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The Selkirk Treaty, Land Description

The Treaties with The Indians of Manitoba, The North-West Territories, and Kee-Wa-Tin, in The Dominion of Canada.

In the year 1811, the Earl of Selkirk purchased from the Governor and Company of Adventurers trading into Hudson's Bay, in consideration of ten shillings and certain agreements and understandings contained in the Indenture, a large tract of territory within Rupert's Land described in the Indenture as follows:

"All that tract of land or territory being within and forming part of the aforesaid lands and territories of the said Governor and Company, bounded by an imaginary line running as follows, that is to say, beginning on the western shore of the Lake Winnipic, otherwise Winnipeg, at a point in fifty-two degrees and thirty north latitude and thence running due west to the Lake Winnipegoos, otherwise called Little Winnipeg, then in a southerly direction through the said Lake so as to strike its western shore in latitude fifty-two degrees, then due west to the place where the parallel of fifty-two degrees north latitude intersects the western branch of Red River, otherwise called Assiniboine River, then due south from that point of intersection to the height of land which separates the waters running into Hudson's Bay from those of the Missouri and Mississippi, then in an easterly direction along the said height of land to the source of the River Winnipic, or Winnipeg (meaning by such last named river the principal branch of the waters which unite in Lake Sagenagos), thence along the main stream of these waters and the middle of the several lakes through which they flow to the mouth of the Winnipic River and thence in a northerly direction through the middle of Lake Winnipic to the place of beginning." The deed is accompanied by a map intended to show the tract of country, and there is an endorsement on the map that as the surveys were not sufficient to ascertain with precision whether, latitude 52 degrees does intersect the river called Red or Assiniboine River, it was agreed, that in case the waters of Red River, shall on more accurate survey be found, not to extend so far north as latitude 52 degrees, then the west boundary of the tract of land intended to be within the grant, should be a line drawn due north and south, through the post upon the Red River, marked on the plan is "Carlton House."

The Company reserved the right to call upon the Earl to set off one-tenth, however, of the tract for the use of the servants of the Company--and the Earl covenanted, within ten years, to settle within the tract one thousand families, each of them consisting of one married couple at the least, on pain of revocation of the grant, if on receipt of notice to that effect from the Company he did not, within three years after the receipt of the notice, complete the settlement of the one thousand families.

In pursuance of his obligations, Lord Selkirk, in the autumn of the year 1811, sent out a number of families from the County of Sutherland, in Scotland, who spent the winter at Fort Churchill on the western shore of Hudson's Bay. On the arrival of spring, they traveled thence to the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, and thus was commenced the interesting settlement of the Red River, which is now included in the Province of Manitoba. It is not my purpose to notice here the eventful history of the Selkirk colonists, and I will only note the fact that in 1836, the Company bought back the whole tract, from the heirs of Lord Selkirk, for the sum of £84,000, the rights of colonists who had purchased land between 1811 and 1836, being respected.

In the year 1817 the Earl of Selkirk, visited his wide domain, and entered into negotiations with the Indian tribes, for the extinction of their title, to a tract of land described as follows:

"All that tract of land adjacent to Red River and Assiniboine River, beginning at the mouth of Red River and extending along the same as far as Great Forks at the mouth of Red Lake River and along Assiniboine River as far as the Musk Rat River, otherwise called Riviere des Champignons, and extending to the distance of six miles from Fort Douglas on every side, and likewise from Fort Doer, and also from the Great Forks and in other posts extending in breadth to the distance of two English statute miles back from the banks of the river."

The Indians then inhabiting the region were described as being of the Chippawa or Saulteaux and Killistine or Cree nations. They were made to comprehend, the depth of the land they were surrendering, by being told, that it was the greatest distance, at which a horse on the level prairie could be seen, or daylight seen under his belly between his legs. The consideration for the surrender, was, the payment of one hundred pounds of good merchantable tobacco, to each nation annually.

The treaty was signed by Lord Selkirk and by five Indian chiefs, who affixed thereto drawings of the animals after which they were named, by way of signature. The surrender was to the Sovereign Lord, King George the Third. The treaty was accompanied by a map which shows that the tract surrendered extended to Grand Forks in what is now United States territory.

A large portion of the ceded territory is now comprehended in the Territory of Dakota, United States.

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