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Idealism Or Ethnocide A Clash O Essay

2649 words - 11 pages

Native history forms an important and distinct part of Canadian society. The history of relations between First Nations peoples of Canada and the European settlers that arrived on this country's shores extends over five centuries. Between 1725 and 1923 treaties were signed between the crown and several of the Indian tribes and nations living in what was to become Canada. Today these treaties are known as historic Indian treaties. From the beginning, treaties have been an important aspect of the relationship between the Crown and Aboriginal people. It is a myth that is perpetuated by many historians that the Canadian government was paternalistic and farsighted when dealing with the Plains ...view middle of the document...

The Canadian Government on the other hand was not just and their principle concern in their relationship with the Cree was to establish control over them. The future goal of the Canadian Government was to open Native land as part of an overall plan to open agricultural potential of the West, procure land for the railway and bind the prairies commercially and economically to Canada. As long as the plains Indians remained strong and capable of defending their rights and their land , they would be of concern to the imperialistic ideals of Ottawa and London . However the reality of the situation in 1871 was that Canada did not have a plan to deal with Indians and the negotiations of treaties was not at the initiative of the Canadian Government but of Indian chiefs in the period between 1872 and 1875. The Cree were disposed to show the Canadian government that they were seriously intent on protecting their territory. To show their intent the Cree interfered with geological surveys and prevented the construction of telegraph lines that were to be built on their territory. The Cree hoped that this would send a message to the Canadian government, making it clear that in order to deal with Cree lands Canada had to deal with the Cree first . The Cree also made it clear that part of any agreement made with the Cree must involve the assistance to the Cree in developing a new agricultural way of life . The brutal reality of the situation in which confronted the Plains Indians was that by the 1870's over hunting had reduced the buffalo , the foundation of the plains economy . The strength of the Indians depended on the abundant supply of food on the prairies , and it was the buffalo that provided most of peoples needs . The skins were used for clothing , teepees, food ( it was a great source of protein ) , fuel , harness , rope , thread , bedding , cooking utensils , and sleds were made from the bones . Very little of the animal was wasted . Native life revolved around the shaggy buffalo . It was the same all over the western plains in the seventies . Business , tragedy and history could all be traced to the buffalo . When the railroad was completed in 1885 the buffalo was virtually extinct . Expansion was one response to the threat posed by the enormous decline of buffalo herds ; another was that some plains Cree bands had decided to turn to agriculture as a means to guarantee preservation of the buffalo hunting culture as long as possible . The Natives agreed to treaties because they feared the changes that were taking place and wanted some security for their future well being which was being threatened by the disappearance of the buffalo as by the influx of settlers . By the time the treaties of 1870's were made and well before , aboriginal people were anxious to explore agriculture as an alternate economy when they began to realize that the buffalo were failing them . It would not be government negotiators but the aboriginal spokesman who...

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