Rare treaty medal finds way back to Native hands

A rare Treaty 4 medal has been returned to its Saskatchewan home, thanks to a community-spirited bidder.

Paula Acoose and Ray McCallum heard about the medal, which was offered in Jeffrey Hoare Auction’s September sale. Without time to raise funds for the medal, they decided to use their savings to cover the initial cost. Treaty 4 Nations have pledged the funds to cover the outlay.

The medal was one of 21 handed out to First Nations chiefs who signed the treaty, covering southern Saskatchewan, in 1874. A small number of medals have survived to this day, and this was the first to come up for public sale in several years.

The treaty, between the Crown and the Cree and Salteaux nations, established reserves and guaranteed certain native rights and annual payments, in return for surrendering their claims to most of modern-day southern Saskatchewan and part of Manitoba and Alberta.

Somehow it made its way into the Robert D.W. Band collection. Band died in 2013, and the collection was consigned to Wendy Hoare for sale.

The medal has a bust of Queen Victoria on one side, and on the reverse two figures shaking hands, one in a feathered headdress, the other wearing a Victorian uniform with plumed helmet. Around the design is the inscription “Indian Treaty No. 4, 1874.”

Its value was estimated at $4,500. However, the sale attracted several determined bidders, and the bidding ran up much higher before the couple was successful. Acoose entered her first bid at $37,000, and when that bid was defeated placed the winning bid of $40,000.

Acoose said the outcome was so emotional that she and McCallum cried and hugged after the sale. Acoose is a member of a Treaty 4 Nation, while her husband has connections to Treaty Six.

Wendy Hoare accompanied the medal to Regina, where the medal was turned over to Treaty 4 elders, leaders, and members, after a welcoming ceremony.

According to Royce Pettyjohn, a Maple Creek historian, the medal has “great historical significance as well as spiritual significance.”

Pettyjohn had been researching the medals, when he discovered the upcoming sale and informed Acoose.

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