Treaty Promises, Indian Reality: Life on a Reserve

2005, 160 pp
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The federal government promised to care for the Indians in perpetuity and in return, the nomadic Indians would sign treaties, settle on reserves, and learn to be farmers. Many Indians, including those led by Chief Cowessess, camped and hunted in the Cypress Hills where there was plenty of game, water and wood. Forced out of the Hills by the government and driven by hunger to a reserve in the Qu'Appelle Valley, Cowessess and his people were successful farmers, but they had little control over what was supposed to be their land.

The story of life on reserves after treaty is a story of power: the power of Indian Affairs. Indian agents controlled every aspect of life on and off reserve - the dreaded pass system and permission slips needed to sell farm produce, or not as it suited the agents; the instructors whose job it was to transform Indian hunters into farmers; the residential school system; and the surrender of reserve land.

This is a story of triumph over adversity and oppression. In this very personal account of life on an Indian reserve and in residential schools, Harold LeRat, with the assistance of writer LInda Ungar, relates the history of the Cowessess people based on stories told by elders, research he did in connection with the land surrender, and his own personal recollections.
ExpressionGeneral Writing/Recording
PublisherPurich Publishing

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