Chapter 2. “I have the honour to be Sir, your obedient Servant”

Chapter 2. “I have the honour to be Sir, your obedient Servant”
“ I believe it is sufficient for me to say anything more as the Department is well aware what it is to have dealings with Indians”
Indian Agent John Davidson 1887


The history of the Department of Indian Affairs begins in the late seventeenth century when commissioners were appointed by British official in the thirteen colonies to regulate the fur trade. The commissioners were military lieutenants and the office which they reported to was that of the highest British military commander in North America. The commissioners maintained relations with the First Nations by distributing gifts and ensuring the settlers did not encroach on the natives’ lands. The Natives were seen as potential military allies to the British for the Seven Years Wars and up until the War of 1812, and the commissioners had an important role in establishing and maintaining the relationship, insuring that the natives remain allies with the British.[1] A significant feature of these eras of diplomacy, trade and military alliances, left the Haudenosaunee and other nations believing that the English considered them as sovereign political entities; an understanding that is present throughout the petitions written by the Haudenosaunee in the centuries that followed.

The truce of the War of 1812 significantly altered the British relations to the Haudenosaunee, who were no longer needed as military allies, and were now instead seen as liability. By the 1820s the British changed their approach towards the First Nations, who were now seen as colonial subjects to be “encouraged in every possible manner the progress of religious knowledge and education”.[2] Thus, begun campaigns of civilization, acculturation and the integration of natives to the settler society. The mission of “civilizing the Indian” and eventually somewhat integrating them into the broader settler public informed the policies created by the Canadian government for the next two centuries. At the heart of this civilizing mission was the goal of eventually eliminating First Nations peoples all together. As famously stated by Duncan Campbell Scott, the Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1932; “the government will in time reach the end of its responsibility as the Indians progress into civilization and finally disappear as a separate and distinct people, not by race extinction but by gradual assimilation with their fellow-citizens”.[3] This responsibility was divided between Christian and Catholic missionaries and Department commissioners, who would eventually become known as Indian agents.

         In 1830 the Indian Department was split into two offices, one station in Upper Canada and the second in Lower Canada, which remained under military command. It is during this time in which the reserve system was established in Upper Canada. After Confederation, Department of Indian Affairs developed into a highly centralized administrative body, a process that included the continuous integration of policies, laws, and administrative systems. This era of state administrative and bureaucratic formation was in tandem with the development of the professionalization of officials such as clerks, agents and other bureaucratic and administrative workers.  The administrational system built to manage and survey First Nations peoples in Canada was solidified by the 1867 British North American Act, which gave the federal government exclusive authority over “Indians and lands reserved for Indians”.[4] In 1874 Lieutenant Lawrence Vankoughnet, who was an aspiring bureaucrat with family connection to John A. Macdonald, was appointed Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs and the Department became its own administrative branch. The following year Indian Boards were abolished, and the system of superintendents and agents were established, which stationed Indian Agents in reserves across the Dominion. Legislations and policies regarding Indian administration was reenforced in the 1876 Indian Act, which was an amalgamation of an existing policies regarding Indian supervision.

         The Indian Act of 1876 aimed to strip First Nations people of any sovereign power they might have had, and automatically categorized them as Indians and wards of the Canadian State The Act dealt with three main areas of concerns: lands, membership and government, with an emphasis on enfranchisement of the Indians and their eventual integration into white society.[5] The Act defined the term “Indian” as any male person of Indian blood which belongs to a particular band, a child of any such person or a woman who is or was lawfully married to such as person. The Act defined an Indian according to blood or marriage and simultaneously crafted the band membership as a central criteria for Indian status, it also defined several conditions in which an Indian may be stripped of his or hers status, such as by residing away from the reserve, or marrying non-Indians.[6] Enfranchisement was another way in which a status Indian may be stripped of their status and be granted the right to vote, hold property or exercise other rights of citizenship. Other clauses of the Act include the issuing of location tickets for individuals lands in the reserve, penalties and offences committed by trespassers onto the reserve, and compensation for expropriation of Indian lands by public works such as railroads or roads. Approximately twenty clauses are dedicated to the sales and management of Indian lands, and other resources, and the management and investments of band funds by government agents.

