Records and Reconciliation: Treaty #8

Image: Facsimile Copy of Treaty 8, 1899 (SPRA 007.04.09)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

The item we are highlighting today is a copy of Treaty # 8 from the Spirit of the Peace fonds (fonds 007). The original treaty is held by Library and Archives Canada.

In 1899 the final text of Treaty 8 was presented for signature by various chiefs and heads across the District by Commissioners from Ottawa, after consultation the preceding year.   A close reading of the final version of the Treaty reveals several divergences from the Report of the Commissioners of negotiations during the preceding year, leading to agreements made in face-to-face not being included in the actual Treaty. The conflicting versions of the Commissioner Report and the final text endorsed by the chiefs and headmen has led to claims of immunity to taxation, freedom from religious interference, as well as the unauthorized imposition of residential schools which have been the centre of subsequent court challenges from indigenous individuals and groups, all unsuccessful at this point.

Why would the Government of Canada not bring forward an exact record of the negotiations as the basis of the final text of the Treaty? Why not search and see if other Commissioner Reports for earlier treaties are not the same as the final text of those treaties?

 

Records and Reconciliation: H.O.P Lake

Image: Lumber Mill on the Cutbank River and H.O.P. Lake, [2005] (SPRA 0630.06.14)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

This week, we are showcasing a document from the Hodgson family fonds (Fonds 630). You can view of digitized copy of the document on Alberta on Record. The document appears to be part of a larger document as it is numbered page 28-30.

This textual record describes how Lea Hodgson and his father John left their farm in Hythe to create a lumber mill on the Cutbank River. It goes on the detail the history of the Mill. The second section in this document is called H.O.P. Lake. This section describes how Lea and his friends “discovered” H.O.P Lake (later, One Island Lake). According to the story, the key to the discovery was “handed to him” by an Indigenous trapper who frequently stopped in the area. The trapper had told Lea about a lake that “could be found by following the moccasin trail, a beautiful lake of clean as crystal water, with a good beach, a lake surrounded by tall pine trees, a lake full of [rainbow trout].” The lake was later surveyed by the British Columbia land offices and divided into private properties.

Like many resources of the South Peace. One Island Lake was known to Indigenous peoples long before the arrival of non-Indigenous trappers and settlers. Although this traditional knowledge is often unacknowledged in settler narratives, it is credited in this document: the lake was “as far as Lea knew…undiscovered by white man.” This story shows the continued knowledge-sharing from Indigenous peoples to non-Indigenous settlers well into the twentieth century. It also shows the establishment of private and government control over the rich natural lands which had been utilized by Indigenous peoples since time immemorial.

Records and Reconciliation: Iskoteo

Photograph: Iskoteo, [ca. 1995]. (SPRA 0603.01.239)

In 2020, the South Peace Regional Archives launched a major project, titled “Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records,” with financial support from Library and Archives Canada. The purpose of the project was to increase awareness of and access to Indigenous-related records within the Archives’ collections: by re-appraising, describing or re-describing, and digitizing more than 300 records in 70 fonds. This project is vital step in the Archives’ ongoing work towards Reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. We are now able to share these records with the community.

This photograph is from the 1995 Grande Prairie Canada Winter Games Host Society fonds (Fonds 603). It shows a close up of face of the Iskoteo character from the Winter Games. His eagle helmet is visible in the image.

One of the mandates of the Culture Division of the Games Host Committee was to expose people to northern Alberta culture. The overall theme for the cultural program was “Iskoteo”, the Cree word for the Northern Lights. The Cultural Events proposal for the character describes Iskatao (later, Iskoteo) as a modern Shaman that is “represented as a modern hero, clown, guide, traveller, storyteller, and historian…he wears the Eagle helmet, crested with a flaming mohawk. At his back is a fantail that opens out into a back pack encompassing the four elements.”

The cultural programming of the Grande Prairie Winter Games was experienced by thousands of people. Many heralded the Games for its inclusion and celebration of Indigenous peoples.

To view more digitized images of the Iskoteo character, visit Alberta on Record.  Do you recognize the model? Contact the Archives to let us know!

