Farmers at Duck Lake Attempt to Buy Self-Binder


Six or seven First Nations farmers attempted to collectively purchase a self-binder. This purchase required and received approval from the Indian Affairs-appointed farm instructor. Following the approval of the farm instructor, the dealer of the self-binder had to acquire consent from the Indian Agent. Although the dealer made the request to Indian Agent McGibbon, it was refused.

In 1889, Hayter Reed distributed a circular to Indian Agents introducing his new "peasant farming" policy. This policy put in place restrictions on Aboriginal farming wherein they could only cultivate smaller plots of land using only a few inferior tools modelled after the practices of farming peasants in medieval Europe. Reed's personal philosophy of agriculture and economic development was based on a social Darwinian model which posited that communities needed to progress through various stages of technological evolution. As such, communities with no prior agricultural experience were required to begin at one of the earliest stages, known colloquially in the DIA as "peasant farming." Families were required to produce the majority of their tools, which were quite rudimentary. It was extremely difficult to farm large plots of land with these simple tools - quite a bit more time and energy consuming than using modern machinery. Indigenous bands repeatedly expressed their frustrations with this policy, as it made their efforts to effectively participate in the agricultural economy largely useless. As well, there is evidence that groups were treated arbitrarily - those communities that had already purchased modern farm implements/machinery were allowed to keep theirs. However, those communities who had not yet been able to purchase farm machinery were unable to do so. This policy would stay in place until 1896, and this is likely why Indian Agent McGibbon rejected the request to purchase farming machinery.