Key Players

Chief Kinoosayoo

Kinoosayoo (The Fish) served as the chief during the Treaty 8 negotiations. He negotiated alongside his brother Moostoos (The Bull).

Moostoos aka the Buffalo

Moostoos aka the Buffalo

Moostoos aka the Buffalo

Moostoos was chosen as a headman for the Woods Cree to speak for his people during the Treaty 8 negotiations. He was born at the western end of Lesser Slave Lake. Moostoos was viewed as a good leader as a result of his expertise as a hunter, trapper and fisher. He was also a great orator, medicine man and healer.

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Reportedly Moostoos complemented Kinoosayoo’s assertive negotiating style during discussions on Treaty 8. Moostoos’ took a more conciliatory approach, attributed to his age, and good relationship with the Catholic Clerg (Cavanaugh, Payne, & Wetherell, 2006). He sought a peaceful coexistence between settlers and First Nations, despite concern with the behaviours of the newcomers with regard to traditional territories occupied by his fellow community members. He eventually served as the chief of the Sucker Creek Reserve, which was surveyed in 1910 (Cavanaugh, Payne, & Wetherell, 2006).

During negotiations, Moostoos stated that “Our country is getting broken up. I see the White man coming in, and I want to be friends. I see what he does, but it is best that we should be friends.”      (Cavanaugh, Payne, & Wetherell, 2006, p. 317 and Dickason, 2006, p. 217)

David Laird

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Born March 12, 1833 in New Glasgow, P.E.I. Laird was the first Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories. Laird also took part in many earlier Treaty negotiations, prior Treaty 8.

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Before becoming the Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories, Laird founded, published and edited the Charlottetown Patriot. In 1873 he was sent to Ottawa to negotiate the admission of PEI into the new Dominion. From 1873-1976, he was appointed Minister of the Interior

Clifford Sifton

Sifton was a studied lawyer, born in London, Ontario but raised in Manitoba. He was admitted to the Manitoba Bar in 1882, and became a member of the Legislative Assembly in 1888. From 1896 to 1905, Sifton served as the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, and Federal Minister of the Interior. He was in charge of the immigration that settled the western plains of Canada.

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Sifton resigned from Federal cabinet in 1905 over a disagreement on the terms of entry of Alberta and Saskatchewan into the Confederation.Sifton also purchased and operated the Manitoba Free press from 1891 until his death in 1921, becoming one of the most influential newspapers of its time. (Office of the Treaty Commissioner, 2014)

James Andrew Joseph McKenna

McKenna was assigned to the Department of Indian Affairs in 1887, serving as the private secretary to Superintendent General Sir John A. McDonald. He studied law, which aided him on his assignments as his position with Indian Affairs grew. In 1897, new Superintendent General Clifford Sifton selected McKenna to work as his private secretary, which involved his engagement with the British Columbia government to secure lands for a railway through the Peace River district.

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In 1899, McKenna joined Laird and James Hamilton Ross in negotiating Treaty 8. McKenna had initially suggested that annuity payments should be made in one lump sum, but Sifton rejected this idea.
In 1900, McKenna was appointed commissioner along with James Walker to conclude Treaty 8 negotiations, and also dealt with issues raised by Metis in the region.
In 1901, McKenna was promoted to assistant Indian Commissioner, replacing Laird. (Office of the Treaty Commissioner, 2014).

James Hamilton Ross

Ross was born in London, Ontario, but raised in Manitoba. In 1882, he moved to Saskatchewan and established mixed farming operations in the Moose Jaw district. In 1883, he was elected to the North-West Council, followed by his election to the Legislative Assembly of the North-West territories in 1888.

Between 1888, and 1899, appointed a Treaty commissioner for Treaty 8, Ross maintained several positions in the North-West Territories government, noted for his fiscal responsibility. Ross is remembered for his leadership in the negotiations with the First Nation signatories to the Treaty.

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In 1901 he was appointed Commissioner of the Yukon Territory, and in 1902 became the first Member of Parliament to represent the Yukon before suffering a paralyzing stroke. He served in the Senate of Canada from 1904 until his death in 1932 (Thome, 2012).