Petition to Establish Metis Export Rights

James Sinclair, became a spokes-person for the ‘new nation’—the group of both French and English-speaking Half Breeds in the Red River valley who had forged an identity in the preceding decades. The sequence of events which compelled him to petition for the rights of the ‘New Nation’ are complex and span the years from 1841 to 1850. They are tied to the changing economic needs of the growing Métis population in the Red River valley and the battle for free trade. James Sinclair tried to establish his right to export and on 29 August 1845, in an attempt to clarify matters with the company, he presented a petition to Alexander Christie, Governor of Assiniboia, inquiring about hunting, trapping and trading rights of the native sons in relationship to the company and to the settlement. He wanted to confirm the rights of the Native Born as compared to British subjects. Letter from James Sinclair et al. to Alexander Christie, Governor of Red River Settlement, 29 August 1845. RED RIVER SETTLEMENT, August 29, 1845. "SIR,—Having at this moment a very strong belief that we, as natives of this country, and as half-breeds, have the right to hunt furs in the Hudson Bay Company’s territories whenever we think proper, and again sell those furs to the highest bidder, likewise having a doubt that natives of this country can be prevented from trading and trafficking with one another, we would wish to have your opinion on the subject, lest we should commit ourselves by doing any thing in opposition either to the laws of England or the honorable company’s privileges, and therefore lay before you, as governor of Red River settlement, a few queries, which we beg you will answer in course. "Query 1. Has a half-breed, a settler, the right to hunt furs in this country? "2. Has a native of this country, not an Indian, a right to hunt furs? "3. If a half-breed has the right to hunt furs, can he hire other half-breeds for the purpose of hunting furs? "4. Can a half-breed sell his furs to any person he pleases? "5. Is a half-breed obliged to sell his furs to the Hudson’s Bay Company at whatever price the company may think proper to give him? "6. Can a half-breed receive any furs, as a present, from an Indian, a relative of his? "7. Can a half-breed hire any of his Indian relatives to hunt furs for him?


"8. Can a half-breed trade furs from another half-breed, in or out of the settlement? "9. Can a half-breed trade furs from an Indian, in or out of the settlement? "10. With regard to trading or hunting furs, have the half-breeds, or natives of European origin, any rights or privileges over Europeans?’ "11. A settler, having purchased lands from Lord Selkirk, or even from the Hudson’s Bay Company, without any conditions attached to them, or without having signed any bond, deed, or instrument whatever, whereby he might have willed away his right to trade furs, can he be prevented from trading furs in the settlement with settlers,- or even out of the settlement? "12. Are the limits of the settlement defined by the municipal law, Selkirk grant, or Indian sale? "13. If a person can not trade furs, either in or out of the settlement, can he purchase them for his own and family use, and in what quantity? "14. Having never seen any official statements, nor known, but by report, that the Hudson’s Bay Company has peculiar privileges over British subjects, natives,, and halfbreeds, resident in the settlement, we would wish to know what those privileges are, and the penalties attached to the infringement of the same. "We remain your humble servants, James Sinclair1

Peter Garriock2

James Sinclair (b. 1805) was the Métis son of Chief Factor William Sinclair and his Cree-Metis wife Nahovway (Margaret) Norton. He was educated at Stromness in the Orkneys and then took Law at the University of Edinburgh. On December 3, 1829, James married Elizabeth Bird, the daughter of retired Chief Factor James Bird. They were to have nine children before her death in 1846. Subsequently, in April of 1848 Sinclair married again to Marty Campbell, the daughter of Chief Trader Colin Campbell. They had three daughters and one son. In 1841 Sinclair led a Red River immigrant group to the Oregon Territory. They left Fort Garry on June 3, 1841. The 1,700-mile trip took them from White Horse Plains in Manitoba to Fort Vancouver and finally Fort Nisqually. They traveled via what are now known as Whiteman Pass and Sinclair Pass to Lake Windemere and Canal Flats. Jemmy Jock Bird acted as their guide for the part of the journey that crossed Blackfoot territory. On October 12, 1841, after a 130-day journey the group reached Fort Vancouver on the Columbia River. His son was born shortly after Sinclair was shot and killed while in the Cascades on company business in 1856 (at age 45). 2 Peter Garrioch (1811-1888) was a Scottish-Cree Métis who worked as a schoolteacher, Catechist with Reverend Cochran, and fur trader. He was the son of Nancy Cook, the daughter of William Hemmings Cook, Governor of York Factory and his wife Mary, daughter of Matthew Cocking. His father was William Garrioch. William retired from the HBC in 1820 and became the first schoolteacher at Middlechurch parish. Peter was born on an island in Lake Winnipeg where his parents were camped while travelling between Norway House and Swan River. While based in Red River, Peter frequently travelled down to the Mississippi River country. He was active in the free trade advocacy movement in the 1830s and 40s. In 1834, he and some friends packed furs down to the United States to get a better price. He then taught school for two years at St. John’s. He then moved south in 1837, looking to further his education. He arrived in Fort Snelling on July 27, 1837, after a forty-three day journey from Red River. He got sidetracked by his interest in the Chippewa treaty negotiations