         Clauses sixty-one to sixty-three reinstated regulations regarding elections and local government, which were originally implemented in the Enfranchisement Act of 1869. Sections ten to twelve of the Act stated that the “Governor may order that the chiefs of any tribe, band or body of Indians shall be elected by the male members of each Indian Settlement of the full age of twenty-on years”…”and they shall in such case be elected for a period of three years, unless deposed by the Governor”.[7] The Indian Act brought little change into the local government system of elective chiefs which the Enfranchisement Act imposed. The aim of creating a local elective government was to accelerate the assimilation process, as well as impose a governing body that would adhere and answer to the DIA. The electoral system was imposed to ensure that the Government of Canada can exercise power over the band and supersede the traditional government. The elected Chiefs were required to answer to the agents stationed in their reserves as a form of middlemen between the band and the agent who represented the Canadian government. While the Enfranchisement Act predated the Indian Act, the election of chiefs only begun to take place in St. Regis in the late 1870’s, and by 1880 the elections had begun to transform inter-community relations. The elections caused a variety of issues within the community, specifically the divide between those who respected the hereditary system, and those who wanted elections. However, the elections would eventually become a cause for the unity and resistance of the community against the Federal government, contributing to a wider movement of pan-Indianism that was developing throughout North America.

Ottawa and Its Agents


By 1880 nearly every aspect of the lives of the residents of St. Regis was dictated, controlled and surveyed by the Department of Indian Affairs through the work and the operation of the agents stationed at the reserve. The agents’ job was to operate the reserve through directions given by their administrative superiors in Ottawa, who they would correspond with on daily basis through letters that were numerically coded.[8] The department was organized into two distinct sectors; an inside service and outside service.[9] Headquartered in Ottawa, the inside service was the administrative office in which higher position personnel were located and where all administrative decisions were made. According to Brian Titley in a study of the Department in his book A Narrow Vision: Duncan Campbell Scott and the Administration of Indian Affairs in Canada, by 1880 the Department office in Ottawa had less than 40 employees: the Deputy Superintendent General, a chief clerk, an accountant, clerical staff and a number of messengers and unskilled personnel who were mostly engaged in administrative tasks such as copying letters.[10] The outside services amounted to over 400 employees who were for the most part agents stationed in reserves. Letters written by the agents were sent to Ottawa to be read by the Superintendent General and his close staff, who would instruct the agents on every single decision and actions that the agents were to take. This administrative system was highly hierarchical, and attaining a job at the department in Ottawa, or even as an Indian agent, was based on political connection and favouritism.[11] Working for the department was seen as a prestige position that would attract men who had a strong incentive to climb up the political and bureaucratic ladder of government positions, a pattern clearly exhibited by at least one agent stationed in St. Regis.

The agents were required to write daily letters to Ottawa and to copy their letters in letterbooks, which were the mass majority of my primary sources. The letters from the agents were polite, respectful and their correspondence exhibits a culture of strict administrative hierarchy that can be mostly characterized by subordination and militaristic courtesy.  According to Titley, Superintendent General Vankoughnet, who headed the department from 1874, until he was forced to retire in 1893, was “an inflexible bureaucrat who attempted to centralize all decision-making in his own hands”[12] while keeping expense at a minimum, especially for matters regarding the well-being of the reserves such as food rations or school upkeeping. Aside from the daily letters, the agents were required to provide annual reports about the reserves in which they were stationed. The annual reports included a comprehensive account of the reserve from its demographic patterns to economic occupation, criminal behaviour (mostly regarding liquor) and school attendance. The reports grew increasingly detailed throughout the twenty year period I examined, and by the early 1900s they entailed exhaustive statistics about the reserves, from the number of deaths, baptisms and marriages, to a calculative survey of farming tools, cattle, grain cultivation and the total sales of other resources such as timber or sand.

