wish will be granted.”
In 1874, Chief Yellowquill had a four-hour meeting with the Lieutentant Governor. A variety of grievances was discussed, including the location of the reserve. Consequently, another surveyor, Roger Goulet, was sent toPortage la Prairie. Yellowquill took him in his buggy to the place where the 25 mile x 25 mile reserve was supposed to be at Eagle’s Nest. Goulet sent the information to Ottawa, commenting that the soil at Eagle’s Nest was not as good as on the Wagner reserve, but “I think it is a large hunting ground that they want to have.” Nothing really happened to resolve the issue.
Then on 22 July 1875, Lieutenant Governor Morris and James MacKay went to Portage to “settle the long-pending dispute” about the reserve for the First Nation of which Yellow Quill was chief. They proceeded to the Round Plain on the River Assiniboine where they met with 500 Indians on July 26. Morris wrote several accounts of the meeting, with some contradictions:
“This Band, as you are aware, has always been dissatisfied and have been difficult to deal with. I found them in an intractable frame of mind, and the difficulty of the position was enhanced by a division among themselves.”
The original chief of the Portage Band was Peequakpeekan, who was a party to the Treaty with Lord Selkirk. Unfortunately, that information is incorrect. The party to the Treaty was Black Robe. Peequakpeekan was the son of Black Robe. Morris proceeds with his account.
“. . . Yellow Quill was appointed chief by the Hudson’s Bay Company … The grandson is now grown up and has returned from the Plains where he has been and claims to be recognized as an hereditary chief, and about half of the Band have followed his lead. After we had been in conference some time, an Indian rose, and told us that when the chief of the Portage died, he charged him to keep the land for his son, and that they wished a Reserve at the Portage.
“Another rose, and produced Peequahkeekauskun’s King George Medal, and said the chief had placed it on his keeping, and charged him to deliver it to his son when he was old enough to be a chief, and then placed it round the neck of Kekeemahquah, or the Short Bear. They then asked that I receive him as a chief in place of Yellow Quill.
“I told them that could not be done, that Yellow Quill must remain a chief, but that I would report their request on behalf of the Young Chief to the Government at Ottawa, and let them know their decision, but that they could get no Reserve at the Portage as only that mentioned in the Treaty would be given and with this they were satisfied.
“The conference then went on, the two parties sitting apart and holding no intercourse with each other. [Morris’ “Treaties” account adds: “Yellow Quill wanted the reserve assigned in one locality, while the adherents of the Bear said thatlocation was not suitable for farming. They wished the reserve to be placed at Round Plain, where they had already commenced a settlement.
“Keeskeemahquah may have come back from the Plains, but the Treaty pay lists show he was also present as a member of Yellow Quill’s band at Treaty signing in 1871. Note that there was no desire expressed to separate into two bands, but rather an internal disagreement as to the location of the proposed reserve. Inherent in the disagreement on location is the fact that “the farming reserve” was much smaller than the “hunting reserve”.
“I spent two days with them, making no progress as they claimed that a Reserve thirty miles by twenty was promised them as shewn in the rough sketch enclosed made at their dictation and marked ‘A’. I produced the plan of the Reserve as proposed to be allotted them, containing 34,000 acres [presumably the Wagner Reserve], but Yellow Quill said it was not in the right place, and was not what was promised, and moreover it was not surrounded by the belt of five miles mentioned in the treaty, but was only partially so, and did not cross the river. I told them they could get no more land than was promised in the Treaty.
“They appealed to Mr. McKay whether the Reserve was not promised to be on both sides of the river, and he admitted that it was [emphasis added]. I told them it was not so written in the Treaty and that if the Government should allow it to cross the River, the rights of navigation must be conserved, but I would consult the Queen’s Councillors. They replied they would go to the Grand Father and get him to intercede for them, meaning the President of the United States, as I afterwards discovered, an American Indian having persuaded them to take this course.
“They refused to discuss or accept anything until the Reserve question was settled, and while I was speaking on the afternoon of the second day, Yellow Quill’s Councillors went away, left him alone while he followed. I then left the Council tent, leaving word that I would depart in the morning.
“. . . I may mention here that Yellow Quill reproached his councilors for their conduct. He also informed Mr. McKay privately that he could not act otherwise as he was in danger of his life from some of his own braves. He was guarded all the time by a man armed with a bow and steel-pointed arrow.
