The 1905 Treaty

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I don’t remember that at all and I don’t think there’s anybody living now who was a witness to the signing of the
Treaty of 1905. Mostly hearsay from people. Maybe just the people I grew up with could tell you about the treaty,
but the ones that you interviewed probably they told you of what they heard from other people. They weren’t born
yet at that time. They’re the same age as me.
I’ll tell you a little bit of what your grandfather, John Spence, related to me about the treaty. He stated that the
Indian Agent came down the Albany River and his job was to select a chief for our community and it wasn’t that
hard of a job to do compared to today’s elections. That year was 1905, your grandfather told me as we were muskrat
trapping up the river. The Indian Agent just picked anybody to be the chief who he thinks would be suitable to be a
chief. The way that Indian Agent handled the election was, he took his four officials and sat them in the front. The
individuals seeking the chief position stood in the front and the person stood up beside the person they preferred. I
guess the person who had the most people standing with him will become a chief and the next would be the deputy
chief with the second-most people and that goes with the other councillors.
After the elections, the Indian Agent talked to the new chief and the councillors to tell them what their
responsibilities were to their people. That’s what your grandfather told me about those events concerning the Indian
Agent. He told the chief that his job was a very important position. When the chief wished to communicate with
the government, the agent would act as a mediator: leave and come back with a message from the government for
the chief.
This Indian Agent said that his job is to negotiate between the natives and the government. That’s what he said the
first time the Indian Agent came into our territory in 1905. There were some Attawapiskat people that came down
to meet the Indian Agent but I don’t recall what year that was.
I don’t understand what you just said about the agreement or the signing of the treaty. I don’t have the full
understanding of what the agreement was and what was done in 1905. This one is my own opinion, when you say
this is our land, this is the fact, it’s true this is our land and everything on it, there’s no doubt at all, this is the fact.
That’s how I see it and every native knows this and that’s how I see it. I think, what? The white man is taking over
our land? The natives have been there from day one, that is wrong and it’s not acceptable. Where were the white
people when the treaty was signed? They weren’t even close by, only the Indian people, our grandfathers, who were
the original inhabitants of this territory. That’s what I hear and that’s the way it was said.
It all started when the Europeans started to explore and settle in our territory and found out our territory was rich
in furs and they were enticed by that. Everybody understood that it was a wrong move to come and settle in our
territory and still is today.


The 1905 Treaty by John Sutherland


treaty 1905 signing river chief Indian Agent government negotiate work Attawapiskat agreement land

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