The agents could negotiate a salary and received an annual sum somewhere between $150 to $200.[13] They were also entitled to a 10% commission of all the land sales and leases they managed on the reserve lands. The lands surrounding individual lots distributed to the community, were rented out to settlers for habitation and farming. Rent leases were collected on a monthly and annual basis by the agent, depending on the contract of each lot or land. The leasing contracts drastically differed, they could be 999 years lease, 99 or less, and the rent payments were collected on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis depending on the contract.[14] A vast part of the agent’s job was to collect the rent and create contracts, which they would record in the letterbooks and send to Ottawa for record keeping. It is unclear to me from the information in the letterbooks if the money was sent to Ottawa or kept at the office of the agent, or a nearby bank.

The commissions they received drastically increased their salaries,[15] and were in my opinion, an incentive for the agents to sell and lease as much reserve land as they could, regardless of the disapproval or consent of the band.[16][17] The agents often wrote about their desire for higher pay and were highly attentive with their commission payments, an issue that caused disputes between the agents, especially while in transition from one agent to another. For example, in a letter written in November 1884 by the newly appointed Agent Robert Tyre, he claims that his predecessor Agent John Davidson had in his possession the accounting books. Tyre writes: “He [Davidson] kept the book for 12 days longer, than I sent a person for the books and M. Davidson was very much annoyed at my sending for them”. Tyre goes on to complain about Davidson, accusing him of intending to “secure all the rents so that I should have very little commissions for my share next year.”[18] 

The agents’ job was dynamic and demanding. They lived in the reserve or nearby it and primarily they were the accountants responsible for the Band funds, which were considerable amounts of money that belong to the band through sales of land and other incomes. They were also responsible for the distribution of annual annuity paid by the government to members of the band. The agents were expected to record all financial dealings and contracts and keep a detailed record of the account. This fund was strictly controlled by their superiors in Ottawa, in which they had to request any large or small sum which was taken from the fund. As trustees of the Band Fund the agents were also responsible for the distribution of money of the members of the band, the schools and the schoolteachers’ salaries, access to food rations and other distribution of goods and the overall expenses of anything relating to the reserves, from fixing the churches to building roads. They were the reserve mediators for disputes between members, and administrated and managed healthcare related issues like vaccination, restock on medicinal supplies, schedule doctor appointments, as well as run band councils’ meetings and implement elections.

The agents were by no means passive and impartial mediators representing Government interest. They were given authority to exercise power over the band in numerous ways in which they used excessively. They were hardly biased or impartial, often expressive of their opinions about the band’s decisions or their thoughts concerning members of the band they saw as agitators, or others which they may have favoured. According to the Indian Act the agents were free to impose the government’s authority in a variety of ways, not only through the restraining of the band’s funds. They were given the right to dispose of members of the band and acted as justices of the peace free to arrest and charge any band member who acted against provisions set by the Indian Act and the Criminal Code. According to historian Robin Jarvis Brownlie, in her staggering work on Indian agents stationed in Manitoulin Island and Parry Sound agencies in the interwar period, in her book A Fatherly Eye, Brownie states that “for minor offences (most often for alcohol consumption) the agent frequently laid the charges himself, investigated them, examined the evidence, pronounced the verdict, and, if applicable assigned a penalty”.[19] The agents of St. Regis indeed used this power at numerous opportunities, especially in regard to men who they disapproved of, who they often accused for liquor consumption, liquor sales or other adverse behaviours. Throughout the twenty-year period of which my researched was focused, the agents increasingly grew involved in local disputes and by the time Agent George Long was positioned as agent of the reserve, he had also admitted two members to nearby insane asylums and penitentiaries, by requesting them to be clinically diagnosed as insane by a doctor.[20] Thus, by the turn of the twentieth century their roles had developed into that of an accountant, policeman, social worker, school director and administrative authority of the reserve.



