- Discuss the main differences between pre-Confederation treaties and the numbered treaties signed after Confederation.
Answer: Although many treaties were signed before Confederation, these did not have the same purpose as the numbered treaties. Pre-Confederation treaties, which had proper names, were peace and friendship agreements aimed at sharing land and resources. Numbered treaties were aimed specifically at extinguishing Indigenous right to lands, acquiring land for the Crown, and establishing reserves for the First Peoples. These treaties recognized the right for Indigenous Peoples to use the lands for hunting and fishing, but they did not recognize Indigenous sovereignty over these lands or ownership in fee simple. To the federal government, their obligations with regards to treaties were moral, not legal, and in nature contrary to Indigenous perspectives.
- Describe some of the strategies included in the Indian Act that would implement its goal of assimilating Indigenous Peoples.
Answer: Many provisions of the Indian Act were aimed at enfranchisement, which meant losing Indian status and receiving the franchise (citizenship and the right to vote). For example, if a First Nation woman married a non-Indigenous man, she and her children would lose their status. If any member of a First Nation earned a university degree that granted him professional status as a minister, lawyer, doctor, or teacher, he would lose his status. Further, the superintendent-general of Indian Affairs could also enfranchise any Indigenous individual he considered qualified whether they wanted it or not. Other measures were more directly related to the legal definition of an “Indian”. Specifically, only a person registered as an “Indian” was entitled to that status. These were only some of the provisions intended to accomplish assimilation.
- What made Isapo-Muxika (Crowfoot) an important Indigenous leader?
Answer: Isapo-Muxika (c.1830–90) was not a hereditary Siksika, but he was adopted into the Siksika tribe. As an outsider, he was able to develop relations with all people in western Canada including Euro-Canadian fur-traders, missionaries, and even the NWMP. He used these relationships to help him fight the illegal trade of whisky and rifles, which were destructive to the First Nations in both the Canadian and American West. His collaborative spirit and his willingness to work with the NWMP and other First Nations leaders helped him quell violence during the settling of Siksika territory.