Baptist Larocque Thomas Logan3 Pierre Leverdure4 Joseph Monkman Baptiste Wilkie7 Bapti Fanian8

Jack Spence Alexis Goulait Antoine Morin5 Willm McMillan6 Louis LeTendre Robert Mountour9

and did not enter school. Instead, he took Reverend Jedediah Stevens place at a Sioux mission at Harriet Lake (present day Minneapolis), while Stevens went on a fund raising trip to New York. After Stevens returned, Peter took a teaching job at the Methodist mission at Kaposia. He then took one year at Kenyon College, but his eyes were failing and he quit. His briother-in-law Henry Cook also signed this petition. Garrioch then became an independent fur trader for the American Fur Company. His father-in-law Kenneth McKenzie was the trader who organized the upper Missouri operations of the company and had built Fort Union. It is interesting that McKenzie was later to adopt the famous Metis scout, Jerry Potts. Peter established himself at a post on the Mouse (Souris) River and spent 1843-45 moving between Red River, Wintering Creek and Fort Clark on the Missouri. In 1844, he was part of the party that first opened the Crow Wing Trail from St. Paul to Fort Garry. Garrioch was working with James Sinclair to import goods from St. Paul into Red River, and helped establish the regular cart trail between the two settlements. In the 1860s he had moved into the buffalo robe trade. 3 Thomas Logan (b. 1812) was born at Sault Ste. Marie, the Metis son of Robert Logan and Mary Chippewa O’Meara. He first married Margaret Cummings, the daughter of Cuthbert Cummings and Suzette MaKee in 1833 at Red River. He then married Mary Anne Dease, the daughter of John Warren Dease and and Geneviève Beignet. His brother-in-law john Dease also signed this petition. 4 Pierre “Nap-pah-kee-tche-quonish” Laverdure Sr. (1819-1902) Pierre Laverdure was the son of Alexis Laverdure (b. 1744) and Angelique Montour. Pierre Laverdure inherited his father’s farm on Riviere Sale upon his death in 1850 and apparently abandoned it in 1855. Pierre married Catherine Charette, the daughter of Jean Baptiste Charette and Charlotte Sansregret circa 1836. He died in 1902 at Lewistown, Montana. He was special constable upper Fort Garry (10 Feb 1868); farmer, buffalo bone collector, plains hunter after 10 February 1868. He and Catherine Charette were enumerated in the census in 1880 Judith Basin, Meagher County, Montana. 5 Antoine Comtois dit Morin. Antoine was born in 1830, the son of Antoine Morin and Therese Larocque (b.1813) the daughter of Joseph Larocque and Therese (Assiniboine). He married Louise Apicito Tanner at St. Joseph’s 1864. Antoine died 1883. Antoine Morin was one of the Metis men working with the Palliser Expedition in 1857. 6 William McMillan was born in 1806 at Fort Edmonton, the son of James McMillan (1783-1858) and Josephte Belisle (b. 1786). William was one of four Metis children of James MacMillan (H.B.C. and N.W.C. factor). He was first a buffalo hunter at Fort Edmonton. He settled at Red River in 1830s. William married Margaret Dease (1818-1912) the daughter of John Warren Dease. William was active in the Metis free trade movement and signed the Metis Petition for Special Rights in 1845 and the 1849 and 1850 letters to HBC Governor George Simpson which requested a Metis representative on the Red River Council. 7 Jean Baptiste Wilkie was a great Metis warrior, buffalo hunter and Chief of the Metis at Pembina, North Dakota. He was one of the Metis hunters who fed the Scots Selkirk Settlers during their first six years in the country. In the mid-1820s he was operating a large horse ranch beside the Red River in what is now St. Vital. Because of HBC prohibitions on Metis free-trade Wilkie permanently moved his operations south of the border in the 1840s. His family then appears in the 1850 Pembina Census. On the Chippewa side of his family he was a descendant of Mezhekamkijkok. Jean Baptiste and his family were on the Pembina Annuity Roll for Little Shell’s Band in 1867 and in 1868 appear on the Annuity Roll for Way-ke-ge-kezhick’s Band. Under the Red Lake and Pembina Treaty (1872) he was issued Half Breed scrip #172. His family appears in an early Red River Census. Known as the chief of the Half Breeds in the Pembina/St. Joseph area, Jean Baptiste married Amable Elise (Isabella) Azure (b. 1808). Wilkie’s father Alexander was from Scotland and his mother’s name was Mezhekamkijkok. Jean-Baptiste’s wife, Amable Azure7 (b.1808) was the daughter of Pierre Azure (b. 1788) and Marguerite Assiniboine.7 Amable died in 1888 and is buried at Olga North Dakota.


