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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1863

Northern superintendency,   pp. 427-434 PDF (3.8 MB)

Page 428

428                 NORTHERN SUPERINTENDENCY. 
Saint Paul, was selected as the most convenient rendezvous for the contracting
parties, as it was nearly equidistant between the Red Lake and Pembina In-
dians, and some time before I left Saint Paul messengers had been despatched
to notify the chiefs and principal men of those Indians- to meet the commissioners
at this point. Accordingly the Red Lake Indians were already encamped on
ground, this unexpected punctuality being doubtless due to the personal super-
vision of my associate, Mr. Morrill, who had accompanied them from Red Lake,
and who was now awaiting my'arrival. 
The Pembina Indians, however, had not yet arrived, and it was determined
to postpone the opening of negotiations till they came in, as I deemed it
ant, for obvious reasons of policy and convenience, to unite both communities
in one treaty, and to avoid, if possible, the separate negotiations to which
it was 
found they were inclined. 
. On the next day, Tuesday, the Pembina Indians arrived in greater numbers
than had been anticipated, bringing in their train as parties to the business
hand nearly all the half-breed population of Pembina and Saint Jfoseph, whose
attendance was not expected or desired at all. I had explicitly instructed
messengers sent to summon the Indians to the rendezvous, that I desired the
attendance only of their chiefs and principal men-though it was hardly ex-
pected this injunction would prevent the Indians bringing their families.
By an enumeration carefully taken on the 28th day of September, as a basis
for the distribution of provisions, there were found to be present as the
guests of 
'the government-men, women, and children-of the Red Lake bands, 579 In- 
dians, 24 half-breeds; and of the Pembina bands, 352 Indians, and 663 half-
breeds, or 1,618 Indians and half-breeds in all-not more than a hundred of
whom at furthest would strictly come within the actual terms of my invitation.
It will be seen that nearly two-thirds of the whole Pembina delegation were
half-breeds, who came unbidden under color of their relationship to the Indians,
to billet themselves upon the hospitality of the government, and probably
appropriate the lion's share of whatever presents or provisions might fall
to the 
lot of their Indian friends. The messenger or agent who had been authorized
to furiiish subsistence for the Pembina Indians on their wa.y to the treaty
ground gave as his excuse for bringing so large a number of uninvited guests
that the Pembina Indians are completely under the control of their half-breed
relatives, and could not have been induced to come unless accompanied by
latter, who have long been accustomed to consider themselves, to a certain
tent, the real owners of the soil, $and as having even a greater interest
in any 
treaty for its purchase than its far less numerous or powerful aboriginal
It was now too late, as it would obviously have been impolitic at this juncture
to have disputed this pretensioi; and it became necessary, therefore, to
them with subsistence. from our inadequate stores, hoping, by an expeditious
despatch of business, to accomplish the objects in view before exhausting
stock of provisions, which, of course, could not have been replenished at
distance from the source of supply. Another powerful motive for hastening,
the negotiations. to as rapid a conclusion as possible was the lateness of
season, the heavy frosts which were unusually early and severe, even for
northern latitude, having already nearly destroyed the grass on Which the
animals of our cavalry escort and, supply train depended mainly for forage.
:Fortunately the Indians themselves were equally anxious to return home in
time to prepare for the coming winter, and they evinced as much disposition
press the business before them to a speedy conclusion as could reasonably
been expected, considering the laggardness, timidity, and indecision which
ordinarily characterize their deliherations. 
Accordingly, on Wednesday, the third day after my arrival, we held our first
general council, a report of which, as of all subsequent proceedings, carefully
p~repared" by the secretary of the commission, will be found in= the

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