First Nations Land Surrenders on the Prairies, 1896-1911


Excerpt from the Introduction, Page xiii, xvi:  

"In the 1870s, the Government of Canada negotiated various treaties with the aboriginal peoples of the prairies in order to protect them and their way of life in the face of an incoming tide of settlers from the east. One of the crucial ingredients these treaties promised was land that would be reserved for the Indians. And yet, less than a dozen years into the new century, almost a quarter of those valuable reserves that were considered essential to enable Indians to make the transition to self-sufficiency through agriculture had been surrendered back to the government. What were the forces driving these surrenders, and how were they accomplished in practice? Answers to these questions can be sought in a sampling of 25 surrenders and their surrounding circumstances during the surge in surrender activity from 1896 and 1911." (xvi).

"The Indian Claims Commission is currently investigating several claims founded on allegations that historical surrenders of land reserved to First Nations under the prairie treaties were unlawful. The Commission’s interest in prairie treaty surrenders between 1896 and 1911 stems, first, from the sheer number and size of the surrenders that occurred during this brief and shameful period in Canadian history. Over 100 surrenders of treaty reserve land were obtained by the Crown in this region between the late 1890s and the 1930s. In the study period alone – 1896 to 1911 – 21 per cent of the lands reserved to prairie First Nations were surrendered to the Crown to make way for western expansion and an influx of immigrants. These lands had been promised under treaties signed only a few decades earlier, in the 1870s, and in many cases had been set aside just a few years before their surrender" (xiii).

The attached introduction includes a breakdown of each chapter.

An Electronic Publication is available here.


Publication Information

Martin-McGuire, Peggy. First Nation Land Surrenders on the Prairies, 1896-1911. Ottawa: Indian Claims Commission, 1998.

Martin-McGuire, Peggy
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