Methodological Issues In Paylist Analysis

By Theresa A. Ferguson(1) & Neil Reddekopp


The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the Indian annuity paylists as a source for reconstructing Aboriginal population. Our particular experience involves cases of treaty land entitlement (TLE) where it is necessary to reconstruct the population of an Indian Band for the year in which its’ reserves were first surveyed. Paylists have been considered generally valid for this purpose and remain the major tool for reconstructing band population, but they are subject to different types of errors. Evaluation through checking internal consistency and through comparison with other sources of population data is necessary, but can in turn raise further methodological issues.

The following analysis focuses on the Treaty Eight annuity paylists of the Lesser Slave Lake Agency, 1899-1945. What will be discussed in the paper is as follows:

i) the role of paylist data in reconstructing population for treaty land entitlement analysis;

ii) the process of creating the paylist and the associated annuity payment and membership files;

iii) the format of the annuity paylist and the population data provided therein, including the types of inaccuracies or confusions introduced unintentionally or at least without the intention of fraud;

iv) non-departmental sources which can be used to correct errors in the family history data provided by the paylists;

v) and a discussion of specific kinds of errors introduced intentionally by one particular Indian agent.

Paylists And Treaty Land Entitlement Methodology

Paylists are the main source of information used to identify Band members who are potentially eligible for the treaty land entitlement count. The 1983 Guidelines for TLE analysis define a number of relevant categories:

  • •Persons who were paid with the Band at the annuity payment just preceding the date of the first survey (DOFS) of the Band’s reserves;
  • •Persons who were paid prior to that year, were absent for that year, and who returned in subsequent years;
  • •Persons who joined the Band after the DOFS as late adherents to treaty. This category includes Aboriginal Non-treaty women who married Band members.
  • •Persons who joined the Band after the DOFS as transfers from landless Bands. 


These categories are all derived from the face of the paylist. Although these categories are scrutinized for persons who had received land entitlement either through treaty or Metis scrip prior to the DOFS of the Band in question, the paylist data has been generally viewed as valid. The TLE guidelines themselves do recognize that there may be certain problems in the paylist data but suggested strategies for dealing with these do not go beyond an evaluation of the internal consistency of the paylist and comparison with the associated annuity and membership files. Other federal research guidelines, however, do recommend the use of other sources to cross check population data.(2)

Creating The Paylist

Every year during the annuity payment, the Indian Agent created a paylist, based on instructions attached to the paysheets. The presence of instructions, however, could not make up for the difficulty of creating a paylist for a population whom the Agent may have seen only once a year. In some cases, we know the Agent consulted with the local priest over births and deaths as well as with the Band members.

The Agent made corrections to the paylist as he created it, noting for instance, that in the previous year’s record the gender of the children was incorrect or that a child had been born. At times however the need just to reconcile the records took precedence over accuracy and the reconciliation was achieved through erroneous information. We’ll return to this point later on.

The Annuity Files

Ottawa also reviewed the paylists for internal consistency. This correspondence is contained in the annuity files. Inconsistencies were brought to the attention of the Agent who was required to provide explanations/corrections. Detailed accounts of family history were often involved in the justification for payment of arrears. The annuity paylists available to researchers appear to be the corrected copies. Paylists could be revisited over the years, presumably by the Ottawa clerks. It is not uncommon to find notes added to paylists about events of a much later date, for example, the return date of an absentee to the band or the date a woman commuted.

Membership Files

The membership files also provide more information on persons identified on the paylists. These files deal with persons who transfer from other bands, who are new adherents to treaty or who wish to withdraw from treaty. Paylists often cite specific items of correspondence involving these individuals and these items are found in the membership file. A considerable amount of data may be provided for these persons, but aside from the membership files already microfilmed and generally available such files are increasingly considered confidential. Even the Bands themselves may be denied access to these files in order to protect information about individuals.

In summary then, there is the paylist itself which is of use in reconstructing population and two sets of associated files, annuity and membership which deal very closely with that same information and which can serve to expand or correct data available on the paylist.

