Conducting research on my Indigenous ancestors has always posed a challenge for me. Limits to records—their availability, ease of access, and even their existence has made research much slower.
I’ve had very little success with Saskatchewan’s vital statistics records and hit or miss success with census records which have aided me the most in my research. Knowing very little about my Indigenous ancestors at the start of my genealogy journey meant I had to rely on what I could find but that means there are inaccuracies and mysteries abound.
This past year I decided to try searching Treaty annuity records to see if I can find more information on this part of my family. What a treasure trove! Although limited in their capacity, I discovered so much which hadn’t known before 2019.
Only a portion of Treaty annuity records have been digitized, till 1909, and there is still leg-work required to go through the microfilm to locate the right reserve.
It was by browsing through these records that I discovered Marie Adele Lerat (1888-???) was not my grandfather’s biological mother, but his step-mother.
I’ve had a suspicion that this was the case but had no proof to confirm. It does account for the name changes in census records as well as for the gap between my grandfather Napoleon Pelletier (1905-1985) and his brother Robert Louis Pelletier (1915-2001).
The list of Treaty annuity list reels is here:
Here’s a blog post which identifies what Treaties and years are covered on each digitized reel:
In the 1895, band member #46 of Cowessess, Hyacinth Pelletier (1849-1906) had a son who married the daughter of band member #13. At this time, Hyacinth and his wife drew an annuity payment. It also states that one grandson died sometime after the previous year’s payment.
The newly married couple would draw from #157. Here we see Joseph Pelletier (1876-???) and an ‘unnamed’ wife. Her name was Marie Caroline Aisaican (1878-1909).
Caroline’s (1878-1909) father was Aisaican (English=Clarified Maple Sugar). In the 1905 census records I found the Aisaican family listed as Sparvier. Sparvier is also the surname used for Caroline in some of the Baptisms records.
In 1895, Aisaican (1830-???) had a wife, a son, and two daughters living on reserve with him. One of his sons, William Aisaican (1876-???), married the daughter of #126 and he also had one son who was living at Turtle Mountain. There were also a number of Pelletiers who traveled back and forth to Turtle Mountain.
In the 1901 census, Joseph (1876-???) and Caroline (1878-1909) can be found living with two daughters: Marie Sarah (1897-???) and Marie Josephine (1899-1984). The family had already suffered the loss of two children, an unnamed boy who was born and died in 1896 and Mary Jane who was born and died in 1901.
It’s interesting to note that Caroline (1878-1909) is listed as Saulteaux while Joseph (1876-???) is listed as French. In other records he’s listed as a ‘French-Breed’ and ‘Cree’. Further research informed me he is a descendent of a Red River Métis family, but that is a post for another day.
The family is found again in the 1906 records. This is the first record my grandfather is recorded in. It also lists his sisters Marie Sarah (1897-???), Marie Josephine (1899-1984), and Marie Louise (1903-???). Too bad there is not much else recorded in this census.
Although I have yet to find any information of Caroline’s death, it’s recorded in the 1909 Treaty annuity list. In this record, we see Joseph has one son and three daughters living on reserve with him. Additionally, there is a mark at the opposite end of the document which shows one woman died between the last annuity payment and this one.
Interestingly enough, Joseph (1876-???) married Philomène Daniel (1888-before 1915) on July 20th, 1909. I found their marriage record but have been unable to find a date of death for Philomène. As far as I am aware at this time, Joseph and Philomène did not have any children, at least, none that lived past infancy. I don’t have much information Philomène and must conduct more research.
The family can be found in the 1911 census records. All of Joseph’s children from his previous marriage can be found: Marie Sarah, Marie Josephine, Marie Louise, and Napoleon. Additionally, although the document states Hyacinth (1949-1906) is living with them, this is incorrect. Hyacinth died in 1906, this is recorded in the 1906 Treaty annuity payment list. Thus it is Julienne LaVallee (1853-???), his mother!
Sometime after Philomène’s death, Joseph (1876-???) married Marie Adele Lerat (1888-???). I’ve identified three children by Adele: Robert Louis (1915-2001), Theresa Elizabeth (1916-2005), and Marie (1920-???).
Adele (1888-???) and family can be found in the 1916 census where only Robert (1915-2001) is listed with his mother and father. The other children are either at residential school or married.
In the 1921 census, Joseph Pelletier (1876-???) is listed with his children Marie Josephine (1899-1984), Marie Louise (1903-???), Napoleon (1905-1985), Robert (1915-2001), and Marie (1920-???). Adele (1888-???), however, is missing from this record unless they mistakenly recorded her as 1-year-old daughter.
In the 1926 census, Joseph (1876-???) and his wife, I am unable to decipher the name though I imagine it is Adele (1888-???). Also living with them is Napoleon (1905-1985) and Julienne LaVallee (1853-???). The other children Robert (1915-2001) and Theresa (1916-2005) can be found at the Cowessess residential school. There is no mention of Marie (1920-???) who either died before the 1926 census or was mistakenly recorded in the 1921 census.
In any case, this is just some of the information I have been able to unearth in the last year alone thanks to the Treaty annuity list.