The Robinson Treaties - Toronto, 24th September, 1850
The Treaties with The Indians of Manitoba, The North-West Territories,
and Kee-Wa-Tin, in The Dominion of Canada.
Sir:--I have the honor herewith to transmit the Treaty which on
the part of the Government I was commissioned to negotiate with
the tribes of Indians inhabiting the northern shore of Lakes Huron
and Superior; and I trust that the terms on which I succeeded in
obtaining the surrender of all the lands in question, with the exception
of some small reservations made by the Indians, may be considered
satisfactory. They were such as I thought it advisable to offer,
in order that the matter might be finally settled, without having
any just grounds of complaint on the part of the Indians.
The Indians had been advised by certain interested parties to insist
on such extravagant terms as I felt it quite impossible to grant;
and from the fact that the American Government had paid very liberally
for the land surrendered by their Indians on the south side of Lake
Superior, and that our own in other parts of the country were in
receipt of annuities much larger than I offered, I had some difficulty
in obtaining the assent of a few of the chiefs to my proposition.
I explained to the chiefs in council the difference between the
lands ceded heretofore in this Province and those then under consideration,
they were of good quality and sold readily at prices which enabled
the Government to be more liberal, they were also occupied by the
whites in such a manner as to preclude the possibility of the Indian
hunting over or having access to them whereas the lands now ceded
are notoriously barren and sterile, and will in all probability
never be settled except in a few localities by mining companies,
whose establishments among the Indians, instead of being prejudicial,
would prove of great benefit as they would afford a market for any
things they may have to sell, and bring provisions and stores of
all kinds among them at reasonable prices.
Neither did the British Government contemplate the removal of the
Indians from their present haunts to some (to them) unknown region
in the far West, as had been the case with their brethren on the
I told them that the two chiefs who were in Toronto last winter
(Shinguacouse and Nebennigoebing) only asked the amount which the
Government had received for mining locations, after deducting the
expenses attending their sale. That amount was about eight thousand
pounds which the Government would pay them without any annuity or
certainty of further benefit; or one-half of it down, and an annuity
of about one thousand pounds.
There were twenty-one chiefs present, about the same number of
principal men, and a large number of other Indians belonging to
the different bands, and they all preferred the latter proposition,
though two of them (Shinguacouse and Nebennigoebing) insisted on
receiving an annuity equal to ten dollars per head.
The chiefs from Lake Superior desired to treat separately for their
territory and said at once in council that they accepted my offer.
I told them that I would have the treaty ready on the following
morning, and I immediately proceeded to prepare it, and as agreed
upon they signed it cheerfully at the time appointed.
I then told the chiefs from Lake Huron (who were all present when
the others signed) that I should have a similar treaty ready for
their signature, the next morning when those who signed it would
receive their money; and that as a large majority of them had agreed
to my terms I should abide by them.
I accordingly prepared the treaty and proceeded on the morning
of the ninth instant to the council-room to have it formally executed
in the presence of proper witnesses--all the chiefs and others were
present. I told them I was then ready to receive their signatures;
the two chiefs, Shinguacouse and Nebennigoebing, repeated their
demand of ten dollars a head by way of annuity, and also insisted
that I should insert in the treaty a condition securing to some
sixty half-breeds a free grant of one hundred acres of land each.
I told them they already had my answer as to a larger annuity, and
that I had no power to give them free grants of land. The other
chiefs came forward to sign the treaty and seeing this the two who
had resisted up to this time also came to the table and signed first,
the rest immediately following.
I trust his Excellency will approve of my having concluded the
treaty on the basis of a small annuity and the immediate and final
settlement of the matter, rather than paying the Indians the full
amount of all moneys on hand, and a promise of accounting to them
for future sales. The latter course would have entailed much trouble
on the Government, besides giving an opportunity to evil disposed
persons to make the Indians suspicious of any accounts that might
Believing that His Excellency and the Government were desirous
of leaving the Indians no just cause of complaint on their surrendering
the extensive territory embraced in the treaty, and knowing there
were individuals who most assiduously endeavored to create dissatisfaction
among them, I inserted a clause securing to them certain prospective
advantages should the lands in question prove sufficiently productive
at any future period to enable the Government without loss to increase
This was so reasonable and just that I had no difficulty in making
them comprehend it, and it in a great measure silenced the clamor
raised by their evil advisers.
The annuities under these treaties have recently been increased,
the following item having been inserted in the Supplies Act of Canada,
viz., "Annual grant to bring up annuities payable under the
Robinson Treaty to the Chippawa of Lakes Huron and Superior, from
96 cents to $4 per head, $14,000."
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