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Farming in

Treaty 6
Grade 8 Student

Early Agreements
Before the treaty was signed, the First Nation
people were already interested in farming. First
Nations people and leaders both had to wait on
the government for farming instructions and
tools and utensils to put to use. Eventually, the
government supplied the demand.

Farming Practices
In 1879, the government introduced the reserve farm instruction
program. A man named David Laird was appointed and was
responsible for 17000 First Nations and over 200000 square miles
of land. He lasted about two months before he was replaced by
Edgar Dewdney who introduced a farming policy (a survey for Cree
reserves) and appointed 12 farming instructors. He used food
rations to make Bands want to sign the Treaty for these farming
benefits. His plan appeared to work because more Bands signed
the Treaty.

Clearing new land was just the start of some many
troubles. Farming implements were few and far in between
and weather was rarely suitable for growing crops. Multiple
other obstacles stood on their way but the First Nations
made a good effort to farm. By the late 1880's, First
Nations farming was striving. They were using what little
they had making the best of it, and later even started
testing new crops.

Sharing Knowledge
First Nations provided settlers with the knowledge of the land
especially in a harsh climate and skills necessary for their
survival. The Plains people knew much about their environment.
Vegetation, rainfall and frost patterns, availability of water, care
of horses, knowledge of summer pasturage, and winter forage
requirements. First Nations also shared their knowledge of the
plants, roots, berries, and herbs. The First Nations provided
services to the settlers by labour work, supplying firewood, hay,
posts, clothing, mocassins, assisting in harvesting, threshing,
cutting brush, picking rocks, and clearing the lands for farming

Successful Farming
First Nations farming was very successful and
some were even more successful than the non
First Nation farms. This lead the government to
make a new policy. The Peasant Policy was
then introduced in 1889 by Hayter Reed, the
Indian Commisioner in the Battlefords region.

Peasant Policy
After seeing too much success with First Nations
farming, the Peasant Policy was introduced. The
Western First Nations were to copy this and keep
their farms small and their machinery rudimentary
(limited or basic). This policy included giving them an
acre of land for wheat, a couple cows and another
portion of an acre for root crops and vegetables. The
Peasant Policy came into play to make sure First
Nations Farming didn't get too successful.

Pass and Permit System

If the Peasant Policy wasn't bad enough, next came the Pass and
Permit system which limited the freedom of a First Nations person and
the flow of goods between settlers and First Nations. Permits were
used for selling goods. Sometimes the permits weren't agreed to at all
and sometimes they were agreed to too late and the goods would go
bad before they were sold. In order to leave the reserve, they also had
to get a pass and were asked if they were travelling with or without a
gun and how long they'd be gone. If they were caught off the reserve
without a pass they'd be arrested and out in jail. The Pass and Permit
system was in play from the late 1880's to after the end of World War
II, or 1951.

First Nations farmers were just as successful
as the white farmers and at times even more
successful. Agriculture assistance from the
government was not met and First Nations
have made claims about this and how they
promised farming assistance but was taken
away from them, which was not planned or
stated in the treaty agreement.