Description of Historic Place
Treaty No. 7 Signing Site National Historic Site of Canada is located at Blackfoot Crossing, near Cluny, Alberta. It is composed of a broad open flood plain on the south side of the Bow River, known as Treaty Flats. The site is included within the limits of Blackfoot Crossing National Historic Site of Canada, which has preserved an undeveloped portion of the wide river valley. It was at this site in September 1877 that representatives of the Siksika, Pekuni, Kainai, Nakoda and Tsuu T’ina peoples met with representatives of the Crown to sign Treaty No. 7, which mainly concerned territorial claims. The site, which is part of the Siksika Indian Reserve No. 146, includes landscape features and archaeological remains that were significant during the signing of the treaty. Official recognition refers to the area on the south side of the Bow River bounded by the high-water mark of the river.
Treaty No. 7 Signing Site was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1925 for the following reasons:
- representatives of the Siksika (Blackfoot), Pekuni (Peigan), Kainai (Blood), Nakoda (Stoney) and Tsuu T'ina (Sarcee) peoples met here with representatives of the Crown to make a treaty in September, 1877;
- Isapo-Muxika (Crowfoot) and David Laird took leading roles in these discussions;
- the treaty facilitated the peaceful settlement of 129,500 square kilometres (50,000 square miles), in return for reserves and the promise of livestock, farming implements and other considerations.
By 1877, many of the western Plains native peoples had signed treaties with the Canadian government following the decline of the buffalo and the incursion of European settlers into their territory. Consequently, that year arrangements were made for representatives of the five nations in the Blackfoot Confederacy – the Siksika, Pekuni, Kainai, Nakoda and Tsuu T’ina – to meet with representatives of the Crown at Blackfoot Crossing to negotiate a settlement under Treaty No. 7. Blackfoot Crossing, a ford on the Bow River, was chosen for the treaty signing site because its natural and cultural resources made it an important camping and meeting place in the heart of Blackfoot territory. Treaty negotiations between the Blackfoot and Crown representatives led by Commissioner David Laird began September 17, 1877, and lasted for three days. Isapo-Muxika, also known as Chief Crowfoot, emerged as a leading spokesman for the Blackfoot with the help of Chief Red Crow of the Kainai. Treaty No. 7 facilitated the peaceful settlement of 129,500 square kilometres (50,000 square miles) of land in southern Alberta to the Crown, in return for reserves, the promise of livestock, farming implements and other considerations.
Sources: Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1925; 2009; Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park Commemorative Integrity Statement for Treaty No. 7, the Earthlodge Village, and Blackfoot Crossing National Historic Sites, April 1997.
Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its location at Blackfoot Crossing, near Cluny, Alberta;
- its setting on a broad open flood plain on the south side of the Bow River, known as Treaty Flats, on the reserve of the Siksika Nation;
- the landscape features and natural resources that made Blackfoot Crossing an important meeting and camping place, including the Bow River, the grassy river flats, the riparian cottonwood forest, the wooded coulees and bluffs, and the grassy prairie-level terraces;
- the spatial and historic relationship of the site with the Blackfoot Crossing and Earthlodge Village National Historic Sites of Canada;
- the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque and monument located within the site surrounded by a white picket fence;
- the presence of buried archaeological remains and historic features that testify to the long time use of the Crossing and mark the locations where traders, government and Oblate mission services were first built;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent;
-the viewscapes across the flood plain known as Treaty Flats west to the backbone of the Rocky Mountains.