Treaty No. 6 and 21st Century Treaty Day

by Anthony Blair Dreaver Johnston

  • Prior to the Treaties that we talk about today, Nations and Tribes made Treaty between themselves.  
  • These ancient Treaties were about sharing in a peaceful manner. We were not giving up or taking ownership of land or place. 
  • In our Treaty-making we smoked the pipe and we made Promises to one another with the Creator as witness to our Promises. In our language we have a sacred word that we do not use in everyday conversation. In English this word means “Make a Promise”. In our language it is a sacred word because it is used with Creator as our witness.  
  • As part of ensuring our Promises, we would also exchange gifts.
  • In these ancient times there were many tribes that lived on the Great Plains of what we now call North America. At times we battled and had wars but we always found our way to peaceful sharing and living together.
  • In our Treaties with the Crown, with Canada, there were many misunderstandings about the meaning of our words in our language and the words and ideas of the Crown. Despite these differences, Treaty ceremonies, discussions, negotiations, verbal promises and gift-giving followed the practises and protocols of our ancient Treaty-making.
  • Mistawasis Nêhiyawak is part of Treaty No. 6 signed on August 23, 1876. Chief Mistawasis was one of two lead Chiefs in what is now called central Saskatchewan.  Chief Mistawasis was the first to sign Treaty No. 6 and other Chiefs followed. Prior to this Treaty, Mistawasis was recognized as a Peace-maker. We had Chiefs/leaders for different purposes, but the Peace-maker was the most important type of leader.
  • In our Treaty Days today, each year on a pre-selected day, members of our Nation gather and Crown/Canadian representatives bring gifts to share with each member of Mistawasis to reaffirm the Promises of our Treaty. This gift is $5.00 for each member of our community, $15.00 for 4 Councillors and $25.00 for our Chief. Of course, back in 1876 many supplies could be bought for these dollar amounts. Today, for Mistawasis, this annual payment symbolizes and reaffirms the Promises of Treaty.
  • Today we continue to make 21st Century Treaty Promises with those that now share our traditional territories.
  • Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve, CBRA and CCUNESCO are friends of Mistawasis.

Support the Work of our Biosphere Regions

Join us in building resilient communities, conserving nature, and creating a sustainable future for generations to come.

Donate Today
A photo of boats at Alma Warf in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Region.