A most faithful representation of the Indian Dance at Government House, Fredericton New Brunswick on the 1st of January 1835,

"A most faithful representation of the Indian Dance at Government House, Fredericton New Brunswick on the 1st of January 1835, at which Major W.N. Grange was present. Drawn by Captain J. Campbell, 38th Regt. A.D.C. to his Father Sir Archibald Campbell, Bart, KCGB. And now Brigadier General”, 1835

Heritage Branch Province of New Brunswick
1835-01-01
NB 993.11.31
© 2006, Heritage Branch Province of New Brunswick. All Rights Reserved.


The artist’s caption on this painting reads: “A most faithful representation of the Indian Dance at Government House, Fredericton New Brunswick on the 1st of January 1835, at which Major W.N. Grange was present. Drawn by Captain J. Campbell, 38th Regt. A.D.C. to his Father Sir Archibald Campbell, Bart, KCGB. And now Brigadier General”. Sir John Campbell, the son of Lieutenant-Governor Sir Archibald Campbell (1831-1837), was an accomplished amateur artist. He is also well-known for his winter scene of Fredericton entitled New Brunswick Fashionables!!! (1834) in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum (W581 A).

Sir John Campbell served in India, Burma, the Mediterranean, West Indies, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. He was in Fredericton as Aide-de-Camp during his father’s tenure as Lieutenant-Governor (1831-1837). Posted to the Crimea in March 1854, Sir John Campbell was present at the battles of Alma and Inkerman. He was killed in action on the Redan in 1855.

Indian Dance at Government House depicts the yearly visit of Maliseets to the Lieutenant-Governor’s residence on January 1, 1835 &nda Read More

The artist’s caption on this painting reads: “A most faithful representation of the Indian Dance at Government House, Fredericton New Brunswick on the 1st of January 1835, at which Major W.N. Grange was present. Drawn by Captain J. Campbell, 38th Regt. A.D.C. to his Father Sir Archibald Campbell, Bart, KCGB. And now Brigadier General”. Sir John Campbell, the son of Lieutenant-Governor Sir Archibald Campbell (1831-1837), was an accomplished amateur artist. He is also well-known for his winter scene of Fredericton entitled New Brunswick Fashionables!!! (1834) in the collection of the New Brunswick Museum (W581 A).

Sir John Campbell served in India, Burma, the Mediterranean, West Indies, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. He was in Fredericton as Aide-de-Camp during his father’s tenure as Lieutenant-Governor (1831-1837). Posted to the Crimea in March 1854, Sir John Campbell was present at the battles of Alma and Inkerman. He was killed in action on the Redan in 1855.

Indian Dance at Government House depicts the yearly visit of Maliseets to the Lieutenant-Governor’s residence on January 1, 1835 – a custom which commenced with Sir Howard Douglas. As early as 1827, New Brunswick’s Lieutenant-Govenor would receive Maliseets of the region on New Year’s Day. The Native guests would arrive in ceremonial dress, meet with provincial representatives, and exchange ceremonial dances - to the accompaniment of a military band. The Chief, or Sachum, at this time was Tomah Francis of Pilick (Kingsclear). He is pictured in this painting, standing in the right corner of the room, dressed in chief’s regalia with a blue peaked headdress.

Throughout this time period, Natives within New Brunswick were deeply concerned by the unchecked intrusion of squatters on their land. Their traditional territory was under constant pressure from settlers, and it was becoming harder and harder to pursue a traditional lifestyle. New settlers were arriving by the thousands each year, disasters such as the Great Miramichi Fire of 1825 destroyed traditional hunting grounds, and land speculators were creating huge ownership monopolies for lumber and cultivation. In many ways, Maliseets, Mi’kmaqs and Passamaquoddies became the “invisible people” and had little say over the government decisions affecting their lives. For Maliseets, the annual visits to Government House were an attempt to establish a formal dialogue with the sovereign’s representative: the Lieutenant-Governor.

Such visits were born out of a tradition of renewal which commenced with the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed by Maliseet, Mi'kmaq and Passamaquoddy chiefs at Annapolis Royal on June 4, 1726. In this treaty, commonly referred to as "Mascarene's Treaty of 1725", British authorities promised that Wabanaki " shall not be molested in their Person's, Hunting Fishing and Shooting & planting on their planting Ground nor in any other their Lawfull Occasions".

When Europeans first arrived in Atlantic Canada, they established a trade relationship with First Nations. In such a relationship, both sides considered themselves independent of the other and trade benefits were not the only reason for participation. There was also a belief that everything had a relationship with everything else. In the First Nation world-view, power lay in the ability to maintain many relationships and avert conflict. Such agreements recognized friendly relations between Nations and were based upon a shared understanding of mutual respect for each other's sovereignty. Like the seasons, these relations had to be renewed periodically.

The first recorded visit to Government House took place on January 1, 1827:

VISIT OF THE INDIAN CHIEFS, AND THEIR TRIBE,
To His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor.

On Monday last, after Morning Service at Christ church, the Indians, preceded by Tomer (sic) Francis and Mitchell Wallis, their Chiefs, called at Government House for the purpose of paying their respects to his Excellency, who in the presence of a large assemblage of Ladies and Gentlemen gave them a most flattering reception. His Excellency was dressed in full uniform, and attended by his suite, with the Lieutenant-Colonel and Officers of the 81st Regt, whose Band was also in attendance. The Indians were not so ungallant as to leave their Squaws behind them, and the whole tribe were plentifully regaled with cake and wine. His Excellency presented the Chiefs with a couple of handsome fowling pieces. The Commissioners for the Indians gave them a side of beef and a barrel of flour, with some other articles for their New Year’s entertainment; and really the grateful and happy countenances of the group, not a little brightened by the simpering of the Squaws and joying looks shot from their fine black eyes towards their Saunips, formed a truly gratifying, interesting scene.