Agent Davidson


         John Davidson was stationed at the St. Regis agency from 1876 to 1884, when he was removed from office. Davidson lived near the township of Dundee, on the American side of the border in a small town called Fort Covington. He was a somewhat disorganized accountant, and his book keepings were messy and sometimes written on the margins of his letters. His relations with the band was unfriendly to say the least, and at times even hostile. Davidson was unfamiliar with the community and in a letter to his superiors regarding an election held, he writes “I could not distinguish one from another” complaining that they all have similar names and that they all look the same.[21] He was absent from the reserve, and instead stationed his office in the town some fifteen kilometers away from the St. Regis village. His location was problematic for the band who were frustrated by his absence. In a petition asking to have him removed from his post as the reserve agent, the members of the band claimed that “Davidson does not attend properly to our business” and that he lives too far from the village, and that he is “occupied with other matters” and that he does not care about the well-being of the band.[22] This petition, written in 1879 and signed by over 130 members of the band, was investigated by the Department, who seem to have considered removing Davidson from his post. In a correspondence defending his claim, Davidson expresses his frustration towards “the Indians”, and makes his opinion of them clear. Davidson did not get along with the community and was often in disagreement with them over matters relating to sales and leases of lands, consumption of alcohol and other issues such as vaccination. In several of his letters to Ottawa, Davidson complains about “St. Regis being too problematic to manage” and in other letters he shows his distaste of the Indigenous people, writing to his supervisor Davidson claims “I suppose it is superfluous for me to say anything more as the Department is well aware what it is to have dealings with the Indians”.[23]

         In September 1884 Davidson was removed from his post and a new agent, Robert Tyre, was stationed at St. Regis. The reason for the dismissal of Davidson is not entirely clear, however, corresponding between Tyre and Davidson reveals an issue concerning the booking keeping of the band, and Tyre accusing Davidson of stealing money. The following days Tyre wrote to his supervisor complaining that Davidson has stolen his commissions by collecting them days before his dismissal. While Davidson was removed from his post, he appears several times in the agents correspondence throughout the next ten or so years, appearing once after Tyre’s funeral as a temporary agent, and then in the late 1880s as the Treasurer of Dundee, making arrangement over sales of lands with Agent George Long. Davidson’s career did not end at his position as agent, but flourished in the nearby town.


Robert Tyre, Baker & George Long.


         Agent Robert Tyre was stationed to replace Davidson in 1884, however he fell ill and passed away in October 1886. While alive and stationed as agent he was in constant disputes with the band, and after falling ill, his wife took over his letter writings and worked on his behalf. Tyre was replaced temporarily by a man named D. Baker who seemed to be untrained personnel and a settler who lived in one of the nearby towns. The administration sent him a training pamphlet titled “The Facts Respecting Indian Administration in the North-West Territories”[24] with the aim of training him in his new position. Baker had the least trouble with the band, and in his several months in office he remained uninvolved with their activities, especially after Chief Lazar tells him that “we can manage our own affairs”. [25]

         George Long was the agent of the St. Regis agency from 1887 to 1911, making him the longest lasting agent at the reserve. He was a meticulous, organized and dedicated worker, and it is not surprising that he remained in his post for over two decades. His handwriting was clear and his grammar on point, his letterbooks ordered and methodological, his accountings tedious and his math was always correct. Long was a dedicated civil worker who took his job seriously and sincerely believed in the civilizing mission of First Nations peoples. In a letter to his supervisor pleading his dedication to the cause he writes “I would be sorry to be in any way an obstruction in the advancement of the Indians and if you consider it so I am willing to give up the agency”.[26] He wrote long and articulated annual reports with increasing detail each year; from counting the number of children attending schools and detailed surveys he conducted of the reserve. Long wrote and signed countless contracts for lease and land sales, drew maps of the reserve, and during his decades as Agent more land was sold and leased than all other agents combined. Long profited greatly from his management of the reserve lands, and in numerous occasions made leasing deals with renters, that were not consented by the band. In other times he tried to manipulate the band council to agree on renting lands, which he claimed would be beneficial for them.