[Treaties says, “The Chief Yellow Quill was apprehensive of his own followers and besides, the danger of collision between the two sections was imminent.”] “I promised to state their claims as to the Reserve, but told them it would not be granted, but that I would change the location of the reserve, as it had been selected without their approval, and would represent their view as to its locality and as to crossing the River, the navigation of which, however, could not be interfered with.
“. . . Eventually, they cheerfully agreed to accept the $3 annuity as usual and to defer a final adjustment on the question between us until next year, and promised to accompany anyone I sent to select the Reserve and agree on its locality.
His apprehensiveness was not about those who shared his ideas about the placement of the reserve, but rather about the followers of Short Bear, who at that time, strictly speaking, remained followers of Yellow Quill. No mention was made about the surrender of the Wagner Reserve, which, having been set apart for the use and benefit of Indians outside of the operation of the DominionLand Act, was indeed a reserve within the meaning of the Indian Act.
[Treaties gives a much different tenor: “The Commissioners finally intimated to the band that they would do nothing with them that year, but would make the customary payment of the annuities under the original Treaty and leave them ’till next year to make up their minds as to accepting the new terms, to which the Indians agreed.”]
“They again thanked me for my kindness and patience with them and I took leave of them. I regard the result as very satisfactory, as I left the band contented and you are aware of their intimate relation with the Plain Indians and the difficulty their messenger to Qu’Appelle [referring to The Gambler’s attendance at the negotiations for Treaty Nº4] that the white man had not kept his promises, caused us there, and it is very important that they should be satisfied. [The Gambler was a prominent member of the portion which followed Yellowquill.]
“. . . I would now make the following recommendations: 1st: that you should write Yellow Quill declining to entertain his demand for the large Reserve, but offering to them a Reserve including the Eagle’s Nest, on the side of the River, and laid off in the terms of the Treaty, with the land comprised in the 160 acres for eachfamily [emphasis added] surrounded by the belt mentioned in the Treaty, in the manner suggested in the enclosed rough sketch “B”, reserving the right of navigation and access to the River. The land is of inferior quality to that already offered them.
“2nd. I would propose that the Young Chief should be recognized as head of the section of the Band adhesing to him. He and his section are ready to accept the terms of the Reserve as described in the Treaty. They behaved very well, and told Mr. McKay that they were glad I had not recognized them, as it would have led to bloodshed,and that they would be content if the recognition came when the Reserve was settled. The Young Chief is an intelligent well-disposed man, aged about 26.
“3rd. I would propose that the White Mud Indians who live there constantly should be recognized as a distinct band and should elect a chief.
Short Bear’s faction had made it clear they wanted land near to Portage, and Morris is recommending Yellow Quill get a Reserve at Eagle’s Nest.
“4th. I would recommend that arrears due to Indians who have not yet received their annuities should be paid in full at once, but that a period of two years should be fixed for those bona fide members of the band to come in and be paid and that after that they should only receive one year’s payment.”If these steps are taken, I think we shall have no more trouble with these Indians.
“5th. I think that the claim of the Indians as to the three-year’s lease is one that ought to receive consideration under the circumstances. The White Mud section have no interest in it and the case was avery important one.
“In conclusion, I have to express my obligations to the Honorable Mr. McKay for the valuable services he rendered me. The Indians told me that they would not have come into the Stone Fort Treaty but for him, and I know that it was the case.”
When he filed his report, Morris wrote that because of the disagreement over the location and size of the reserve, “. . . the Portage Band has refused this year to accept the increase of the annuity tendered to them. Through their Chief, they positively refuse to make the least change to the Treaty before the settlement of this question of Reserve. As it is not probable that any applicationshall be made before several years for the lands which have beenappropriated for that purpose, it has not been thought necessary to hasten their decision.”
“The majority of the Portage Indians live by hunting and fishing, the produce of which is sufficient to afford them a comfortable living. The settlements have not driven away the game for which that part of the country has always been noted. . .
“Some few other families already own eight houses to the southeast of the Portage, and bid fair to give themselves entirely up to agricultural pursuits. They also ask to be separated from the partyhaving Ozooquan the present chief. Though their reasons are not so disinterested as those of the White Mud River party, and that there is a light show of personal ambition on the part of those who would like to become the Chiefs of the new Band, their demands claim some attention since the Chief has shown himself so averse to accept for his Tribe the advantages offered by the Government.”
