The National Policy, the department of the interior and original settlers : land claims of the Metis, Green Lake, Saskatchewan, 1909-1930
Thornton, John Philip
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This thesis questions the adequacy of the Department of the Interior's response to the land claims of Metis settlers in Green Lake, Saskatchewan. Metis people originally settled in Green Lake because of the pattern of development of the fur trade. Green Lake was a major nexus on the fur trade transportation system, which encouraged Metis settlement and community development. After Confederation, when the national policy generated regional differentiation through uneven development, Green Lake remained under fur-trade domination. National policy expansion reached Green Lake with surveys in 1909 and 1911, replacing fur-trade property relations with the Dominion Lands Act. The surveys revealed Green Lake as a fur trade settlement with property claims consistent with the fur trade economy. Prior treatment of such claims under national policy regulations promised recognition of Metis claims based on prior settlement. Economic recession and World War I led to the abatement of national policy expansion. As a result, the department postponed action on the Metis claims until renewed interest in national policy settlement. Legislation passed in 1919 provided new direction to departmental consideration of the Green Lake claims. The only remnant of recognition of fur trade settlement was reference to 1908 legislation requiring occupancy at the time of treaty. The department subsequently disposed of Metis claims by offering most claimants only a right to purchase claimed land. Departmental response to Metis claims at Green Lake was inadequate on several grounds. It failed to consider adequately property relations extant from the fur trade economy. It acted without due consideration for established precedents associated with the national policy. It acted ultra vires to carry out and justify a restrictive and mean spirited response to Metis claims. The retroactive nature of 1908 legislation unfairly penalized claimants in the Treaty Six area. The department's limitation of the eligibility of claimants by constrictive criteria was compounded by its failure to examine seriously the evidence of Metis settlement that would have met such criteria. At the time of the 1930 transfer of land administration to the prairie provinces, the land claims of the Metis settlers of Green Lake remained unsatisfied.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorBarron, F. Laurie
CommitteeWaldram, James B.; Tough, Frank; Smith, David E.
Land claims - Saskatchewan
Department of the Interior - Canada
Green Lake - Saskatchewan