         Agent Long lived in the village of St. Regis and was attentive to all that was happening in the reserve. He often called for band council meetings (many in which hardly anyone attended) and was highly involved in the political and governing bodies of the band, and openly expressed his favouritism towards certain members and distain for others, especially regarding the chiefs, who he would dispose of easily if they objected to him. Long took on a paternalistic attitude towards the natives and over the years his relationship with the community grew increasingly hostile. He saw the Kanien’kehá:ka of St. Regis as people who needed to be managed and policed. For example, in a letter regarding an election on November 10, 1891, Long writes “I think it was a step in the right way a check on the liquor purity to show them, that they cannot do as they pleased”. He was the first agent to call constables to be present in the reserve and once demanded over 20 policemen in full uniform to aid him supervise an election. Long was less lenient on the spending of the band’s fund and was frugal distributing money to the chiefs for various requests they may have had, such as fixing the school, or helping the destitute. Two schools closed during his years as an agent, and vaccination of the members of the band, especially children, increased during his time.[27]


Elections at St Regis.


The elections in St. Regis typically took place during the summer, when the majority of the community was living on the reserve. While the Indian Act imposed a law on an election of chiefs every three years, in St. Regis this was typically not the case, especially under the supervision of Agent Long. The Indian Act enforced that the number of chiefs elected was determined by the population of the band. It states that a chief represents a band of thirty members, or one chief and two second chiefs elected for every two hundred people.[28] The Act then lists eight points in which the elected chiefs were responsible for, that included “the care of public health” maintaining of the construction and repairs of schools, roads and other infrastructure, the “observance of order and decorum” of the general council, and other issues such as cattle trespassing and managing the land registration.[29] In St. Regis the elections were held to elect one head chief and three second chiefs. The elected chiefs were given minimal power regarding the governing of the community, and any governing decision was ultimately made by the agents who had authority over their affairs. The agent could dismiss them from their chiefship, or downright disapprove of any of their motions, from fixing the church, constructing a road or most frequently, regarding the leasing and selling of the reserve lands and islands in the St. Lawrence. The elective chiefs were paid an annual salary of $10 from the band fund, and they were also responsible of holding meeting with the band council.

The Indian Act states that elections of chiefs are held every three years, yet the elections in St. Regis happened nearly every single year between 1883 to 1899, with an exception of the years 1887 to 1890, however 1888 is missing from the letterbooks so I cannot confirm that an election did not occur. This pattern of annual elections, that should be held every three years, presents several important findings. First and foremost, the annual elections pattern in St. Regis reflects on the volatility of the electoral system, and how ultimately it was unsuccessful in the first eras of its implementation in St. Regis. The continuous rotation of chiefs by elections was primarily due to the agents calling for elections, because of their displeasure with certain chiefs in office. The disposal of chiefs by the agents were frequent and reflect a continuous pattern of individual and community tensions with the agents, who exercised authority and power over the community. There are countless examples throughout the twenty-year period of deposition of chiefs, and the agents’ intervention into all matters concerning the community’s governing body.  

         For example, in the spring of 1893 Agent Long advised his superiors in Ottawa of the disposal of Chiefs Loran Pike (who was band clerk previously) and Chief Thomas White “for incompetency”.[30] Both men were a cause of trouble for Long since they were elected as second chiefs in February 1892. The two chiefs were vocal in their displeasure of the local schools and were leaders who organized a community incentive to not send the children to school. They also were inflicted in an issue even more disturbing to Long. The Chiefs had taken upon themselves to collect lease and rent payments, undoubtedly infuriating Long, who expected the commission for himself. Furthermore, the Chiefs objected to the sale of islands belonging to the band and had occupied lands in hope of preventing Long from selling them. In an official document from the Privy Council Office dated May 16, 1893 the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs request the deposition of Pike and White, and the request is passed. The issue that the report details is that the chiefs managed the leasing of land on their own, against the will of the agent.[31]. Following the deposition of Pike and White, Agent Long calls for an election to replace them in July of 1893. This pattern of displeased agents with disobedient chiefs is present with every agent during the twenty-year period and is especially common with Agent Long. While disregarding the agents’ authority and collecting the rents from leasing of lands was a common reason for the agents to dispose of chiefs, there were various instances in which certain chiefs were disposed of for other reasons such as election fraud, harassment against the agent or for disobeying clauses of the Indian Act, which were typically related to liquor selling or consumption of alcohol.  

