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Completing the Design, Treaty Making
numbered treaties, Mounties, indigenous nations, Yukon territories, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
In 1873 Canada created the North-West Mounted Police, now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or Mounties, to help administer the territories and keep order there. Treaties were negotiated with the indigenous nations with the intention of opening the Great Plains to agriculture. Eleven numbered treaties were signed with the indigenous nations across Canada between 1850 and 1929, opening their lands to occupation. In general, the treaties provided some material compensation for transfer of lands to Euro-Canadians and provided for the establishment of reserves across the country. However, there were lapses in coverage: In British Columbia, treaties covered only a few small places, while in the Northwest and Yukon territories, treaties were not signed at all.
The once nomadic peoples of the plains were crowded into reserves. The reserve lands were allotted by headcount. The government typically was to provide schools, farm tools and agricultural assistance, and fishing and hunting rights as these had previously been enjoyed. Governments intent on assimilating the indigenous peoples honored few of these commitments. In some areas, for instance, the reserves were smaller than promised or were never provided at all. By 1901 Canada’s indigenous peoples numbered about 100,000, barely 2 percent of the country’s population, and they were confined to reserves everywhere outside the far north.
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