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Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History No. 14

The British Indian Department and the Frontier in North America, 1755-1830

by Robert S. Allen

Appendix C

Upper Canada; Lieut.-Governor
Sir John Colborne to R.W. Hay, York,
3 May 18291

Dear Sir,

Since the receipt of your letter of the 3rd of December, I have collected such information respecting the Indian Department, as now enables me to offer an opinion how far it may be expedient to carry reduction, and what measures should be adopted to diminish gradually the expense incurred in conveying the annual presents to the Indians settled in Upper Canada, and to those who have been accustomed to assemble at Drummond's Island, and Amherstburg, from the territory of the United States.

It appears I think, that a considerable decrease in the expense of the establishment of the Indian Department may be effected in a few years, if the course which has been pursued with the Mossissagas [Missisagas] of the Credit should be observed with the other tribes. You will perceive by the annexed report, from the Revd. Mr. Magnath, that a very extraordinary and beneficial change has taken place at that station.

Under the superintendence of attentive resident agents, civilization maybe extended to the whole of the Indians of this Province, and fund created for their future support by granting leases of their lands, and selling part of them.

We have been involved, for many years, in a system which has occasioned an enormous expense without conferring any benefit on the Indians, on insuring their friendship. A great effort will now, I hope, be made to ameliorate their condition and to place their children under zealous instructors.

No alteration can yet take place with propriety, in the amount of the presents issued to the Indians who resort annually to Amherstburg from the United States, or to those who have been accustomed to visit Drummond's Island; but some expense may be saved by fixing the periods of issue at the former place . . . . [He recommends a number of staff rearrangements in the Indian Department.]

These four Superintendents should be actively employed in collecting the Indians in villages,2 and inducing them to cultivate their lands, and divide them into lots. They should encourage them to send their children to the schools which will be prepared for their reception. They will be able probably to persuade the Chiefs to give their consent, that the sums due to them for the lands sold to Government shall be expended on their houses, and in furnishing them with agricultural implements, cattle, etc. They can explain to them the benefit the tribes will receive from their lands being leased, and in certain cases, from their being sold, with the sanction of the Lt. Governor and the usual Council . . .

It is, however, highly important to let the Indians feel that they are indebted to our Government for the benefits which may be expected to result from establishing schools, and appointing religious teachers, and that all improvements proceed from us. The American Methodists are using great exertions to maintain their influence. They have taken Indian children into the States for the purpose of raising subscriptions, and they have a few days since requested that they may be allowed to import bibles, tracts, and clothing for the Indians on the Rice Lakes . . .

It will also be expedient to allow a charge of thirty on forty pounds a year at each station for medical attendance. A special Order will be required to authorize the Lt. Governor to consent to the Indian Reserves being disposed of, if in certain cases it should be desirable to alienate them. Several Chiefs have expressed their wish to have schools established, and to bring their tribes together.

The Americans have lately adopted a plan for civilizing the Indians in some parts of the United States; and have formed respectable establishments of missionaries, school masters, farmers. and mechanics. I think we should have similar establishments. The expense must be borne in the first instance by Government, but I have no doubt that we may depend on being able to make the Indians support themselves and all the establishments recommended, at no distant period . . . .

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