         While most elections were called by the agents due to their discontent with the chiefs, some elections were also called on by the band, who appealed to the agents or surpassed them by sending petitions directly to Ottawa. There are numerous petitions and requests written by various members of the band, opposing the result of an election or complaining on the behaviour of certain chiefs. In November 1892, a petition was sent to Ottawa signed with 156 names, requesting a new election. Agent Long dismissed the community’s call to hold an election and stated that their displeasure is “nothing more than jealousy”.[32] However, there were also occasions in which the agents listened to the concern of the community and called for new election. The power dynamic and political struggle that the elections caused in the reserve were primarily between two distinct parties; the portion of the community that supported the hereditary chiefs and hereditary system, in dispute with the members of the community who supported the newly imposed governing body of elective chiefs. These oppositions begun to surface in the mid to late 1880s, and there are other disputes that occurred between individuals, rather than opposing collectives. The chiefs were essentially actors in the community that took on leading roles. Many of the chiefs mentioned in the letterbooks were sincerely motivated leaders that took on the responsibilities of taking care of the well-being of the band. Others sought chiefship for the various benefits the role provided, such as the annual salary or a place in the band council.

         Although there were years of relatively undisturbed elections, the overall pattern present in the twenty year period is that the elections became increasingly problematic for the community on a variety of ways, and that the agents frequently intervened in the result; calling a null or fair elections; or by expressing a more preferable outcome to their superiors in Ottawa. The first election I came across, in the year 1883 under the supervision of Agent Davidson, was a fiasco and a great example to how an election result could be steered by the agent. The election took place in the summer of 1883 to replace Chief Mitchel Solomon, and according to Davidson, there were men who had voted twice, and another vote of a man who was not a member of the band. Davidson could not distinguish between the members, and later had realized that he was tricked. Lost in this confusing situation he asks the Department for advice, and days later suggests that the election be voided furthermore suggesting that a man named Peter Jacobs be made head Chief, saying that “he will put order into things”.[33] In 1886 under the supervision of Agent Baker a similar story occurred, in which underage voters and a non-member vote was protested by Mitchel Solomon, who was favored by Baker, who advised Ottawa to call for a re-election.

         The elections took an aggressive turn under the supervision of Agent Long, in which the community begun to mobilize and increasingly object his calls for elections. The first dispute begun in an election in the summer of 1891, when Long claimed that a candidate elected chief John Square, sold and supplied alcohol to a party in the day of the election. Long went on to dispose of Chief John Square, and calls for a re-election in the fall, in which the community was furious about. Certain members refused to vote in the election and were hostile towards Long who writes “the Indians are getting very overbearing and abusive, determined to have their own way. I was told by one of the Indians the morning before the poll opened that it would not be safe for me to go”.[34] Regardless of their intimidations, Agent Long held the election and later claimed in a letter to his supervisor that “as to their threats and complaints, I do not fear!”.[35] Several years later in an election held in July 1894 many people refused to vote and the Life Chiefs and other members of the band signed a petition sent to Ottawa demanding that the elective system be abolished and that instead they plan to practice their own hereditary government based on the Constitution of the Iroquois Government.[36] By 1898 Agent Long writes to Ottawa that he is “anticipating trouble at the next election”, [37]  regardless of the situation Long holds an election in which he is confronted by several men, including a Chief called Jake Fire. Long hosts the election but not a single member votes. Believing that this election was deterred by Chief Fire and others, Long calls for another election a month later, pleating to his superiors to provide him with 20 policemen. For the rest of the year Long called for numerous elections, in which the band refused to vote, finally in March 1899 Agent Long holds an election. He was confronted with over 200 men and women, who eventually push him into the schoolhouse where the polls were stationed, locking him there until 5 p.m. The two constables that joined Long (he was not sent 20 as requested months before) were assaulted by a gang of men, and several men were eventually arrested and sent to the police station in Cornwall.[38]

