Presentation on theme: "The Prairies 1870-1896. Intro This chapter will focus on the story of the CPR, and the treaty process pursued by the Canadian government with the Native."— Presentation transcript:
Intro This chapter will focus on the story of the CPR, and the treaty process pursued by the Canadian government with the Native peoples of the prairies. We will also take a closer look at the Métis and their struggle with the government which reached a boiling point in 1885 with the Northwest Rebellion.
The Métis Flee Westward The Manitoba Act, 1870 protected the Métis and their rights. It made French and English the official languages of the province, and it provided for two educational systems—Protestant and Roman Catholic. In addition, 1.4 million acres were reserved as Métis farmland. The troops ordered to keep the peace abused the Métis, actions which were not punished by government. Moreover, the issue of land ownership was not straightforward. The Métis were issued two kinds of scrip (a piece of paper that was similar to money), which enabled them to exchange it for either land or money.
The Métis Flee Westward New problems arose as land speculators began to buy the land for less than what it was worth Métis did not understand the value of the scrip because their traditional economy did not include money or deeds. The speculators then used this land as collateral for larger bank loans, which provided them with more investment capital. As a result, many Métis left Manitoba and gravitated to the Northwest where they tried to recreate their settlement. (fig. 5-1)
The Métis in the Northwest The Métis recreated the seigneurial patterns in the Red River. Life was good for the Métis, until the bison began to disappear in the early 1870s due to their removal to free up land for settlement in the United States and the Canadian Northwest. This decline greatly alarmed the Métis, who adopted the “Laws of St. Laurent” in 1873, which governed all aspects of life in the settlement, including restrictions on the bison hunt in order to preserve it. (Read The Laws of St. Laurent p. 173).
The Métis in the Northwest The Chief Factor at Fort Carlton—the main HBC post in the area—was Lawrence Clarke. He believed that the Métis were inferior, and tried to lower the Métis standard of living. He gave the Métis temporary contracts (p. 173) instead of offering them full-time work, and he paid them as little as possible- trade goods instead of cash=cut down costs of HBC Clarke became the magistrate (pg. 174), which gave him sweeping powers to maintain order and benefit the HBC. The Métis who objected to the low pay, or who attempted to strike for better wages, could be imprisoned.
Under the leadership of Alexander Mackenzie (from 1873-1878), the Métis were largely ignored. It was impossible to make pemmican, which meant loss of food and income for the Métis. When a group of Métis outside the community of St. Laurent began hunting bison before the official St. Laurent hunt had began, Gabriel Dumont, the Métis president of St. Laurent, arrested and fined the participants. Those arrested appealed to Chief Factor Clarke, who issued warrants for the arrest of Dumont and others. The Canadian government agreed that Dumont had acted properly, but they did not censure Clarke, who went ahead and arrested Dumont and his men. He tried them at Fort Carlton, acting as magistrate. The Métis in the Northwest
Only minor fines were imposed, but this incident invalidated the Métis’s Laws of St. Laurent and took away their authority to regulate the buffalo hunt. Following the incident, a priest living in St. Laurent wrote “Everyone took their freedom and ran on the buffalo without any guide than their insatiable (p. 176) keenness, passion for killing, greed and avarice (p. 176). Anarchy (p. 176) and self-interest reigned on the prairie.” (Cranny et. al 176) The Métis were left powerless, without laws to conserve their livelihood.
The Whisky Traders and the NWMP During the 1870s, control of the Northwest gradually passed from the HBC to the Canadian government. One of the first problems facing Ottawa was a fur trade issue. Small American fur-trade companies dominated trade in present-day southern Alberta. These companies traded strong liquor to the Native peoples in return for buffalo robes and other fur. The principal post was Fort Whoop- Up. The liquor traded caused widespread alcoholism among Native peoples, resulting in malnutrition, disease and death.
The Whisky Traders and the NWMP In response, the Canadian government created the North West Mounted Police in 1873, which was to serve both as a police force and a paramilitary organization. (p. 177) Their primary task was to drive out the Whisky traders. This process was hastened (quickened) by an incident involving the whisky traders and the Assiniboin people in 1874. 30 Assiniboin lost their lives. This is known as the Cypress Hills Massacre. The NWMP sent 300 troops to establish control of the area, but by the time they arrived the whisky traders fled to US.