Edward Harmon10 John Dease11 Henry Cook12 Willm Bird John Vincent13

Jack Anderson James Monkman Antoine Desjarlois Lent Thomas McDermot

Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell Coordinator of Metis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute

Probably Jean Baptiste Fagnant (b. 1801), St. Francoise Xavier, married Josephte Monet dit Belhumeur, daughter of Michel Monet dit Belhumeur and Marguerite Grant. 9 Robert “Bonhomme” Montour. (1787-1857) Robert was likely the son of fur trader Nicholas Montour (1756-1808) and an Indian woman; and the grandson Andrew Montour (1720–1772) and Sarah Ainse. Robert was one of the first leaders of the Metis Nation. On June 15, 1815 he, Cuthbert Grant, Bostonais Pangman and William Shaw signed a decree ordering the HBC to remove all traces of colonization at the Forks. This bison hunting family lived at Red River, white Horse Plain and Pembina. In 1845, he was one of the Metis who sent a letter to HBC Governor Alexander Christie to clarify the rights of the Metis. In 1857, he died at Pembina and was buried there. In 1885 three of his grandsons were active in the Metis Resistance at Batoche. Robert was born at Red River. Robert married Marie Josephte Spence, b. c. 1799 in 1818. The couple had two sons and three daughters. Robert is shown to be working for Alexander Henry the younger at Pembina in 1808. The family was enumerated at Red River in 1831 to 1840, then at Grantown in 1843. The family is shown on the Pembina Census of 1850 as family #64. By that time his wife had been deceased for 11 years. Josephte died on 24 March 1839 and was buried two days later at Saint-François-Xavier. Robert died on April 1, 1857, Assumption, Pembina, ND. 10 Edward Harmon. (b. 1805) Edward Harman, Metis, alias Edward Addotte, of the Pembina Ojibwa Band applied Lake Superior scrip and received May 10, 1865 La Pointe 1854 scrip # 120 for 80 acres. Charles Bottineau identified him as someone he has known for over thirty years, connected with the Pembina Band of Chippewas, about 70 years of age and living at St. Joseph. Edward Addote Harmon received scrip #365 under the 1864 Old Crossing Chippewa Treaty. He married Marguerite Paquette in 1841. Edward Harmon, Jean Baptiste Wilkie and Robert Montour signed letter to Governor Christie, to clarify the rights of the Metis, in August 29, 1845. Later, in 1850 Edward was elected as one of the nine Metis leaders to meet with Governor Ramsey for Treaty negotiations in 1851. The records show that Edward was a Metis hunt leader. In 1863, he is leading a Metis camp and gives information to Captain James Fisk who is leading a party of immigrants to the Montana gold fields. 11 John Dease Jr. (1823-1866) was a Scottish Half-Breed, of Red River, the son of Chief Factor John Warren Dease and Geneviève Beignet. His brother-in-law Thomas Logan also signed this petition. Dease married Angelique McMillan, the daughter of James McMillan and Marie Letendre before 1841, then married Isabelle Gladue, the daughter of Charles Gladue and Marguerite Ross at St. Joseph North Dakota. John was appointed to the Council of Assiniboia on March 5, 1861. They left Fort Garry to settle in North Dakota in 1863. He worked out of St. Joseph as a trader and died there in 1866. 12 Henry Cook (b. 1817) was the Metis son of Joseph Cook (b. 1878) and Catherine Sinclair. He married Harriet Garrioch, the daughter of William Garrioch and Nancy Cook in 1838 at St. Andrews. Harriet’s brother, Peter Garrioch also signed this petition. In 1875 he was a merchant working in St. James. 13 John Vincent was born on 15 July 1797 in Albany District and died 27 January 1874 at St. Paul’s. He was the son of Thomas Vincent and Jane Reston. John married Charlotte Thomas.



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