Indigenous Depictions in Parade Footage

Above: Still from “Wedding, Parade, Christmas, and Travels.” 8mm film ca. 1969. (Fonds 039: Bert and Miriam Tieman Fonds, SPRA 1985.3.82F)

The South Peace Regional Archives aims to gather, preserve, and share the historical records of the South Peace Region of Alberta, now and in the future. These records reflect the personal, cultural, social, economic, and political life of the South Peace River Country of Alberta. These records often contain language and imagery that are representative of the time in which they were created. As a result, they may include instances of problematic wording, cultural references, and stereotypes that are no longer used or appropriate today.

While completing a recent multimedia project, our staff discovered several archival films with historic parade footage; some scenes include parade floats or costumes depicting Indigenous people that would now be considered offensive. It is not always clear from the footage whether the persons depicted are themselves Indigenous or in what context they were included in the parade. Therefore, it is not always possible to know whether these are instances of self-representation or misrepresentation. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its presence and potentially hurtful impact.

The South Peace Regional Archives is committed to continuing our path forward in the Reconciliation process. To remove these depictions would mean erasing evidence of the systemic racism and discrimination that many Indigenous people have faced in our community, both in the past and still to this day. In several cases, removing these depictions would mean erasing how some Indigenous people represented themselves. This decision was made in consultation with the SPRA Indigenous History Committee and in accordance with the Association of Canadian Archivists’ Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. All future posts that contain these films will include a content note referring readers to this post.

We are currently completing a major project to identify and address materials related to Indigenous peoples within the collection in order to provide culturally-appropriate descriptions and contextual information. This work is part of our ongoing effort to “serve the community as an inclusive, participatory archives: one that all can contribute to and access community history” (South Peace Regional Archives Strategic Goals, 2019-2022). If you, or anyone you know, has information that would help us contextualize these depictions, we encourage you to reach out to the Archives.

 

We acknowledge with respect that the South Peace Regional Archives is located on the ancestral and traditional lands of many Indigenous peoples. This territory is covered by Treaty 8, signed in 1899. The continuing relationship between Indigenous peoples and this land contributes to the rich knowledge and culture of the South Peace region.

We are grateful to serve the people on this land and honor the Calls for Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Soldier Spotlight: Agnes Anders

Agnes Anders was born in 1920 on the homestead near La Glace/Sexsmith. At age 23 she enlisted in the Navy as a WRN . She was posted in Sydney, NS where she worked most of the 3 years, but was also posted to Ottawa, and Victoria to get discharged in 1946. In 1950 Agnes married Eric Carlson. They had 2 children: Valerie and Renny, and they moved to Fort St. John BC. Agnes taught school in BC. She moved to Sundre, AB for retirement in 2006.

Force: Navy – Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS)
Source: La Glace – Yesterday and Today p. 101
Sundre Round – up Interview by Patricia Riley Nov. 5, 2013

Agnes Anders, SPRA

The Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.

 

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference files

SPRA 510.12.18.041 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This featured item is from the Indigenous News reference file.  It is an article about Henry Louis Norwest, an Indigenous WWI veteran who had more confirmed sniper hits than any other soldier from countries in the British Empire. Norwest was born in Fort Saskatchewan in 1884 and enlisted in January of 1915.  He had 115 confirmed sniper hits, which means they were observed by another soldier.  He earned four medals for this achievement.  Another soldier described Henry Louis Norwest as being charismatic and quick witted.  Norwest died August 18, 1918 as he was about to pull the trigger on an enemy sniper when a bullet hit him just below his steel helmet.  He is buried near Amiens, France, which is north of Paris.

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference Files

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This item is an article about solving the Raft Baby of the Peace River mystery.  The author of the article, Harrold Fryer, explained that this story was a saga of tragedy and coincidence that remained a mystery for eighteen years.  The baby girl was found by her Uncle who did not know that the baby was his niece, he passed her along to a woman in a nearby Beaver camp who took care of her.  The baby was passed along to different families who cared for her until she reached the Vining family who formally adopted her.  Lilly Vining, the raft baby, did not know her identity for many years until the mystery was solved by Reverend Alfred C. Garrioch. Harrold Fryer’s article was adapted from Reverend Alfred C. Garrioch’s A Hatchet Mark in Duplicate.