Yellow Quill’s acceptance of a temporary “lease” prior to Treaty allowed the Ontario farmers to gain a foothold in the Portage area, building up strength which would allow them to predominate in the founding of the new province at the expense of the Metis and Catholic interests.
On October 4, 1875, Interior Minister Laird wrote Lt. Governor Morris he was “very much gratified to learn that you are willing to give the Government the benefit of your valuable service for the purpose of renewing negotiations with that [Portage] band this year.”
“The subject of Yellow Quill’s demand for a large reserve is . . . under consideration of the Surveyor General now at Manitoba, and the decision on the subject must, I think, be postponed until a report from that office has been received.” The Minister states the decision on the Short Bear and White Mud separation and reserves is to be deferred for a year. Annuity payments were to be made only to Indians “who took up permanent residence.”
In October, 1875, Morris and Provencher, accompanied by James McKay, set out to visit various communities and their Chiefs to obtain acceptance of the proposed revision of the Stone Fort Treaty. They first went to St. Peter’s, and then splitting into two parties, to the other First Nation signatories to Treaty Nº1 and Treaty Nº2. The revised Treaty was signed by the chiefs with whom meetings were held. By plan, Morris and Provencher did not go to the First Nation of which Yellow Quill was chief, “who were not summoned to any of the conferences, a fruitful source of dissension and difficulty. . . This band had always been troublesome.”
In the 1875 Annual Report on Indian Affairs, Indian Commissioner J.A.N. Provencher commented on the Short Bear/Yellow Quill division:
“Some attempts have been made during the year to obtain the division of certain Bands, the members of which, for several reasons, said they could no longer remain under the same chief . . . at the Portage, it isthe diversity of interests and customs that seem to call for a separation. Those who feel inclined to devote themselves to agriculture are thwarted in their designs by the other party who wish to resume the old way of living by hunting and fishing.
“They first need some encouragement in the shape of agricultural implements, seed grain and money to assist them during the period of their farm labours. The others, on the contrary, can give up everyadvantage to obtain a Reserve of such an extent as to enable them tocontinue their usual mode of life. When the population shall have increased to a sufficiently large figure and circumstances will allow of it, I do not think it would be inopportune to allow the interested parties the privilege to form a separate Band if it is self-evident that it is to their advantage and that they cannot continue to form part of the same band without prejudice to their own interests.”
“. . . Some few other families already own eight houses to the southeast of Portage, and bid fair to give themselves entirely up to agriculturalpursuits. They also ask to be separated from the party havingOzooquan the present Chief.
“Though their reasons are not so disinterested as those of the White Mud River party, and that there is a slight show of personal ambition on the part of those who would like to become the Chiefs of the new Band, their demands claim some attention since the Chief has shown himself so averse to accept for his Tribe the advantages offered by the Government.”
In his own Annual Report for 1875, the Minister of the Interior referred to the dispute over the Yellow Quill Reserve.
“In the solitary case where a band declined the proposal [by the Government with respect to the Outside Promises] the refusal arose not from any dissatisfaction at the terms, but in consequence of a dispute in reference to the Reserve to which the band thought themselves entitled. This difficulty will, it is hoped, be satisfactorily adjusted next season, when the band will, no doubt, give in their adhesion to the new arrangement.
Lt. Gov. Morris was in Ottawa in the spring of 1876. While he was there, on April 21, 1876, Interior Minister Laird wrote him a letter. He had accepted all of Morris’ recommendations of August 2, 1875, with the exception of the question of separate band status for the White Mud River people. That question would be left to Morris’ discretion. The letter sets out the Ottawa view, based on its file documents:
“Referring to your previous correspondence . . . I am very much gratified to learn that you are willing to give the Government the benefit of your valuable services for the purpose of renewing negotiations with that Band this year . . .
“It appears from documents in possession of the Department a large portion, one half of the band, object to Yellow Quill as their chief, and desire to have the young chief “Short Bear” formally recognized as their chief, and further that Yellow Quill’s portion of the band object to the reserve proposed to be assigned to them under the Treaty and ask to have their reserve elsewhere.