Treaty Eight Paylists: Information and Inferences

Figure 1 is a sample paylist, indicating the types of information provided by this source as follows:

  • -Band name
  • -Place and date of annuity payment
  • -Band number of family
  • -Family name
  • -Arrears paid (# persons; amount paid; year for which paid)
  • -Nuclear family composition (man/woman/boys/girls)
  • -Additional household members (male/female)
  • -Total persons paid
  • -Total amount paid
  • -Number of persons paid the previous year
  • -Signature of recipient
  • -Remarks (transfers to and from other band numbers or to and from other bands were noted here)
  • -Indian not paid last year who have returned
  • -Indians absent this year, paid last year
  • -Deaths (men, women, boys, girls)
  • -Births (boys, girls)

[Editor’s Note:
Figure not available in on-line edition]


Figure 1. Sample Paylist. Duncan’s Band, Peace River, 1900.


A variation on the above was the census paylist which attempted to list individual names and ages for all family members. In Treaty Eight, the first census paylist appeared in 1939 and the second in 1942. Working back from a census paylist is also useful in resolving problems on the earlier years of the paylist.

At the end of the paylist, the Agent provided two summaries. The first summary outlined the difference between the number of persons paid the previous year and the number paid in the current year according to the reason (death, absence, birth, transfers out and in). The second summary detailed how the funds were expended, noting amount paid for arrears and the total amounts paid for each of three rates of annuity (chief’s rate; headman’s rate; standard rate).

Figure 2 provides a fictitious individual band number profile. This profile is created by the researcher and is an essential recasting of paylist data to show family history and genealogy for one band number. It also allows the researcher to pinpoint errors much more easily. The information included on this is the band name, band number, family name, family composition by year and a space for any remarks from other paylist columns. This is where data from the arrears column, birth and deaths columns, remarks columns etc. would be duplicated. Square brackets enclose the researcher’s own notes. This example shows that the paylist did not explain discrepancies. One might also use the brackets to include information provided from elsewhere, eg. a baby’s name and full birth date.

Our analysis of the paylist will be restricted to examining inferences concerning population and commenting on types of errors commonly found in the paylists. Most of the comments involve inconsistencies in the earlier years in treatment of changes in individual status, eg. transfer to a new number, births etc. Practices were much more standardized by the 1940’s.


Band Name

Delineating the social group is the first step in population reconstruction and the named Band is one indicator. Indeed, this is the significant social group as far as TLE analysis is concerned.

[Editor’s Note:
Figure not available in on-line edition]


Figure 2. Fictitious Individual Band Number Profile

Nonetheless, it cannot be assumed that any particular Indian Band as constructed by Indian Affairs was perceived by the Aboriginal population as one entire social group. For instance, in the Treaty Eight area, both treaty and Metis persons might constitute the local population. Continuing intermarriage between the two statuses is one indicator of the self-identification of the population. An example would be the relationship between the Calling Lake group of the Bigstone Band who intermarried extensively with a specific group of Metis families. Both of these groups had come previously from Lac la Biche. Indeed, Laird used this rationale to include in the Lesser Slave Lake bands many persons who were descended from men who had taken scrip and women who had been in Treaty. (3)

Conversely, an Indian Band may be constructed from a number of different local populations. The Bigstone Band can also be used to exemplify this since it includes the Wabasca Lakes people; the Trout Lakes and area people; the Chipewyan Lake people and the Calling Lake area people. In determining a social group for a less arbitrary purpose than TLE, community statements of self-identification, patterns of marriage, of band amalgamation and splitting are all significant.

Band Number Of Family

Treaty Eight was the most recent of the treaties signed in Alberta and its band numbering system does not exhibit the inconsistencies of the earlier treaties. Numbers were not reused and new numbers were added for new adherents and to mark changes in status for existing band members. Such transfers occurred commonly when a child matured and/or married but also occurred upon a marital split or perhaps if a widow married out of the band, the children of the late husband might be given a number of their own.

Age and marital status are the two main criteria for eligibility for transfer of a child to their own band number. In later years all persons, male or female, were transferred automatically to new numbers upon attaining their majority. However, in the earlier years, girls tended to transfer only upon marriage and adult males often stayed on their father’s number until they too married, in some cases even beyond that time(4).

