Fun Facts About our First People: The 1817 Treaty

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Selkirk Treaty map of 1817

Just outside Lac du Bonnet lies Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. An Anishinaabe First Nation, it is home to over 1,700 people, including an on-reserve population of around 600. The main reserve is surrounded by the Rural Municipality of St. Clements, except for a small lakeshore portion on Lake Winnipeg.

The reserve has formed an important bond with Lac du Bonnet over the past couple years. In 2017, the Lac du Bonnet District Museum held its annual heritage day in honour of the First Nation, showcasing Anishinaabe culture and heritage. Members of the First Nation came to speak about their customs and culture and its importance to the history of our region.

Tipi Joe Creations also treated the crowd to a tipi raising. Speaking about why the Historical Society wanted to highlight Indigenous culture, president Gus Wruck said it was a desire to take part in the process of reconciliation that fueled the thinking behind the event. In December, another event was held, this time at the Lac du Bonnet Community Centre, where an Anishinaabe heritage celebration was organized by the museum and Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.

Attendees learned a lot of important facts about Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, including:

The 1817 Treaty

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Chief Peguis

Brokenhead was one of five First Nations that signed the Selkirk Treaty of 1817. In 1811, 116,000 square miles of land in what is now Manitoba was granted to one of HBC’s controlling stockholders, Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk (pictured above on the right).

Lord Selkirk was a Scottish nobleman who wished to settle displaced Highlanders, among others, on the fertile lands surrounding the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. The Red River Settlement – the first European agricultural colony in Western Canada – was established the following year. In order to provide for the peaceful continuation of the settlement, Lord Selkirk and his representatives negotiated with Indigenous leaders, including Chief Peguis, in the area for possession or use of the land extending in two-mile tracts along both sides of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in exchange for an annual payment or gift.

On July 18, 1817, Lord Selkirk signed the treaty with five leaders referred to in the

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Lord Selkirk

document as “Chiefs and Warriors of the Chippeaway or Sautaux Nation, and the Killistine or Cree Nation.” It has become widely known as the Selkirk Treaty. This is the first formal written agreement in Western Canada recognizing Indigenous land rights. It was superseded by Treaty 1 in 1871.

Check back next weekend for Part 2: How Brokenhead Got its Name!

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