“Having carefully read all the papers and considering your suggestions on the subject, I have to request you 1st. to inform Yellow Quill and theportion of the band that wish to acknowledge him as chief  that theywill be allowed to select a new reserve for themselves in the North, or ifnecessary, on both sides of the River, to include as they desire Eagle’sNest, and such extent of land as under the terms of the Treaty they willbe entitled to surrounded by the belt mentioned in the Treaty, upon the understanding, however, that the navigation of the River must not be in any way interfered with;
2nd “that I will recommend His Excellency in Council to recognize the Young Chief Short Bear as their Chief of that portion of the Band who object to Yellow Quill and who signify their desire to have Short Bear as their chief. This portion of the Band will be assigned a Reserve of an extent proportioned to their number in such places as may be agreed upon.
“Note that Wagner’s reserve on the north side of the river has already been surveyed and marked for Short Bear. Note that Short Bear is to be assigned a reserve proportion to the number of persons who would adhere to his Band. Yellow Quill, however, will receive the extent of land as under the terms of the Treaty they will be entitled to, surrounded by the belt mentioned in the Treaty. In other words, Yellow Quill gets the full Treaty reserve including the belt, while Short Bear gets a reserve consisting of 160 acres per family. In fact, however, something different actually happened.”
3rd “As regards the Indians on the White Mud River, I should not wish, disposed with the information at present before me, to recommend that they should be recognized as a distinct band with a reserve and chief of their own. The number of Indians seems hardly to warrant their claiming a separate reserve and chief, and there is certainly no land in the neighborhood where they are now living which would be available as a reserve for them. It seems very desirable that the White Mud River Indians should attach themselves either to Yellow Quill or Short Bear, and share in the Reserve assigned to such portion of the Band.
“Any of these Indians, however, who are now settled in the neighborhood of White Mud River and desire to remain there will not be disturbed in their holdings unless indeed the land so held has already been granted to other parties by the Land Branch of this Department in ignorance of the fact of its being occupied by Indians. In no case, however, are Indians to consider themselves at liberty to settle on any fresh lands in that neighborhood. I must, however, in the matter of the White Mud River Indians, trust largely to your discretion having no doubt that you will make with them the most advantageous arrangements which the case admits.
“5th. You will be careful to make the Indians understand that the arrangements made with you, more especially as regards the proposed alteration in the original reserve, must be subject to the approval of His Excellency the Governor in Council.
“6th. You will probably think it advisable to take a surveyor with you to lay out at once the new reserves. The Surveyor General will, therefore, be instructed to place at your disposal for this purpose the services of Mr. Hart, the Inspector of Surveys in Manitoba…”
On June 19, 1876, Lieutenant Governor Morris, set off from Portage for Long Plains to meet “. . . the Portage Band, to arrange the dispute with regard to the Reserve and to settle the Outside Promises.”
He was accompanied by James Graham of the Indian Commissioner’s office, who was to act as paymaster, and J. Lestock Reid, P.L.S., who was to survey the reserve. The trip from Fort Garry had begun on June 14, and had not been a pleasant one – rains had worsened roads so that four days travel had been required with “mosquitoes in incredible numbers”.
Upon his arrival, Morris found 500 Ojibway assembled in three separate encampments. The negotiations lasted June 19 and 20. Morris reviewed the terms of the Stone Fort Treaty, and explained theywere getting double the land any other Indians in Treaties No. 1 and 2 weregetting.He said “the reserve belonged to all of them, and not to Yellow Quill’s band alone.”
When Yellow Quill said he did not understand the extent of the Reserve, Surveyor Reid was asked to show a diagram and explain its length in ordinary miles. Short Bear said they wanted a Reserve at the Long Plain even “if it was only a little piece of land, that they liked the place, that they had cut oak to build more houses, and where they had built houses, planted gardens, and wished to farm there.”
The White Mud River people said they were Christians and had always lived at White Mud River, and that they did not want to join with Yellow Quill or Short Bear, but wanted their own reserve at Big Point.
In his book, Treaties of Canada with the Indians, p.30, Morris says the site selected was Round Plain. Morris told them they “could not have it there as there were settlers and that the Government wished them to join one of the other bands, and explained to them that their holdings would be respected except were inadvertedly sold. I took this course as I had ascertained that the plan of Yellow Quill’s headmen was to make no settlement this year and that they had induced the other Indians to agree to act in that way.
“I accordingly so shaped my opening speech and my dealings with the Indians as to defeat this project by securing the support of Short Bear’s and the White Mud Indians which I succeeded in doing, though Yellow Quill’s spokesman taunted the others with having broken their agreement.”
