Paula Daigle, librarian for the First Nations University of Canada, holds up the glass case that houses the 1899 original travelling copy of Treaty 8. (Brad Bellegarde/CBC ) Century-old treaty documents, a Bible in Cree syllabics and negatives of chiefs from the early 1900s are among the First Nations historical treasures housed in a university library in Regina.
One that is garnering particular attention at the First Nations University of Canada is an original travelling copy of Treaty 8 printed in 1899.
Brendan Edwards remembers when he was working as the librarian at FNUniv a colleague who was about to retire showed him the treaty.
"She opened up the drawer … its condition was not great. You couldn’t even unroll it in the condition it was in, " said Edwards, who is now head of library and archives at the Royal Ontario Museum.
"If you tried to flatten it out it would have probably cracked. When I first saw it, I thought ‘we probably need to get this preserved,’" he said with a chuckle.
Paula Daigle, the current librarian at FNUniv, is a strong believer in the need for preserving historical documents like the Treaty 8 copy.
"It’s really impactful for people when they come in [and] when I have school groups come in. It’s one thing for them to look at something on a screen, but for them to see the actual physical object, it impacts them a lot more," said Daigle.
A display copy of Treaty 4 also hangs on the wall of the library. According to Daigle, the copy is from the 1910-20 era and is printed on a fabric-like material similar to that of early currency. Paula Daigle, librarian for First Nations University of Canada, displays the cover from a hymn book that was printed in the Saulteaux language. The book was printed in St. Boniface, Man., in 1942 and was obtained from a #residential school by the library. (Brad Bellegarde/CBC)
Edwards and Daigle agree that one of the library’s most treasured pieces of literature is a Bible that was printed in London in 1861. Its text is in early Cree syllabics.
Edwards said the library showed the Bible to Arok Wolvengrey, a Cree linguist, and he confirmed the syllabics were not used for a long period of time and have since changed.
Daigle said it’s neat to see the difference between the Bible’s syllabics and modern syllabics.
Among the library’s other artifacts are 71 negatives that depict chiefs from the Treaty 4 territory.
The eight-by-10-inch nitrate negatives were taken around 1910-20 and feature chiefs in full regalia. According to Daigle, research indicates the reason for the portrait-style photographs were in preparation for a royal visit.
The library is open to the public for anyone who wants to see these items.
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