TREATY No. 6 – 1876 SIGNING:
The group of Indian communities now known as the Saddle Lake (amalgamated)
Bands entered into formal relations with the Canadian government by their
assent to Treaty Six at Fort Pitt (Saskatchewan) on September 9, 1876. The
bands’ leaders and spokesmen at the treaty negotiations were James Seenum (also
known as Pakan) and Little Hunter (Oonah-tah-mee-na-hoos, or Little Chief).
The people represented at the treaty negotiations by Seenum and Little Hunter
were members of a loosely-connected group of native communities (Cree, Métis,
and a few Stoney) which had grown up in the 19th Century along the north side
of the North Saskatchewan River, stretching from Lac Ste. Anne (on the West)
and to Fort Pitt (on the East).
In 1871, the first of eleven treaties was signed between the Indians and the
Crown, intended by the government to open the way for federal access to and
control of western lands and resources. As the Cree understood it, however, the
treaty would ensure peace and would help them cope with the threats to their
hunting, trapping, and trading way of life which they saw would soon overtake
The treaty was signed on September 9, 1876.
Department of Indian Affairs surveyor J.C Nelson arrived in Alberta in June of
1886 to lay out lands for the Saddle Lake area bands. He then began the survey
of Whitefish Lake I.R No. 128, completing it on July 18, 1886. Nelson then
moved to Waskatenaw and surveyed an entirely separate reserve (Whasatnow I.R
126) for Muskegwatic or Bear’s Ears’ Band. He then returned to Saddle Lake to
discuss the choice of land for Little Hunter, Blue Quill, and James Seenum.
It was partly decided at this meeting, that these reserves would be laid out in
one block, under Pakan, unless Blue Quill held out against it. Blue Quill was
not present, but soon after the meeting he came in from his band’s settlement
at Egg (Whitford) Lake (near what is now Andrew). He confirmed that hey agreed
to abandon their houses and gardens there and to move to Saddle Lake by 1887,
where they would take reserve land.
Final maps of the reserves were completed in 1887, and on May 17, 1889. Order
in Council P.C 1151 confirmed Whitefish Lake I.R 128 for “part of Pakan’s
Band”; Saddle Lake I.R 125 for the bands of Chiefs Little Hunter, James Seenum
and Blue Quill; and Wahsatenow I.R 126 for the band of Chief Bear’s Ears.
(see maps 1a,1b)
The 1886 survey was calculated as follows:
BandNumber of People
James Seenum’s Band (@ 1879)486 people
James Seenum’s Band (transferred from Little Hunter’s Band 1879 – 1886)
Little Hunter’s band (at 1886)81 people
Blue Quill’s Band (at 1886)40 people
Persons absent from reserve12 people
NELSON’S TOTAL:661 people
This figure was then used to calculate the bands’ treaty land entitlement, as
Total population for all three bands:661 people
Entitlement per person: 1 square mile
per family of 5 or 128 acres
Total land entitlement of the three bands at 1886:661 x 128
acres (132.2 square miles)
Total acreage of reserves surveyed in 1886: (see map 1-a)
Saddle Lake I.R 125:73, 600 acres or 115.0
Whitefish Lake I.R 128:11, 200 acres or 17.5
Total:84, 800 acres, or 132.5
Beginning even before the surveys, the Department put pressure on them to move
to Saddle Lake, arguing that they would be better off where good farmland was
available and under the Agency’s close supervision. The survivors of the band,
however, refused to leave their camps and gardens at Waskatenau until 1896. The
members of Wasatnow band were all places on Little Hunter’s pay list in 1896.
They purportedly gave surrender, dated September 26, 1896, exchanging
Wahsatenow I.R for an equal area of land adjoining Saddle Lake I.R. The
addition was chosen at Cache Lake on the North West side of Saddle Lake I.R,
and was surveyed in 1897-1898, and was confirmed by Order in Council in 1889.
In 1900 and 1902, two formal agreements supposedly completed the legal
amalgamation of the Wahsatnow band with the other Saddle Lake Bands.
It is reasonably certain that there is now legally one band – the “Saddle Lake
Band” with equal interests in the lands and resources of I.R 125 (including the
Cache Lake addition) and I.R 128. The groups and residents at the two separate
reserves do, however, have a partly divided band council system as well as a
strong belief in their separate identities.
For reasons of economy, efficiency and convenience, DIA throughout the 1880’s
made persistent and strong efforts to influence all the bands of the area to
settle together in locations close to the Agency and within reach of the
government farm instructor’s establishment.
Pakan’s name alone is affixed to Whitefish Lake I.R 125 was set aside “for the
bands of Chief’s Pakan, Little Hunter, & Blue Quill; I.R 128 for “part
of ‘Pakan’s Band’” and I.R 126 for Bear’s Ear’s Band.
In 1899, when the Cache Lake addition to I.R 125 was finally confirmed, it was
discovered that the amalgamation papers had never been signed.
The Indian Commissioner therefore suggested that either the holdings of each
band be divided up once and for all, or else that a new agreement be made “to
fully amalgamate the bands” owning reserves 125,126,127 and 128.
New documents were prepared but did not reach the agency until late in 1901. In
March of 1902, at a band council meeting, Agent Mann at last discussed the
proposition “carefully” with them. After settling in t the condition that no
Roman Catholic school or mission from Blue Quill’s part of the reserve would be
moved to any other sector of I.R 125, they signed the agreement.
Even if the amalgamation agreements were in fact fully understood and accepted
in 1902, the bands did not find them suitable for very long. Dissatisfaction
with the results of the mergers broke out only a few years after signing.
The final step to date in the formal amalgamation of the two bands was taken in
1953, when the treaty pay lists of the Little Hunter (Saddle Lake), James
Seenum and Blue Quill Bands were merged, as should have been done in 1902. The
two larger bands, however, retained the separate chiefs and council
representation which they had since the re-establishment of the Little Hunter
band Chiefship in 1913.