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!