Negotiating the Numbered Treaties: An Intellectual and political biography of Alexander Morris


Publisher's Abstract:

"Alexander Morris, the main negotiator of many of the numbered treaties on the prairies, has often been portrayed as a parsimonious agent of the government, bent on taking advantage of First Nations chiefs and councillors. Author Robert J. Talbot takes a different view. He sees Morris as a man deeply sympathetic to the challenges faced by Canada's Indigenous peoples as they sought to secure their future in the face of encroaching settlement and the disappearance of the buffalo. In Talbot's analysis, Morris held the chiefs in high esteem - he viewed them as wise and pragmatic leaders and skilled negotiators who made a convincing case for more favourable terms than Morris's colleagues in government were prepared to offer.

As Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba and the North West Territories in the 1870s, Morris was responsible for negotiating Treaties 3 to 6, and renegotiating Treaties 1 and 2. According to Talbot, both Morris and the First Nations negotiators viewed the treaties as the basis of a new, reciprocal arrangement among those who would share the land. Indeed, by the end of his appointment, Morris was seriously at odds with a myopic federal administration that favoured inaction over honouring its treaty promises.

Talbot's research reveals Morris as a man of his time - but also a man who managed to embrace a larger concept of nationhood than successive federal governments imagined or were willing to accept. This is Morris's story, but it is equally the story of the prairie treaties and the western expansion of Canada. This book is a must read for anyone seeking to understand confederation, the western expansion of Canada, and the treaties that are so important in First Nations - governmental relations today."

Publication Information

Talbot, Robert J. Negotiating the Numbered Treaties: An Intellectual and Political Biography of Alexander Morris. Saskatoon: Purich Pub., 2009.

Talbot, Robert J.
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