Subsistence and economic adaptation in the Onion Lake Agency, 1876-1920
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This study gives an historical summary of Cree and Chipewyan Indians who resided in the Fort Pitt District from 1876 to 1885 and in the Onion Lake Agency from 1885 to 1920, and examines their adaptation to reservation life, with emphasis on reserve settlement and subsistence activities. Four main topics are discussed: the historical position of the Cree and Chipewyan prior to 1876; identification of Indian bands who signed Treaty Six at Fort Pitt in 1876 and movement to their reservations; the physical environment exploited by these Indians; and, government policies and programs which influenced subsistence activities pursued by Indians in the study area. The study concludes that Indian adaptation to reservation life involved a change in subsistence activities and settlement pattern which maintained a continuity with former lifeways and adopted certain introduced Euro-Canadian values and practices; policies and programs implemented by the government were guided by a desire for economy and exhibited a protectionist attitude; the attitude of the Indians was not always conciliatory towards government programs, and Indians chose certain aspects of these programs which were to their economic and material advantage; and, the pattern of reserve live which developed was closely related to the annual cycle of subsistence activities.