There may have been more to James Hassan’s placement as the farm instructor on the Assiniboine/Carry the Kettle reserve than I originally read in the Indian Affairs report.
In 1988 an inquiry was brought to the Department of Indian Affairs, regarding a section of IR 76 (Indian Reserve 76) that was sold by the Carry the Kettle people to the Crown in 1905. The claim was rejected in 1994, and then the Indian Claims commission agreed to open a new inquiry, which was held up until 2004 at the request of the band until another inquiry was completed. Finally, Indian Claims Commission, Carry the Kettle First Nation Inquiry: 1905 Surrender Inquiry (Ottawa, December 2008) was released.
In a nutshell, in December 1904 the band approached Agent Thomas Aspdin (who had also stood in as a farming instructor) about surrendering about 5760 acres of land to the Crown. The conditions of the surrender included that the proceeds be used first to pay the debts owing to the department. The rest was to be used to buy lumber to build a shed to house their wheat thresher, replace the engine of the wheat thresher, and to compensate the band members who had invested their labour in the land.
The reason for the inquiry was that the band believed that the Agency had acted against the Indian Act of 1886 by accepting and carrying out the conditions of the surrender even though they were not expressly provided for in the sections of the Act outlining the Governor in Council’s power and authority. In addition they believed that the land had been sold without giving proper notice for the meeting or having quorum of male band members over 21 at the meeting. (At the time, a majority would have been around 20 men.) Canada cites other inquiries and examples where things that were not expressly mentioned in the Act were granted (Section 70 mentions the allowance for purchase of cattle by the Governor in Council, but other bands used funds for other farm animals and implements). Essentially, Canada says that the band’s conditions were satisfactorily met and since the band didn’t cede decision making power to the Crown, that there was no outstanding lawful obligation to the Carry the Kettle. The full inquiry report can be read in pdf form from the University of Saskatchewan Indigenous Studies Portal.
The part I found interesting about the farming instructor position is this:
The First Nation argues that Indian Agent Aspdin exerted pressure and undue influence on the Band to agree to the surrender. They assert that Aspdin was either inexperienced or negligent in his duties, as both Indian Agent and Farming Instructor, and points to records which, it argues, illustrate Aspdin’s incompetence. In particular, the First Nation refers to a 1904 letter from Graham in which he allegedly reproached Aspdin for poor crops and suggested that a “practical farming instructor” be brought in to manage the Band’s farming endeavours. This plan, the First Nation asserts, was frustrated by Aspdin’s inability to purchase a suitable thresher. Aspdin, it is argued, was concerned for his own well-being and exerted pressure on the Band to agree to surrender conditions which favoured both the Crown and himself.
- Indian Claims Commission, Carry the Kettle First Nation Inquiry: 1905
Surrender Inquiry (Ottawa, December 2008), page 44
Thomas Aspdin is listed in the report as having been the Indian Agent for the Assiniboine Reserve from 1901-1905. Did he get transferred to another reserve because of unrest after the sale? Did Inspector Graham recommend that since there was a new farmer, they should get a new agent, too? No, the answer is simpler than that. According to the Indian Affairs report for that year, he took ill in December of 1905 and died in February 1906.