Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Fall 2002


Published in Great Plains Research 12:2 (Fall 2002). Copyright © 2002 Center for Great Plains Studies.


This is a solid and useful contribution to the growing literature on the so-called "numbered treaties" with Native Peoples in the Canadian West. Its focus is on the five treaties negotiated with the First Nations whose homelands included parts of the present province of Saskatchewan: Treaties 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10, signed during the period from 1874 into the early twentieth century. Initially advertised with the subtitle A Documentary History of Saskatchewan Treaties, the volume indeed emphasizes evidence from and interpretations of written documents, some quoted at length. The authors note that the original intent was "to embody both oral and documentary evidence in a single account," but as time (and space?) prohibited this, Harold Cardinal and Walter Hildebrandt took on presenting the oral history as a separate project (Treaty Elders of Saskatchewan , 2000). These practical constraints are understandable but regrettable, since readers would have benefitted greatly from being able to view and compare the written (EuroCanadian) and oral (First Nations) evidence juxtaposed in one work. The analytical challenges would also have been greater, and the analysis perhaps deepened, had the authors been obliged to unify these source materials in a single connected text.