Before mass settlement occurred in Western Canada at the turn of the twentieth century, Indigenous people used treaty monetization and town spending to subvert the very forces of liberalism encouraged with the expansion of a colonial market economy. After 1880, the Cree of Treaty 6, in particular, chose to collectively spend their annuities in new towns to support traditional dances and ceremonies and, especially, to join together in large multiband gatherings. Despite increasingly restrictive government policies, particularly the pass system that limited Indigenous movement beyond reserves, town “Treaty Days” spending only declined in prevalence in the late 1890s when treaty annuities began quickly losing their extraordinary spending power.

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