According to Morris, Yellow Quill did not wish to have the band broken up as Short Bear wished “as they all wished to live together.” Morris told Yellow Quill “he would have his Reserve on both sides of the river, reserving the navigation, and that if they could agree to go to one reserve, I would be pleased, but if not, that I would settle the matter.”
Yellow Quill responded “that his councillors were willing that the other Indians should have a separate reserve, provided they retained the belt of25 miles in addition to their proportion of the Reserve (emphasis added). I informed them this could not be done; the reserve belonged to all.”
After a break in the proceedings, Yellow Quill renewed his stance that the band should have a single reserve, and that he was willing to compromise on the location, since the site selected by Short Bear was better suited for agriculture.
The following day, June 20, Yellow Quill announced “that his band were now willing to separate from the others, and wished to select a reserve higher up the river.” Morris agreed that Short Bear could have his own reserve. He also agreed the White Mud River people could have a reserve “giving them their proportion of the original Reserve.”
“The White Mud River Indians asked for a separate reserve where they could farm, and I informed them that under the discretionary powers I possessed I would have a reserve selected for them, giving them their proportion of the original reserve.”
As for Yellow Quill, Morris wrote, “I informed them that I would accede to their request, but that they must do it at once and on the approval thereof by the Privy Council it would be laid off.”
Morris presented a draft agreement which he had written up “in anticipation of a settlement”. Noting that at Treaty-signing “there was some misunderstanding as to the terms of the said treaty and in order to do away with same,” the Governor in Council had passed an Order “for the purpose of adjusting all difficulties.”
Morris was referring to the 20 April 1875 Order in Council “which minute has been accepted by all the Bands of Indians” except for Yellow Quill’s. Now, Morris said, Yellow Quill was also willing to accept the Order “as a satisfactory settlement and agree to continue bound by the said Treaty as supplemented by the said Order in Council.” ( The Order in Council referred to dealt only with the Outside Promises, and did not deal with reserves or a division of the band.) The document specified that “owing to the size of the said original Band, and the divisions existing among the Indians composing it, the said Band is divided into two Bands.”
It is interesting that the Yellow Quill band was divided into two, not three bands, and that later in the document the White Mud River band is recognized as a “distinct band.” To summarize this in other words, Short Bear’s band and Yellow Quill’s band were subdivisions of the original Treaty Band, but that the White Mud River band was recognized as a distinct band. If that is the case, it is arguable as to whether the Mud River band accepted Treaty in 1871, or when members received first annuity, or in 1876.
What is clear, however, is that the “Portage Band” was not “partitioned into three” as the TARR Report states, first of all because there never was a “Portage Band”, and secondly, because of the facts cited above.
With respect to reserves, “. . . inasmuch as there has been a difference of opinion between the said Indians and the Commissioner of Indian Affairs as to the Reserve to be allotted to the said Indians and its locality, a Reserve having been surveyed on the south side of the River Assiniboine [the Wagner Reserve] but not accepted by the said Indians, it is hereby agreed with regard to the Reserve promised by the said treaty that to the band of Yellow Quill, a Reserve shall be assigned by Her Majesty’s Commissioner . . . to be selected in the region of country they now inhabit, and to be approved of by the said band (emphasis added), but said Reserve shall not be nearer to the Portage than 20 miles.” The White Mud River band “shall be recognized as a distinct band and Nawachewaykapow shall be accepted as their chief.”
Curiously, the agreement continues to say: “. . . and with regard to the remainder of the Band, a reserve shall be selected for them in some suitable locality. . .”This is not the first mention of this mystery group. What reserve were they ever given?
The question remains open as to who are the “remainder of the Band” that would not have been included in the White Mud River group, Yellow Quill’s group or Short Bear’s group.
The preamble to the Treaty states that the arrangements made regarding reserves were “subject to Her Majesty’s approval.”
This phrase, “subject to Her Majesty’s approval”, has been interpreted to mean the Privy Council had to ratify the terms of the agreement before it could come into effect. Article 1 of the agreement, settling the “Outside Promises” controversy, was ratified by Order in Council PC 707 dated July 21, 1876. However, David Mills, Laird’s successor as Minister of the Interior, refused to recommend ratification of Article 3, settling the “belt dispute”, and alloting reserves to each the three Bands. Mills was concerned that the area selected by Yellow Quill in Twp 5, R11, WPM over land previously surveyed in 1973 under the Dominion Lands Act, contained a number of alienations to homesteaders, the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the School Endowment. Mills was also firmly of the opinion that Indian reserves should not be located in surveyed territory. [TARR Report p. 25].
