Document - Lord Selkirk’s Treaty with the Indians, July 18, 1817

Manitoba Pageant, Winter 1976, Volume 21, Number 2

This article was published originally in Manitoba Pageant by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make this online version available as a free, public service. As an historical document, the article may contain language and views that are no longer in common use and may be culturally sensitive in nature.

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On 17 July 1817, Lord Selkirk wrote to Hon. W. B. Coltman, “You are aware that one of the allegations which have been made in vindication of the North West Company, is that the outrages committed here have risen from the jealousy of the native Indians against agricultural settlements, and their resentment against my settlers, for having possession of their lands without their consent or any purchase from them. I believe you have already heard enough to be satisfied how little foundation there is for any such idea. But it would be still more satisfactory if the sentiments of the Indians on that point were explicitly and formally declared in your presence, and still more so if they would consent to a specific cession of a portion of their lands to be set aside for the express purpose of agricultural settlements.

With a view to obviate misrepresentation and to show in a more decided manner their sense of the benefits likely to arise from agricultural establishments, I would propose to them, not a sale but a gift. If a large quantity of goods were offered for the purchase, it might be said, that the temptation of immediate advantage had induced them to sacrifice their permanent interests. I would therefore propose to them, merely a small annual present, in the nature of a quit rent, or acknowledgment of their right, and having specified what I intend to give in this way I would leave it to themselves to specify the boundaries of the lands, which they might agree to give up on that consideration, and to appropriate to country. But at all events the trans-action would seem to facilitate the settlement of the country under Crown grants, in the event of my title being found defective.”

On 18 July 1817, Lord Selkirk signed the following treaty with the Indian Chiefs at Red River.

The Selkirk Treaty

THIS INDENTURE, made on the eighteenth day of July, in the fifty-seventh year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King George the Third, and in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and seventeen, between the undersigned Chiefs and warriors of the Chippeway or Saulteaux Nation and of the Killistine or Cree Nation, on the one part, and the Right Honourable Thomas Earl of Selkirk, on the other part:

Witnesseth that for and in consideration of the annual present or quit rent hereinafter mentioned, the said Chiefs have given, granted and confirmed, and do, by these presents, give, grant and confirm unto our Sovereign Lord the King all that tract of land adjacent to Red River and Ossiniboyne River, beginning at the mouth of Red River and extending along same as far as Great Forks at the mouth of Red Lake River, and along Ossiniboyne River, otherwise called Riviere des Champignons, and extending to the distance of six miles from Fort Douglas on every side, and likewise from Fort Daer, and also from the Great Forks and in other parts extending in breadth to the distance of two English statute miles back from the banks of the said rivers, on each side, together with all the appurtenances whatsoever of the said tract of land, to have and to hold forever the said tract of land and appurtenances to the use of the said Earl of Selkirk, and of the settlers being established thereon, with the consent and permission of our Sovereign Lord the King, or of the said Earl of Selkirk. Provided always, and these presents are under the express condition that the said Earl, his heirs and successors, or their agents, shall annually pay to the Chiefs and warriors and successors, or their agents, shall annually pay to the Chiefs and warriors of the Chippeway or Saulteaux Nation, the present or quit rent consisting of one hundred pounds weight of good and merchantable tobacco, to be delivered on or before the tenth day of October at the forks of Ossiniboyne River—and to the Chiefs and warriors of the Killistine or Cree Nation, a like present or quit rent of one hundred pounds of tobacco, to be delivered to them on or before the said tenth day of October, at Portage de la Prairie, on the banks of Ossiniboyne River. Provided always that the traders hitherto established upon any part of the above-mentioned tract of land shall not be molested in the possession of the lands which they have already cultivated and improved, till His Majesty’s pleasure shall be known.

In witness whereof the Chiefs aforesaid have set their marks, at the Forks of Red River on the day aforesaid.

(Signed) SELKIRK.

His x mark
Le Sonnant.

His x mark
La robe noire.

His x mark
L’Homme Noir.

His x mark

His x mark
Le Premier.

Signed in presence of








Source: E. H. Oliver (editor) The Canadian North-West, Its Early Development and Legislative Records. Ottawa, 1915, pp. 1288, 1289.

Page revised: 23 May 2011