His Excellency the Governor General may rest assured that I shall, in every way in my power aid the Commissioners in conducting the important and difficult negotiations intrusted to their management.
I had previously received, enclosed in an envelope addressed to me by Mr. Meredith, a letter for Mr. Pether, which I have forwarded to that gentleman by an Indian of the neighborhood of Fort Francis, who is returning to his home.
Yesterday the messenger, whom I had sent to the Lake of the Woods Indians, with letters informing them of the intentions of the Government as to the treaty with them, and warning them not to come here, returned bringing me a report that the Indians were gratified to receive the letters, and would await patiently the arrival of the Commissioners.I have the honor to be, Sir,
The Secretary of State
for the Provinces,
SIR, - We have the honor to inform you that we have had repeated interviews with the Saulteaux tribe of the Ojibeway Indians, at Shebandowan Lake, and at this place.
The Indians, in anticipation of negotiations being entered into with them, had collected in larger numbers than usual, and we had, in consequence, a favorable opportunity of explaining the intentions of the Government as to obtaining a surrender of their Territorial rights. They preferred claims in regard to promises which had heretofore been made to them, for "right of way" through their country. These we admitted to a limited extent, and have made them presents in provisions and clothing; we are also to pay them a small amount in money, and it is fully and distinctly understood, by the Indians, that these presents and payments are accepted by them as an equivalent for all past claims whatever.
The Government is thus, at the present moment, clear of any Indian claim for the past, in the section of country intervening between the Height of Land and the Lake of the Woods.
A deputation of Indians from Lac Seul has also met us here, and through it, we have informed the Indians of that section that, they will be parties to the treaties to be entered into, and partake in their advantages.
Various causes have prevented us from entering into a formal and permanent arrangement with the Indians at present.
In the first place, it was necessary that they should be afforded time in which to deliberate calmly on the various points to be embraced in a Treaty; and, in order that they might be informed as to what would be expected of them, we have explained to them fully the views of the Government, stating that they would be called upon to surrender their Territorial rights; that reserves of land would be set aside for them, and annual payments made.
In the next place, a disease very like scarlatina had broken out among those of them who had assembled here, and there was an immediate necessity for their separating, which they have already to some extent done, to prevent the spread of the disease. Three deaths