Sep 27, 2018 - Sale 2486

Sale 2486 - Lot 179

Price Realized: $ 65,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 15,000 - $ 25,000
(AMERICAN INDIANS.) Winton, Francis W. de. Notes on pow-wows with Indians during an official tour of western Canada, with his diary. [167] manuscript pages of letters in diary form, erratically paginated on loose sheets, plus [108] manuscript pages of bound notes. Long 8vo, 10 x 5 1/2 inches, original cloth-backed limp boards, minor wear, with British stationer's tag on inner board; text mostly in the form of retained purple carbon transfer copies with some passages and corrections in pencil, diary leaves detached by serration from the same volume with minor edge wear, and a few sections stapled or clipped together, leaves in original volume numbered through 196 by ink stamp but several are not present. Vp, 23 July to 6 October 1881

Additional Details

This remarkable document dates from a transition moment on Canada's western frontier, when the people of the First Nations had largely given up war and signed treaties as a means to receive aid from the government. With the buffalo almost extinct and their traditional means of livelihood destroyed, they found the promised aid was inadequate for survival. In 1881, the Governor General of Canada arranged for a grand tour of Manitoba and the North-West Territories (including what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta). The Governor General John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne (1845-1914) was the Queen's official representative in Canada, and also her son-in-law. His objective was to solidify dominion over these vast territories by meeting with the scattered few white settlers and the recently subjugated First Nations. The transcontinental railroad had not been completed, so the journey was undertaken by horse and boat. A key member of the governor's traveling party was his secretary Francis Walter de Winton (1835-1901), who during this period was a lieutenant-colonel in the British Army. He was later knighted and reached the rank of major-general; De Winton, a small community in rural Alberta, was named in his honor. Offered here are de Winton's retained copies of his letters in diary form which he sent to his wife Evelyn Rawson de Winton, and also his retained copies of his historically significant notes on the meetings with the First Nations leaders.
The letters read much like an eventful western travel diary. On 29 July he wrote "Tomorrow we go to Winnipeg & then begins the never-ending addresses and all of the functions of a Governor General's first visit to a new community" (page 18). On 13 August, he recorded the first formal encounter with the First Nations, with a hint of contempt rather than sympathy for their plight: "In the afternoon we had a great pow-wow of Soto & Sioux Indians. It was very weary work, for we sat for 4 hours while chief after chief said the same thing. They all wanted food and presents, that was the burden of their tale. . . . They were furnished with a lot of fresh meat, and went off rejoicing at the thought of a good square meal" (page 35). By the time of his second meeting on 17 August, he had developed a bit more perspective: "All the Indian chiefs were assembled. Such a motley crew, such dresses. A deal of hand shaking . . . in the evening some of us went to see an Indian dance, but was the usual thing. It is a very difficult question what to do with these Indians. You cannot civilize them all at once, indeed contact with the white teaches them the white man's vices and these they readily acquire. Their staple article of food, the buffalo, has been killed off, consequently they are in a semi-starving state, and suffer greatly from the cold in the winter. . . . It is out of the question to expect this generation, who within the last 6 years used to go regularly on the war path, take scalps and other amuse'ts, to settle down as quiet farmers" (pages 43-44). The next day, he expressed disappointment in the lack of romance to it all: "There was no sitting in a circle, with a pipe handed round, and then . . . speech full of poetry and idyllic language, for which I can refer you to Fenimore Cooper" (page 49). The largest meeting was on 10 September with a group of Blackfeet and Sarcee (Tsuut'ina): "The warriors, mounted on their ponies, dashed forward, firing of guns, nearly all of which had bullets in, and performing the play of a mimic fight. It was really a striking scene with far more character than any other Indian gathering we have seen. Every man was got up in his paint, and with their many coloured blankets the foreground was full of bits of colour. . . . Finally the chief advanced, the head being a celebrated Blackfoot called Crowfoot. Crowfoot was very diplomatic. . . . & then came the usual askings and statements that they would starve if more rations were not given. There was however one satisfactory request they made, that was for farming implements and an instructor" (page 79).
Even more interesting than the diary are the notes de Winton kept during the Indian pow-wows, in his role as the Governor's secretary. He records the chief's name and does his best to transcribe their speeches. The notes are often undated, but can sometimes be cross-referenced with pow-wows mentioned in the diary. These speeches are often a heart-breaking litany of desperate complaints. In the first full entry, a Sioux named Standing Buffalo told the Governor at Qu'Appelle: "I like to live like white people, I and my children, and a school where they can be taught. All the men of my band are very poor. My men are naked & when winter comes they will be cold. We have not enough tools to begin to farm. For 5 years we have not had ammunition to kill game to eat. . . . I came to this ground and was promised something to live on, & have never received it. Our Mother [the Queen] promised me clothing. Please give me cover clothes, blankets, and cotton." At the same meeting, another named Day Bird insisted: "Listen carefully. We wish you to grant what we ask for the women & children. Each man, head of a family wishes a yoke of oxen & a cow, needles & thread & useful articles for the women. Let us see the kindness of the Queen. There are many perishing of cold" (page 185 verso). Another pow-wow of Cree was recorded at Carlton in what is now Saskatchewan (pages 163-170), and of Cree and Stoney Indians at Battleford (also now Saskatchewan), pages 154-162.
Next come 11 pages of notes on a 10 September conversation between the Governor and the renowned Siksika chief Crowfoot (1830-1890), a voice for peace who would soon sit out the 1885 North-West Rebellion. Crowfoot demonstrated their plight: "You see (holding up an empty cup) what we have that is the measure which each person receives, and they cannot live on that alone. One person gets that cup full per diem. . . . I never feel right. I expect I will be starved to death even though I have the medal. I have been eating nothing but flour. . . . For my part I will not go on the war path. All my horses are gone. I cannot go. I must remain."
The notes concludes with the remainder of the Blackfeet pow-wow on 10 September at Fort McLeod in what is now Alberta, and with the words of Red Crow on 20 September. The original copy of all these notes was apparently passed on through official channels, but they do not appear to have been published. Provenance: acquired at auction in January 2018 as part of a larger lot of de Winton family papers.
with--an 1886 letter addressed to Colonel Sir F.W. de Winton to help establish provenance and the identity of the author.