What is Treaty Four?

Bert Fox Composite High School
Fort Qu’ Appelle, Saskatchewan

By Juandell (Grade 12)

Treaty Four happens every year in the Qu'Appelle Valley, at Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, during the second week of September. This is a celebration to recognise, discuss and evaluate Treaty Number 4 which was signed on September 15, 1874 at Fort Qu'Appelle by the British crown and the Indian Nations of the area.

This week is full of festive events, both day and night. The chiefs from all the Indian bands who signed Treaty Four attend the event. There were thirteen original bands and since then, twenty more have come under the jurisdiction of Treaty Four. Many school groups and people from outside the district come and enjoy, to listen and to learn more about Treaty Four issues from the past and present, and to discuss issues resulting from the treaties signed many years ago.

During the daylight hours, Treaty Four hosts meetings amongst chiefs of both the Treaty Four area and chiefs from the Touchwood File Hills district. These chiefs talk about the flaws and how to mend the injustices resulting from the treaties. Questions and ideas are presented and discussed and are open to the general public. The annual annuity payments are also dispensed at Treaty Four. Sometimes this takes place in the local arena, and in recent years, it has taken place in teepees set up on reserve land within the town limits of Fort Qu'Appelle. Representation from the British Crown and the RCMP add a historical flavour to the process.

At the treaty grounds and outside the arena, many traditional teepees are set up. Throughout the morning and afternoon, traditional stories, string games, dancing and many other activities take place. This is where many school groups come and experience part of the Indian culture and heritage. Tanning of hides and smoking of meat is a common sight. It is a good way for the Indian children to learn about their traditional ways.

At night-time, the festivities really happen. Every night the arena hosts different cultural events. There are round dances, dry dances, and concerts featuring renowned First Nations people such as Buffie Ste. Marie, Winston Wuttanee, and other Saskatchewan born performers. Fashion shows are held that include local businesses and native designer products. The talents of many Native people are shared and promoted at these events.

The traditional powwow occurs during the final weekend of the Treaty Four. Native dancers from across the prairies and from as far away as British Columbia come to attend this two day gathering. Beautiful dancing happens and it is a very significant social and cultural event. This is the most beautiful, colourful and exciting time during the Treaty Four. Many people from our community come out and support the Treaty Four Gathering by watching this spectacular event that features traditional, grass, fancy and jingle dancing.

This annual event brings people together both culturally and socially every fall. This is a major event which makes the entire community stronger. In September, the powwow trail leads to Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan.

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