White Settlers In Caughnawaga | Sir John A. Macdonald via Indian Affairs (1880) | Surname: DeLorimier
Caughnawaga, 25th February, 1880
To the right Hon. Sir John A. Macdonald, etc. etc. etc.,
Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs
Sir,- the Indian agent here having received instructions to give notice to owners of land on the Reservation that after the first day of May next they would not be allowed to retain persons other than Indians in the cultivation of their farms and holdings. venture to address you on the subject, hoping that you will be pleased to reconsider the matter, in view of its disastrous consequences to several inhabitants of this village and neighborhood who employ white men on their farms, as well as its importance to the people generally.
The persons more directly interested in the prohibition are possessors of land to which, as is the case with my own family, they have come by inheritance, by purchase or otherwise, in accordance with the ancient customary law of the Iroquois tribe, and whose titles have been declared good and valid by judgments of the Courts of Lower Canada. the number of white men now employed on farms in the Reservation do not, I believe, exceed twelve at the utmost. The result of driving away white agriculturists from the Reservation must be that a considerable extent of land will be left wholly barren or insufficiently cultivated, the Indians being unfit or unwilling to do the work, while white men are excluded.
That the presence of these white men on the Reservation has been of much advantage to the Indian population, is admitted by all disinterested persons acquainted with the past and present condition of affairs her. Many Indians have thereby been induced to cultimate their lands, which had formerly been neglected by them an allowed to run to waste; and the quantity of land thus redeemed and utilized is perceptibly, if slowly, increasing. In fact the white farmers introduced into the Reservation have, by precept and example, played the part of teachers to the Indians in agricultural knowledge, than which no greater benefit could be conferred on them, They are, in short, doing that for the Indians of Caughnawaga which the trained agriculturists engaged by the Government are intended to do for the Indians of the Northwest, with this difference, that the teaching in Caughnawaga is without expense to the public. I may mention in connection with this point that a crisis in the affairs of the Indians of this place is in progress, which will likely result in making attention to farming a matter of vital importance to them.
Hitherto the mass of the people have been almost wholly occupied as pilots or hands on rafts coming down the St. Lawrence; but that occupation is fast failing them for some time past. Last year the rafts descending to Montreal were few in number, and next summer it is certain there will be fewer still. This change has arisen from the fact of the railways having made arrangements for carrying lumber to market, and it is expected that the traffic will almost wholly pass over to them. How these Indians who have no other calling are to gain their livelihood in future it is not easy to conceive; the necessity, therefore, of their turning to agriculture is the more evident.
I again, then, take the liberty of respectfully requesting your further consideration of this affair. I am justified in stating, from my own personal knowledge, that all intelligent men in this vicinity agree in condemning the ejection of white agriculturists from the Reservation, independently of the circumstance that considerable pecuniary loss will occur by the sacrifice of property and work already done or bgun. It is also impossible to doubt that the contnuance of their services, under the supervision and control of the Superintendent General, would be attended with hghly beneficial results.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,
Alexander De Lorimier
Ottawa, 15th April, 1880
To Mr. Alexander De Lorimier, Caughnawaga, P.Q.
Sir,- I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 25th February last, relative to an order sent from this office to the Indian agent at Caughnawaga, to warn all unauthorized persons residing in the Reserve to remove therefrom by the 2nd May next.
I am directed by the Right Honourable the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs to inform you in reply that the order referred to applies only to white people in illegal occupation of lands on the Reserve, an has no reference to the employees of Indian farmers, with whom the Department has never attempted to interfere; on the contrary, the Department had always said that an Indian farmer as as much right as a white farmer to hire farm laborers.
You and other on the reserve have, however, undertaken without the authority of the Superintendent General, to lease portions of lots to white people. And, as this is contrary to the provisions of the Indian Act, and as the presence of white people on the Reserve has greatly excited the Indians, the Department has instructed its agent at Caughnawaga to inform those who have so leased their lands that they must make arrangements for the working of their farms other than leasing portions of them on shares to white men.
I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Deputy supt.-General of Indian Affairs.
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