Chief Joseph Pasqua was born in 1828 to the prominent Plains Cree Chief Mahkaysis, and came to lead his own band. From 1871 the government of Canada entered into the Numbered Treaties with various First Nations. In 1874 Pasqua and his band were living near present day Leech Lake, Saskatchewan, where they had survived predominantly on buffalo; but they had also planted gardens and were raising a small herd of cattle. In September of that year Pasqua attended the negotiation of Treaty 4 in the Qu’Appelle Valley. According to the only written account of Pasqua’s involvement in the negotiations, he pushed on the Canadian negotiators the fact that the Hudson’s Bay Company had received £300,000 for the sale of Rupert’s Land to the Dominion of Canada. This amount, he argued, should have been paid to Indians. Despite Canada’s refusal to do so, Pasqua signed the Treaty.

Pasqua and his band took up a reserve of 57 square miles approximately five miles west of Fort Qu’Appelle; theirs was the only band to receive their cattle and oxen immediately, as they had already demonstrated to government officials that they could care for livestock, something it was commonly thought Indians did not have the skills to do. During the Resistance of 1885 Pasqua and his band did not become involved, and as a result were given assurances from Sir John A. Macdonald that they would be well treated. Pasqua succumbed to tuberculosis in March 1889, after fighting the disease for several years. After his passing Indian Affairs prevented the selection of a successor, as attempts were being made to eliminate the tribal system in Canada.

Rob Nestor