         The events that occurred in the election of March 1899 were not a coincidence but consequences for years of tensions between Long and the community. The relationship between the band and Agent Long was increasingly hostile since his arrival in 1887. Long asserted his authority over the band in various ways and created a policed environment that infringed on the lives of the habitants of the reserve. His obsession of running elections and controlling the band council was merely one reason of many, of why his relationship with the band was so hostile. Long imposed constables on the reserve, sold much of the band’s lands without consent, and seem to always be in disagreement with the band on one thing or another. The band protested to him continuously however it was through the election in which their resistance to him is most assertive.  While the elections held by Davidson were somewhat problematic, the community voted non the less; however, by 1899 there seem to have been a collective consensus over the elections, and a unity is most definitely present in the reserve. Thus, the 1890s mark a transition in the community in which leadership begins to take shape that units the community against the agent and the government of Canada. The collective and organized resistance that begun to take place in St. Regis is however not isolated and was a movement in tandem with other nations of the Confederacy. This unity and collective resistance within St. Regis and the broader political body of the Confederacy are the topics explored in the next chapter.


[1] Titley, Brian. The Indian Commissioners: Agents of the State and Indian Policy in Canada’s Prairie West, 1873-1932. Page 2.

[2] Titley, Brian. The Indian Commissioners. Page 4.

[3] Brownlie, Robin Jarvis. “A Fatherly Eye: Indian Agents, Government Power, and Aboriginal Resistance in Ontario, 1918-1939”. Page 30.

[4] The management and surveillance over First Nations peoples in Canada begun with the 1860 Management of Indian Lands and Properties Act which created the Indian Department as a branch of Crown lands that were to be administrated by the federal government rather than the provinces. The federal responsibility over First Nations was reinstated in the 1867 British North America Act.

[5] Treaties and Historical Research Centre P/E/R/ Group, Indian and Northern Affairs. The Historical Development of the Indian Act. Kahn Miller and George Lerchs, edited by John Leslie and Ron Maguire. Ottawa: August 1978. Page 51. 

[6] Ibid, 61.

[7] Gradual Enfranchisement Act, 1869 c. 10.

[8] The letters received by the Agents from their superiors were numerically organized, and the agents would refer to the number of the letter when responding. Typically the agents would begin a letter with the following passage: “Sir, I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of this [date] instant no.[letter numbers such as 31916]”. 

[9] Internal and External service was not the known name for the branches, rather a term coined by Titley in A Narrow Vision.

[10] Titley, A Narrow Vision. Page 13

[11] In his study of the Department in Narrow Vision, Titley follows the bureaucratic career of Duncan Campbell Scott who was the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs and a career bureaucrat who climbed the political ladder in Ottawa. Titley follows Scott’s career and shows how he had climbed the political latter through his cunning personality and political connections.

[12] Titley. A Narrow Vision. Page 14.

[13] In a letter written by Agent Long in the spring of 1895, Long asks for a salary raise to $200 a year, plus $35 extra to pay for his coal. (Letterbook 8 page 749)

[14] For examples of leases see: a contract created by Agent Long in 1890 for lot no 13, 14 &15 to Robert Colquhoun for a 99 years lease. LAC, RG10-C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 381 and a letter written by Agent Tyre regarding a 999 year lease contract made in 1796 which was still valid. LAC, RG10-C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 259.   