(The Royal Gazette, January 9, 1827)

Lieutenant-Governor Sir Howard Douglas then reciprocated with a visit to the villages of Pilick (Kingsclear) and Medoctec (Meductic) three days later, where they, in turn, were received by Sachums Tomah Francis and Mitchell Wallis:

VISIT of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor
TO THE INDIAN CHIEFS, AND THEIR TRIBES
AT THE FRENCH VILLAGE

On Thursday last, at 10 o’clock A.M a number of Sleighs preceded by His Excellency, Sir Howard Douglas, Lady Douglas and family, attended by the Commissioners for Indian Affairs, and His Excellency’s suite, left Government House on a visit to the Indians at the French Village. On their arrival at a place within about half a mile of the Village, his Excellency and her Ladyship with the whole party, alighted from their Sleighs, and proceeded on foot through the woods, to the Winter Camp of the Indians; where the Indian Chiefs, Tomer (sic) Francis, and Mitchell Wallis, were waiting, dressed in full costume, to receive them. The Chiefs testified the highest satisfaction at the approach of His Excellency, who remained a considerable time in their tent conversing with them in the most affable and condescending manner. His Excellency and the party then visited several of the other tents; and after partaking of some refreshment prepared for them by the Chiefs, they returned to their Sleighs and proceeded to the Summer residence of the Indians on the banks of the river, where the whole tribe had again assembled, and received a salute on his Excellency’s arrival. They afterwards performed several of their national dances, much to the amusement and satisfaction of his Excellency and the party. Her Ladyship distributed presents of necklaces and beads, with a variety of other ornaments amongst the females who evinced their pleasure in receiving them, and were delighted at her Ladyship’s kind attention. About 3 o’clock the party preceded to return homewards, when the chief and the rest of the Indians escorted his Excellency to his Sleigh, who regarded(?) his perfect approbation of their grateful respect, and the kind reception they had given him and the other visitors. In returning the party partook of a collation at the house of George Leek, Esq. Among the Company we noticed the Secretary of the Province and Lady, The Hon. George Shore and Lady, The Hon. Thomas Baillie, Commissioner of Crown Lands, and Mrs Bartlet Ramsford – also the Hon. S.P. Hurd, Surveyor-General, The Venerable Archdeacon Best, and C.S. Putnam, esq., Commissioner of Indian Affairs – George, Charles, and Thos. Lee, and James Holbrooke Esq’s – several of the officers of the 81st Regiment, the Barrack Master, Dr. Woodford, Dr. Turner, &c, &c; and many other Ladies and Gentlemen. The Band of the 81st accompanied the Sleighs and played a variety of tunes at the village. The day was exceedingly fine.

(The Royal Gazette, January 9, 1827)

It is interesting to note that the Commissioner of Crown Lands, Thomas Baillie, and Surveyor-General, S. P. Hurd, were among the visiting dignitaries that day. Two months later, on March 1, 1827, Thomas Baillie, introduced a new system of disposing of crown lands in New Brunswick at public auction.

Tomah Francis was elected Sachum at Pilick (Kingsclear) on October 15, 1813. He remained Sachum until the 1850’s, and although his loyalties to the Crown were never unshaken, it was an extremely difficult time to be leader. The colonial government did not maintain any continuing contact with First Nations and First Nation land was under constant pressure from settlers. During the visit of 1830, Tomah Francis expressed concern over Native land rights:

In a brief reply through the medium of the Interpreter, the Sergum (sic) signified his satisfaction with all that had been said, but embraced the opportunity of enquiring “whether it was true, as some persons had told the Indians, that there (sic) lands were about to be taken from them?” They were assured that the report was idle and unfounded; entreated not to listen to the falso of mischievous people who only wished to make them unhappy, but if at any time they wanted information to seek it from the proper authorities; and advised to lose no time in bringing their lands into cultivation, as the surest method of securing them for their own possessions forever.               (The Royal Gazette, January 6, 1830).

Indeed, these concerns were not unfounded, for in the early 1840’s the province chose to regulate squatter’s rights by leasing First Nation land to them. In response, Tomah Francis presided over a full council at Pilick to protest this action. Maliseets, according to the resulting petition of January 10, 1843, wanted to become farmers, adopt “settled habits”, go to school, and “enjoy social blessings”… in short, they wanted only to enjoy the comforts of life. But they could not achieve any of this while their lands were being plundered daily. They requested to have control of their lands and to be able to hold them in common trust for shared benefit. Their plea went unheeded, however; and in 1850 Tomah Francis once again complained of encroachments on First Nation lands in Carleton County.

The annual visits to Government House continued to be recorded in The Royal Gazette until 1833. In the last newspaper report of 1841, Tomah Francis was publicly decorated with Queen Victoria’s coronation medal: “a splendid silver Medallion suspended by a blue Ribbon, exhibiting a beautiful effigy of our gracious Queen on the one side with the Royal Arms on the reverse” (The Royal Gazette, January 6, 1841). This was yet again another gesture of relationship renewal with the Crown. The medal itself was passed down from generation to generation through the sachums of Pilick and was worn by William Polchies when he was photographed in 1930 .

It is said that of the Maliseets, only the sachum living at Kingsclear, Tomah Francis, was given such a medal.

(prepared by: Cynthia Wallace-Casey, March 23, 2006)


© 2006, Province of New Brunswick. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Learners will understand the significance of such ceremonial occasions in the relationship between First Nations peoples and the British Crown.

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