Plains Chiefs Appeal to Government for Help

Prominent Cree chiefs—led by Chief Sweetgrass—visited W.J. Christie at Fort Edmonton and had him write a letter on their behalf, hoping to enter into an agreement with the government that could provide them with provisions and help their transition to agriculture. They referred to their hardships including: epidemic disease, the bison disappearance and starvation.

Leads

Morris, Alexander. The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North- West Territories Including the Negotiations on which they were based, and other Information relating thereto. Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1991.

Other Note

Various other Cree communities involved in drafting this letter, but Sweetgrass was the paramount leader.

Result
This text outlines the Aboriginal desire to enter into a treaty agreement where their well-being would be provided for despite the changing environment of the Canadian West. It was not until 1876 that the Canadian government decided to act on the Aboriginal concerns, when the need to extinguish Aboriginal title became an immediate necessity. The Government of Canada would negotiate treaties in the west not for the benefit of Indigenous peoples, but to allot land for European settlement of the west. Intentions were motivated by economic prosperity and not out of concern for social welfare.
Rural or Urban
rural
Start Date
1871-04-13
Theme(s)
Sub Event
Government Delays Treaty Until 1876
Community