A History of the Rice Lake Indians by Mary Jane Muskratte Simpson


The following memorandum on the Indians of Rice Lake was prepared by the Branch Archivist of the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, Indian Affairs Branch by Mr. A. E. St. Louis.

The Indians of Rice Lake (Hiawatha) and of Alnwick (Alderville).

The Indians living on the two above mentioned reserves belong to the Mississauga tribe, a subtribe of the great Chippewa nation that inhabited the whole northern part of Ontario.

At the end of the seventeenth and at the beginning of the eighteenth century the Mississauga, whose original habitat was at the mouth of the Mississauga river, on the north shore of Lake Huron and on Manitoulin Island, began to drift toward the southeast into a region from which the Hurons and the Neutrals had been driven by the Iroquois in 1648-49.

The Iroquois were finally driven down the Rice Lake chain along the Trent River and were forced back to their own country south of Lake Ontario.

The Mississaugas carried the war into the Iroquois Cantons and, to prevent the extermination of one or the other of the two nations, a peace treaty was drawn up and signed by the chief men of the belligerent nations under which the Mississaugas were granted sole possession of the territory to the north of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

The Mississaugas of Rice Lake, together with those of Mud and Scugog Lakes, surrendered the greater part of their possessions in 1818 for an annuity of $2,960. The tract so ceded contains 1,951,000 acres, situated in the Newcastle District. A reserve of 11,550 acres was made for the use of the Rice Lake Band and 430 acres were subsequently purchased for them with their own funds. They have a joint interest with the Mud Lake band in 200 acres in Otonabee.

The Mississaugas of Alnwick Band have been collected at different times from the wandering bodies of Indians who were formerly to be found in the neighbourhood of Kingston, Gananoque, and on some of the islands in the Bay of Quinte. They were known as the Mississaugas of Grape Island and Kingston.

They were the remnants of the powerful tribe which ceded a large tract of land in the Johnstown, Midland and Newcastle Districts to the Government. This block contained 2,748,000 acres and was surrendered in 1822, for an annuity of £642 10s.

On the 18th of November 1833, the Mississaugas of Grape Island surrendered Big Island in the Bay of Quinte and on the 21st of the same month Captain Charles Anderson, their Indian Superintendent, was requested to inform them "that if they would select a tract of land where they wished to locate that the Lieutenant Governor will instruct the Commissioner of Crown Lands to reserve it for their use and cultivation".

A reserve in the Township of Alnwick, County of Northumberland, containing 325,617 acres was purchased from them from private owners at different dates between 1836 and 1870. At the time the Indians removed to their new reserve in 1836, their principal Chiefs were Pashageezhig (later changed to Simpson) John Agewains, Jacob Manjequionchcan, Joseph Skunk (later changed to Marsden) James Indian and James Crawford. Records indicate that in 1849 the following were Chief and Principal men of the Alnwick Bands: John Sunday, John Pigeon, Big Jacob, James Indian, and Joseph Skunk.

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