Documenting the Dakota: Land

These letters are part of two Department of the Interior homestead files which concern lands reserved by the Department of Indian Affairs for the use of the Dakota at the Wahpeton reserve.

The letters selected from these files highlight the unique relationship between the Government and the Dakota related to their status in British territories. These files document the suggestion made by Mr. James McKay, a Member of Parliament when the Dakota first arrived, that the Dakota be allowed to purchase their lands rather than have them set aside as a reserve.  This suggestion was never followed through on because the Government treated the Dakota as non-treaty peoples, who were regulated by the Indian Act, and who could therefore not acquire lands through the homesteading process.

These letters also highlight the differing views on land use that existed amongst the Dakota people and the Euro-Canadian settlers of the Prince Albert district.  In file #4029206, Duncan Campbell Scott the Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, defends the decision of Commissioner Graham to continue to reserve a small portion of land adjacent to the Wahpeton reserve for the Dakota people to use as hay lands.  This was in response to an increased interest shown by returning soldiers who believed that the lands adjacent to the Wahpeton reserve were not being used.  The Wahpeton reserve was already much smaller than the reserves that were surveyed for other First Nations that obtained their reserves through the treaty making process, so the government did not open these lands up for settlement despite these pressures.  

Click here to view Department of the Interior Lands Branch (Homestead), S-42, File #1799126

Click here to view Department of the Interior Lands Branch (Homestead), S-42, File #4029206

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