[15] The annual sum from commissions varied each year, however the agents were prone to make somewhere along $100 on top of their salaries. For example, in 1885 Agent Tyre collected $88.35 for commission up until the 31st of March. LAC, RG10-C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 259. This topic of the commissions the agents received, and the total accounting operation of the reserves is understudied, yet it is an issue so very essential to land claim settlements taking place today. The limitation of a graduate thesis did not allow me to do a thorough examination into the accounting of the reserve, and specifically the agent’s commissions, but I suspect that they made a whole lot of money and had incentive to sell off reserve lands, regardless of the opinion of the band. I believe that studying the history of the sales of reserve lands is incredibly important by highlighting the government’s past and its current obligations to repay for the illegal actions of government agents and operations.  A contract created (without the consent of the St. Regis Band) in 1888 by Agent Long has been the heart of a land claims that was settled in 2020 between the Government of Canada and the Mohawks of Akwesasne. I came across this claim during my research, coming to realize that the year 1888 was entirely missing from the letterbooks.  For more information on the Land Claim see the MCA Settlement Agreement

[16] The agents would do their best to steer the bands opinion regarding the renting or selling of lands, and at times try to manipulate the band council. If the band did not agree to the selling of land, the agent would do their best to convince them otherwise, or lease the lands without the consent of the band. For example, in 1890 Long calls for a band meeting over the leasing of islands and lands near Dundee, the band votes against the sale, and Long writes that he is “doing his best to convince them otherwise”. In a few months, the life Chiefs send a complaint to Ottawa, accusing Long for leasing lands against their will.  LAC, RG10-C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 387, 419.

[17] It is possible that not all agents profited from the sale of Indian lands, and that it is a phenomenon exclusive to particular reserves such as St. Regis, however the lack of research on this particular topic leaves much to uncover as mentioned in footnote 14.

[18] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 239

[19] Brownlie, A Fatherly Eye. 39.

[20] There are two individuals who were sent to an insane asylum. One was a woman by the name of Nancy Skins who was admitted to the St. Jean-de-Dieu Lunatic Asylum in 1889, under the direction of Agent Long. The second was a man John Lafrance who was admitted to jail IN 1886 and later sent to a lunatic asylum by Long in 1887. For the file on Nancy Skins see LAC, RG2 VOL. 550. C-3404 and for the file on John Lafrance see LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 8. Image 357.

[21] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 174

[22] RG10, VOL 2080, FILE 11896

[23] RG10, VOL 2080, FILE 11896

[24] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 331. for Baker acknowledging the training pamphlet, also for the Pamphlet see

[25]  LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 343.

[26] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 8. Image 684.

[27] Vaccinations were a continuous issue throughout the twenty-year period, in which the band refused to get vaccinated for smallpox. This issue was raised numerous times by all agents, who claim that the Chiefs did not allow the band to get vaccinated. In one instance, the Chiefs explain to agent Davidson that they did not need to get vaccinated because they nearly all had already had smallpox, which should immunize them to the disease. The issue of vaccine is fascinating and shows yet another way in which the band refused government interference in their lives and rejected settler culture. It was only by the early 1900s in which Agent Long manages to get vaccination rates up in the reserve, and most of which were children.

[28] Treaties and Historical Research Centre P/E/R/ Group, Indian and Northern Affairs. The Historical Development of the Indian Act. Kahn Miller and George Lerchs, edited by John Leslie and Ron Maguire. Ottawa: August 1978. Page 65. 

[29] Ibid, 66.

[30] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 10. Image 608.

[31] Another disposal of chiefs passed in Privy Council in the year 1888 retells a similar tale, in which three chiefs (John Isaac, Thomas Lazar and George Thomas) were disposed of due to similar situation, in which they had leased lands and managed the payments themselves, ignoring the requests made by the agent. RG2, Privy Council Office, Series A-1-a. VOL. 625, Reel C-3611.

[32] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 561.

[33] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 8. Image 175.

[34] LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 9. Image 512.

[35] Ibid, 514.

[36] For the accounts of the written petition detailed by Long see LAC, RG10 VOL. C-VI. File T-11955, Letterbook 10. Image 666. For the actual petition sent to Privy Council see LAC, RG2 VOL. 676 Reel C-3633. 

[37] RG10, C-VI. VOL. 12344. Letterbook 7. Image 15.

[38] Ibid, 40. The letterbooks holds an account written by one of the constables, and another detailed report written by Long.