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The 1905 Petition for Scrip from the Half breeds of Moose Factory1

The issue of claims made by mixed ancestry groups during treaty negotiations was not new to either the Dominion or Ontario. In 1875, Indian Affairs agreed to an adhesion to Treaty No.3 by Half-breeds of Rainy River and Lake. Subsequently, considerable discussion took place within the Indian Department regarding such claims. For example, in 1902, Indian Commissioner J.A. McKenna suggested preparations for Treaty No.9 should include consideration of Halfbreed claims: I note that the communication from the Indians describes the [Treaty No.9] territory as being in Ontario and Keewatin, while the maps submitted show the territory as being in Ontario and Quebec, the main portion being in the former Province. I mention this because in extinguishing the aboriginal title in the territory covered by Treaty Three there has been an apparent inconsistency. The territory is partly in Ontario and partly in Keewatin and a portion extends into Manitoba. The Halfbreed Claims Commissions of 1885 [illegible] and the Department of the Interior recognized the Halfbreeds of the ceded portion of Keewatin as North West Halfbreeds. There was therefore no course open for me but to do likewise. The consequence is that Halfbreeds living on the Keewatin side of the English River are recognized as having territorial rights and get scrip, scrip which they may locate in Manitoba or any part of the North West Territories, while the Halfbreeds on the Ontario side who naturally comes and makes claim has to be told that he has no territorial rights. We must take care to avoid the perpetuation of this. Therefore I would at once say that the suggested extinguishment of Indian title should stand until the settlement of Halfbreed claims is completed, so that we may start with a clean slate in that respect. Then to avoid as far as possible the appearance of inconsistency, I would suggest that the extinguishment be confined to Ontario and Quebec and be made in the form of an adhesion to the Robinson Huron Treaty, with any alterations which difference in conditions may make desirable. The historical documents and literature reviewed for this study indicate that Moose Factory is the only location within the 1905-1906 Treaty 9 territory at which a mixed ancestry group made a formal representation for explicit recognition and consideration within the context of the treaty. A petition signed by five half breeds of Moose Factory was made to the Government of Ontario in the autumn of 1905:

Gwen Reimer, and Jean-Philippe Chartrand. A Historical Profile of the James Bay Areas Mixed European-Indian or Mixed EuropeanInuit Community. Ottawa: Justice Canada, March 14, 2005.

We the undersigned, half breeds of Moose Factory, beg to petition the Government of Ont. for some consideration, as we are told by His Majestys Treaty Commissioners that no provision is at present made for us. We understand that script has been granted to the half breeds of the North West Territory. We have been born & brought up in the country, and are thus by our birth and training unfit to obtain a livelihood in the civilized world. Should the fur traders at any time not require our services we should be obliged to support ourselves by hunting. We therefore humbly pray that you will reconsider your present arrangements and afford us some help. [Signed] Andrew Morrison George McLeod William McLeod William Moore William Archabald The above represent various absentees at Charlton & on HBC Vessels. [Signed] J.G. Mowat
[Document E-25: ONAS, MNR Indian Land File 186220. This document is handwritten and appears to be the original petition. A typewritten version attached to Indian Affairs cover letter, 18 September 1905 has COPY clearly written at top (Document E 26: NAC RG10, Vol. 3093, File 289,300). Both versions are undated.]

Ontario officials promptly returned to Ottawa the petition from certain half-breeds at Moose Factory, with a note stating that although the petition mentions the Government of Ontario, the petitioners probably mean the Government of the Dominion. Indian Affairs insisted it was properly addressed, adding: The Treaty 9 Commission to whom the Petition was presented had no power to deal with Halfbreed claims [without] the Province of Ontario, [that] the Petitioners, therefore, referred for action to the Provincial Treasurer was [?] conversant with the terms of the James Bay Indian Treaty. The petition is returned herewith. Hereafter, the Provincial Treasurer A.J. Matheson decided to look into the matter, requesting Indian Affairs to send information on the number of Half breeds in Treaty No.9. In November 1905 Deputy Superintendent General Frank Pedley reported that the petition represented 25-30 people who were not admitted to the treaty pay list because they were not living the Indian mode of life: I find that the only halfbreeds in Treaty No.9 are those interested in the petition

which was forwarded to your Secretary on the 23 rd of September last. These families comprise perhaps twenty-five or thirty people. They were refused treaty by the Commissioners on the ground that they were not living the Indian mode of life. The only thing which might be done for these people is to admit them into the Indian treaty if you thought advisable to do so; but of course, as they are residents of the Province and would come under the same category as the rest of your Indian adherents of Treaty No.9, and would be paid by your Government, it is a matter which you will have to decide. The Treaty Commissioners promised to bring the matter before you for consideration. It appears little attention was paid by the Ontario government and the following March, Indian Affairs requested that Matheson respond to the petition before the Inspector next visits Moose Factory as it was probable that he will be asked by the halfbreeds how your Government proposes to deal with their application. Matheson replied on April 2, 1906 that 160 acres would be offered to each of the halfbreeds: to the claims of certain half-breeds at Moose Factory for consideration, this Government would be prepared to allow these half-breeds, the number not estimated being over fifty, 160 acres of land reserving minerals; to be selected in the District in which they at present reside, such selection not to interfere with Hudsons Bay posts, or Indian Reserves, or lands to be required for railway purposes or for town sites as it may be some time before the district in question is surveyed. The only object that can be obtained at present is to satisfy these men that the Government is prepared to give them reasonable consideration of their claims to this extent. By 1909, at least one of the mixed-ancestry petitioners tired of waiting, and William Archibald requested that he and his family be placed on the Treaty paylist as Indians. A letter from Indian Agency Inspector J.G. Ramsden in September 1909 indicates that the half-breed question at Moose Factory remained unresolved: Wm. Archibald of Moose Factory desires to be placed on the Indian Band list. He states that he and family appeared before the Commissioners in 1905, that all their names and ages were taken and consideration promised. His wifes people all on list he states. The half-breed question at Moose will have to be dealt with. I would like some instruction with reference to this question. The reply from Indian Affairs to Ramsdens request for instruction, simply referred him to the 1905 and 1906 correspondence cited above.

Edites and Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute