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Under Order-in-Council, P.C. 1114, 12 May, 1908, the Commissioner who had been appointed to take adhesions to Treaty 5 was also authorized "... to investigate, in accordance with instructions to be given him such claims for half-breed scrip as may be preferred before him, and report upon such claims to the Minister [of the Interior]...". The treaty adhesion, which was signed at Split Lake on 26th June, 1908, was to include the tract of land lying north of the original Treaty 5 boundary and east of Treaty 10. Four years later, in 1912, the region would be added to the borders of the Province of Manitoba. The Commissioner named in the Order-in-Council was John Semmens, an Inspector of Indian Agencies and Reserves from Stonewall, Manitoba.
Owing to the remoteness of the region, Semmens could only complete the treaty adhesions and his investigations into Métis scrip over a period of three successive summers, from 1908 to 1910. The claimants from all three trips were indexed together by departmental officials along with the claims taken by Thomas A. Borthwick under Treaty 10. This register is now retained as RG 15, volume 1516 (see description elsewhere). Although two Commissions are listed together in the same register, Semmens' entries are clearly distinguished from those taken by Borthwick. As well, Semmens' entries are indexed according to the year in which they were accepted.
Regrettably, all other records associated with the Treaty 5 Adhesion Commission are now interfiled with other records of the Department, and this register is now the only concise listing of all applicants considered by the Department under Order-in-Council, P.C. 1114, 12 May, 1908.
During his first trip, Semmens reportedly took evidence in support of some 200 Métis claims. These claims were later dealt with by the Minister of the Interior under a separate Order-in-Council, P.C. 1060, 29 May, 1909, on the following basis: "Half-breeds born in the territory covered by the adhesion to Treaty No. 5 who were residents therein on the date of the signing ... at Split Lake; Half-breeds born in the territory covered by the adhesion to Treaty No. 5 who were residents in territory previously ceded on the date of the signing ... at Split Lake; Half-breed residents in the territory covered by the said adhesion to Treaty No. 5 on the date of the signing of such adhesion at Split Lake, but who were not born in that territory; ..." providing, of course, the recipient's rights were not extinguished under an earlier issue of scrip (P.C. 1060, 29 May, 1909).
Apparently, among the applicants received by Semmens were some claims which did not come within the scope of the claims referred to above, and Order-in-Council, P.C. 1060, 29 May, 1909, also authorized the Minister of the Interior "... to deal with them in the same manner as claims belonging to the same class were dealt with in the past and to issue scrip in accordance with the regulations which governed the former issues of scrip ...".
Additional applicants accepted by Semmens during his trips through the region in 1909 and 1910 were adjudicated by the Minister of the Interior under a second Order-in-Council, P.C. 1193, 24 May, 1911. The latter allowed the Minister to consider the additional claims on the same terms and conditions as were those referred to him by P.C. 1060, 29 May, 1909. The scrip issued in both instances by the Minister was delivered personally to the grantees either by Commissioner Semmens himself on one of his return trips into the region, by a Dominion Lands Agent, by the local Indian Agent, or by the local Royal North-West Mounted Police officer.
Orders-in-Council, P.C. 1114, 12 May, 1908; P.C. 1060, 29 May, 1909; P.C. 1193, 24 May, 1911.
J. Semmens (P.C. 1114, 12 May, 1908)
RG 15, series D II 1, vol. 1016, file 1,578,625, parts 1 and 2, title: "Joseph H. Lowes, Oxford House, re. Indian selling their scrip, John Semmens Commissioner, "
Split Lake, Fort Churchill, York Factory, Nelson House, Oxford House, God's Lake, and Island Lake.
In 1908 a total of 31 claims were collected with 7,440 acres in land scrip awarded. In 1910 a further 86 claims were allowed with 18,480 acres in land scrip and $2,160 in money scrip awarded.