Saturday, April 19, 2008

Treaty of Old Crossing


I grew up with many of the descendants of the early Metis and indigenous peoples. By my time, there were far fewer living in our area than in my grandmother's or even my mother's time, but there were some families still here. The names Jerome, Gooselaw, Parenteau, LeMasurier, Monette, and LaPeire (to name only a few) were not only familiar, but I went to school with some of them.

Since beginning this blog, I have started thinking more deeply about who we were, and who we are as a result. For these families, I wanted to know about what happened to their ancestors on the indigenous side, why, and when. So I started digging...

According to this website, the original tribes in our area were the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Chippewa (or Ojibway), and Dakota (part of the Sioux nation). Also, due to our close proximity to Canada, there are many families with bloodlines from the Manitoba tribes, which included many found in the U.S., but also the Cree and Assiniboine.

Going back to the early days of settlers and natives mixing, it was mostly cordial (I say mostly because human nature always gets all of us in trouble sooner or later!) The more the settlers came, the more the different communities were stressed. One group pushed, the other pushed back. Terrible consequences befell the native peoples, many succumbing or closely succumbing to starvation. Out of this (and other issues) came the 1862 uprising. Not coincidentally, I assume, more aggressive treaties were the result.

One such treaty was the Treaty with the Chippewa-Red Lake and Pembina Bands, 1863 - or as it is otherwise known as, the Treaty of Old Crossing.

You can read the treaty itself here...

NOTE: A very interesting blog post about conditions on North Dakota reservations has a lot of great discussion on it on many relevant topics concerning the native populations living on them today, as a direct result of the treaty above and others like it. I must say, I wasn't aware of what one commenter to the post says about Pembina's industry (i.e., MCI bus plant) being subsidized. If that is true, I can understand why Pembina did what it did, but I must say the tribe offered a very creative solution that would have saved the state from subsidizing the company...