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

SPRA 510.12.13.001 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Hobbema First Nations Family Group, ca. 1915. SPRA 0052.02-2002.57.01 Part of Field’s Studio fonds

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

For seven years, American born Clarence Field operated a photograph business from his studio in Grande Prairie. He often took the show on the road in an old Model T van. With the Depression reducing the interest in expensive studio portraits, Field’s closed his studio in 1929 and returned to farming. After he died two years later, his wife moved out of the area. Field’s collection of glass negatives were held by various family, friends, and neighbours before finding their way to the South Peace Regional Archives.

Unlike many photographs taken of Indigenous people, this family is largely identified: Michael Buffalo’s family from the Hobbema First Nations in Central Alberta, left to right: Bella, Mary (Nepoose) Buffalo, Margaret, possibly Peggy (Allard) Buffalo, Michael’s mother. It is unknown who originally commissioned these images and for what purpose. Similar images in the Field’s Studio fonds were printed as postcards, which suggests they were posed for commercial reasons. Whatever the original intent for the photograph, for descendants researching their history, images like these can help make important connections to their past.

We have a relatively small number of images depicting Indigenous peoples at the Archives. The disparity between Indigenous and settler records can somewhat skew our understanding of the history of the region. If you have any records you would be willing to share, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.

Finding Memory: Highlights from the Indigenous Reference Files

Image: SPRA 510.12.18.015 Part of the Indigenous Reference Files collection

One of the large projects for our summer student this year was digitizing the Indigenous reference files. This project involved digitizing and describing the reference files related to Indigenous peoples in this region. There are twenty-two Indigenous reference files with twenty centimeters of textual records. This project was prioritized to support the Indigenous History Committee, whose purpose is to examine the ways we can preserve and promote the history of the Indigenous Peoples in the south Peace in order to support reconciliation. This committee was established in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Committee’s (TRC) Calls to Action. The Indigenous Reference File Project was chosen because it helps make Indigenous centered information publicly available.  This helps to do our part in fulfilling the TRC Calls to Action. This project was made possible with funding support from Young Canada Works.

The digitization portion of this project was finished in mid-July. As we create an itemized finding aid for the files we will start to share some of the items through blog posts, like this one!

This item is an article from the Daily Herald Tribune in 1980 about members of the Grande Prairie Friendship Center performing a rain dance in Bear Creek Park to help farmers in the area who were battling with dry fields. The nine members pictured, who are unnamed, were joined by the Mayor Al Romanchuk.  Joe Campbell also joined in full regalia despite being on crutches. The article says that the dance must have worked as it rained the next day!

The reference files give us a glimpse into our local history, and especially now that they are digitized, are an incredibly valuable resource! If you want to see more from the Indigenous reference files, keep your eye on the blog for posts like this.

Renaming the Past, Reclaiming Their Stories: Indigenous Records at the South Peace Regional Archives

Photograph: Two Cree women fleshing a moose hide, 1935. SPRA 0177.074 Part of Ann Macklin fonds.

The South Peace Regional Archives initiated a survey of the region’s holdings in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) call to actions to locate records within their holdings related to Indian Residential Schools. We found very few records related to residential schools, but we did find several records related to Indigenous people and communities in our region. We decided to expand the scope of our research to look for any records related to Indigenous peoples within our holdings.

Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers, we now have a small database of material to share. While we pursue avenues of access, we are sharing some of these images and documents.

A picture is worth a thousand words but without words to provide context, a photograph often raises more questions than they answer. Who were these two women and where was the photograph taken? What was the relationship between the photographer and the women? Are these two women looking over their shoulder to pose for the camera? Or were they startled by it? Was this scene captured by the photographer as an aide memoire or to share “their” experience with friends and family?

We do have some context for the image. Within the Ann Macklin fonds, there are several photographs of hunting trips, including photographs of “Cree family guides”. Perhaps these two women were part of guiding family. With the limited caption, “Two Cree women fleshing a moose hide” we cannot know for sure. The image does provide some evidence of Cree women’s labour and their hide-processing techniques. But it leaves us bereft of valuable personal information that would add richness to the history of the region, the Cree community, and these women in particular.

If you have any information about who these women might be, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us at info@southpeacearchives.org or 780-830-5105.