The written Treaty stipulates that the Crown reserves navigation rights on waterways. The agreement continued:
“. . . inasmuch, as by the said Treaty, the Reserve to be allotted to the original Band was one hundred and sixty acres of land for each family of five or in that proportion for larger or smaller families, together with a tract enclosing the same, equivalent to twenty-five square miles of equal breadth, it is hereby agreed that the separate reserves to be granted to the said three bands shall contain an amount of land equal to that stipulated to be given to the original band, and such land shall be assigned to each Band in proportion to their relative numbers so that each band shall receive their fair and just share of said land.”
In other words, in addition to the Treaty Land Entitlement by the formula, each of the bands is entitled to its proportion of the 25 square-mile belt. If each band takes a third,that’s eight and a third square miles each. If it is to be decided by proportion of population, Sandy Bay’s proportion would be smaller but additional information is needed to calculate precisely. It is believed, however, that the largest band, Short Bear’s (now Long Plain) settled its Treaty Land Entitlement on the 1/3 basis, leaving it open for the other two to claim “their third”.
Chief Yellow Quill agreed only that notwithstanding that these two bands were to have theretain the belt which was to surround their reserve in addition to their own reserve. However, the Crown representatives did not agree to this proposal and proceeded unilaterally. The agreement which was signed following the meeting is silent or ambiguous with respect to the areas of dispute.
The Treaty also stipulates that the White Mud Band would have a Chief and two headmen.
Morris reported that Yellow Quill cheerfully signed the draft agreement Morris had prepared, saying he “now understood what he never did before,” which Morris interpreted to mean what had been decided at the Stone Fort Treaty.
It is open to question whether this can be called an adhesion to Treaty. Had approvalbeen received from the Imperial Crown? Was Morris appointed as a Royal Treaty Commission for the purpose of this Treaty Conference? As to the Order in Council, it makes no reference to the division of the bands or the allocation of reserves – what authority to Morris have to include these matters in an Agreement?
The signing included three chiefs, six of the ten councillors, three interpreters and the federal representatives, including Morris, Reid and Graham. Two of Yellow Quill’s councillors, Oosawepeeckece20 and Wayrewaykee,21 refused to sign, “saying they had agreed by the mouth”.
Under pressure from Morris, one Councillor did sign, but “the other persistently refused”. He eventually did sign. Signing with Yellow Quill was Weeanmetahcouse.22
Signing with Keskeemahquat [Short Bear] were Kecheweese24 and Peter Prince (son of Peguis). Chief Nawachewaykapow and Baptiste Spence26 signed for White Mud River. Kasoway, the noted Saulteaux free trader (and a member of Yellow Quill’s community, is listed as an official witness. Yellow Quill accepted a medal and uniform. While Morris was with Yellow Quill, he must have been very conscious of the crisis building not very far to the West with the Sioux. He did not know, though, only a few days after he finished negotiating with YellowQuill, on June 25, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse would be meeting General George Custer in the Battle of the Little Big Horn, an event which would have repercussions in the Canadian North West. Morris communicated the results of his meeting with Yellow Quill to the Minister of the Interior on July 8, 1876. Morris reported that as a result of the agreement he had achieved, Short Bear appears on the very first Yellow Quill paylist and continues on every annual paylist until the Short Bear band is formed. This appears to contradict the position that Short Bear had been out west on the Plains, and had recently come back to Portage.
“Yellow Quill is to go without delay to look up a reserve, and as there are no settlers in the region in Question, (emphasis added) I propose thatif Mr. Reid sees no objection to the locality he should at once lay it off,so as to effectually terminate the chronic difficulty with this Band. Ishall be glad to receive by telegram your approval of his doing so.
“After Surveyor Reid completed his surveys, he reported to Morris on July 12, 1876:
“I would mention in conclusion that ‘the Short Bear’ and the Chief of the White Mud Band expressed the utmost satisfaction and regard for the manner your Excellency saw fit to settle the difficult question in connection with their lands.”
Thus it was that the Long Plain First Nation became located at Long Plain, and how it became a First Nation with its own Chief and Council.