728 x 90

Treaty 2 - 150 Years


As if on cue the sun broke through the clouds as Treaty 2 Territory Grand Chief Eugene Eastman told those gathered outside the Anishinaabe Sharing Lodge in Wasagaming, Aug. 21, about the importance of Riding Mountain to the Indigenous people of the area.

The gathering was being held to mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 2, entered into by representatives of the Queen of England and Ireland and Anishinaabe of the area, on Aug. 21, 1871.

“We sit here on this beautiful land, we have this beautiful lake here, beautiful water. Our people were here hundreds of years ago, before anyone else,” Eastman told those assembled.

“But it held more than that, it held life. There is animals here that walk the land . . . the four legged. They provide life for our people, my dad always told me that.”

He shared a teaching of his father who urged him to offer tobacco each time before making the journey up the mountain to honour the spirits present.

“He said there is strength here. I asked him why and he said ‘those are the creator’s animals. They are closer to the creator than we are so those are his animals,” Eastman said.

Eastman also mentioned the lessons his parents and grandparents taught him about Lake Katherine to the east.

“People gathered from all over, way before the treaty. As you can see today we have a chief from Peguis, we have representatives from Pine Creek, from all over,” he said. “This is a sacred place where the people smoked their pipes, they chose leadership, they sat in peace and harmony. It is very important that we recognize that and honour that when we come up to this beautiful land.”

The gathering was originally set to be held in Ebb and Flow First Nation, but had to be moved because of health protocols, Eastman said.

“I wondered why. Now I know why. There is a reason that we are here today,” he said.

The event not only served as recognition of the treaty’s 150th anniversary, but as the start of the Government of First Nations in Treaty 2 Territory’s fight to have the treaty finally implemented, executed and honoured after a century-and-a-half of waiting.

“I want to thank all of you for helping us awaken this dream that leadership had over the past 150 years and all of the elders who have said it is time to wake up and stand up for ourselves and do what we need to do,” said Chief Norman Bone of Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation.

The Treaty 2 government - which serves the First Nations of Dauphin River, Ebb and Flow, Gambler, Keeseekoowenin Ojibway, Lake St. Martin, Little Saskatchewan, O-Chi-Chak-Ko-Sipi, Pinaymootang, Skownan and Tootinaowaziibeeng - maintains the land included in the territory was never ceded, released or surrendered and it will continue to fight to preserve the land and their inherent rights as First Nations.

Signed at Manitoba House Fur Trading Post on the western shore of Lake Manitoba 15 miles north of the Narrows, Treaty 2 was entered into with the purpose of opening up the territory to settlement and immigration.

Signatories included Commissioner Wemyss M. Simpson on behalf of the Crown and chiefs and headmen named by the people gathered - Sousonse (Little Long Ears), “for the Swan Creek and Lake Manitoba Indians”; Masahkeeyash (He Who Flies to the Bottom) and “Richard Woodhouse, whose Indian name is Keweetahquinnayash (He Who Flies Around the Feathers), for the Indians of Fairford and the neighbouring localities”; Francois or Broken Fingers “for the Indians of Waterhen River and Crane River and the neighbouring localities”; and Mekis (The Eagle) or Giroux, “for the Indians of Riding Mountains and Dauphin Lake and the remainder of the Territory.”

The Treaty 2 territory extends north from the mouth of the Winnipeg River up the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, west across the lake to Lake Manitoba and following its north shore across the centre and southwest of Manitoba, at Waterhen Lake further west across Lake Winnipegosis and south along the Shell River to the Assiniboine, to the Moose Mountains in southeastern Saskatchewan.

From there it goes south to the Canada-U.S. border and back east to the beginning of Treaty 1 Territory.

Treaty 2 territory lies to the west and north of Treaty 1. Treaty 2 territory includes 8,676,828 hectares of land (21,440,908 million acres). Included within its borders are Riding Mountain, Duck Mountain, Turtle Mountain, Hecla/Grindstone and Moose Mountain.

The Treaty 2 Territory 150 Year Commemoration took place over two days and included several ceremonies, teachings, elder talks, cultural displays, feasts and entertainment.

Among the highlights was the presentation of Treaty 2 medals to Treaty 2 Chiefs and headmen by Treaty Relations Commission of (TRCM) Treaty Commissioner Loretta Ross and TRCM Council of Elders chair Dr. Harry Bone of Keeseekoowenin Ojibway Nation and Council of Elders member Florence Paynter from Sandy Bay First Nation.

Replicas of the original 1871 medals were also gifted to everyone in attendance.