As other means of support have disappeared, so have the Indians of this province applied themselves more energetically to farming and other kindred undertakings for a livelihood.
In the vegetable and root crop the returns show air increase for the last fiscal year over the previous one of something like 44,000 bushels, and in cereals an increase of more than 40,000 bushels. It is a subject for remark that the cultivation of corn is greatly on the increase, so that the yield has been nearly 100,000 bushels, or more than twice the quantity raised in the preceding year, the raising apparently being less precarious than that of other cereals.
Loans to Individual Indians from Funds of Bands. - Last year was the first in which the system of loaning the funds of bands to individual Indians was mentioned. This system is one by which individuals of a band may, through the consent of the council of the same, and on the approval of the Superintendent General, obtain loans from the capital at the credit of the band, in the hands of the Government, for the purpose of erecting dwelling-houses, barns or other buildings, or placing the same in proper repair - for improvements to the farm, or for the purpose of purchasing useful stock or farming implements - the loans being repaid by the retention by the department of the annual interest moneys which otherwise would be paid to the borrowers. As a further safeguard for the repayment of the loan, the Indian council takes a lien upon the man's property, which, in the event of default, may be sold to another member of the band thus is prevented that, aimless expenditure, which too often takes place, of small sums received in the shape of interest moneys. The plan, where introduced, in so far as reports life been received, has been found to work well, and the non-dependence upon the regularly paid small annuities has stimulated the Indian to rely much more upon his energies; consequently his condition is improved. In a great measure this goes to prove what has been before contended, that the payment to Indians of annuities has a deteriorating effect, and the sooner it is found possible honourably to discard tile system the better will it be for the Indians generality; but, as you have advised me, you are giving this important question further consideration.
Settlement of Old Claims. - During the past year several important claims of bands in different parts of the country, and which have been sources of discontent with the Indians for years past, have either been settled or placed in such a position that a settlement is in view.
The Government of the late province of Canada, owing to the discovery of valuable minerals on the north shores of Lakes Huron and Superior, was, through the efforts of the late Hon. Wm. B. Robinson, enabled to enter into treaties (known as the Robinson-Huron treaties) with the bands claiming those sections of the country as their hunting grounds. One thousand two hundred and forty Indians were interested in the Lake Superior section, and one thousand four hundred and twenty-seven in the Lake Huron portion of the country; the agreement being that a fixed sum should at the time be paid, and a certain amount be annually distributed among the Indians; further, that if in the future the territory surrendered should produce, without any loss to the Govern-