Girls transferred upon marriage to the band number of their husband, if he were Treaty. In the case of a non-Indian husband, the procedure was inconsistent in the early years. Specific cases show a range from the unexplained disappearance of such a woman from the treaty paylists(5) to the continuation of the woman on the paylist and the inclusion of her children(6). Eventually women who entered into marriage with non-Treaty individuals were transferred to a new number which excluded her children by the non-Treaty marriage. The assumption was that these women would soon commute.

Procedures for handling cases where daughters had borne children but not formed a household with a man also changed over the years. In later years, these women and their infants were transferred from their father’s number to new numbers, but in earlier years the infant might not be recorded at all(7); or s/he might be added to the family on the mother’s parents’ number. Thus, the child would be represented as the child of the grandparents.(8) Births which appear late in a marriage should always be looked at twice. In some cases the child’s actual birth was not recorded in any way on the paylist, but he or she would suddenly appear when the mother transferred onto a new number with a recognized husband. The child’s appearance was then explained as a birth(9). This statement reconciled the paylist in the sense that the child was now accounted for, but it introduced error by implying a later birthdate and in some cases a different biological father.

Family Name

The name appearing on the paylist is that of the head of household, usually the male. This name could continue to appear even after the death of the man, although eventually the term ‘widow of’ or ‘children of’ might be added. This family name might be written consistently, but occasionally variants or nicknames or translations might be added. Tracing links between families based on a surname is complicated by the recording of sons by their own names. An example of this would be in the family of Joseph Kapizecom or Bigstone, also known as Capotvert. Some of his sons took the names of Bigstone and Capotvert but others took different names such as Crow and Young.


Family Composition

These columns specify the composition of what the Agent thought was the nuclear family. As noted before, some of these children might actually be adults; some might be grandchildren born to an unmarried daughter. Births, deaths and transfers to other numbers were the common reasons for changes in these numbers.

One of the most common errors in the early years involved the wrong gender for a newborn. Often, the phrase ‘A boy counted as girl’ or the reverse appears on the paylist to correct an error made in previous years or a change in gender is made without any accompanying comment. However, the paylists occasionally reconciled such errors by noting a death and a birth.(10) This method of reconciliation completely obscures important population data.


Additional Household Members

These columns simply specify gender without specifying adult/child status. Individuals appearing in this column usually included widowed female relatives, who were often widowed daughters with their offspring. Sometimes they represent adopted children transferring from another number. Eventually these children might be integrated into the boy/girl columns of the nuclear family composition.(11) Occasionally adopted children are not accounted for in this column at all but appear as births to the family.(12)


This column is responsible for providing data on all changes in the nuclear family and additional household member columns. It did happen in the early years in Treaty Eight that inconsistencies might not be explained at all. The ‘remarks’ column is also used to note absences and occasionally where the person is during their absence. After 1937 this column was also used to note at what location individual families were paid.


Census Paylists

These paylists provide much useful information on family composition, including personal names and birth dates. Nonetheless, the birth dates are frequently guesses and the names in Aboriginal languages may undergo revision at the hands of the writer.


Cross-Referencing with Church Records

In working with the Treaty 8 paylist for TLE claims, it has been necessary to go beyond the paylist data and the associated files and try to confirm family histories by reference to other sources, including church records, Vital Statistics and community/family records. Each of these sets of records involves issues of confidentiality and access and each needs to be evaluated itself as to the validity of the information offered. Since we’ve worked mostly with church records, we’ll restrict our comments to these documents.

The church records are excellent for confirming at least approximate birthdates, marriage dates and family connections. For the Lesser Slave Lake area, there are both Roman Catholic and Anglican records of baptisms, marriages and funerals. The Roman Catholic records offer greater time depth and coverage of a larger congregation. There is also an advantage to the researcher that women are identified by their original family name, not by their married name. This is not true of the Anglican records. The Roman Catholic clergy also revisited their records, noting subsequent marriages or funerals on the baptismal record. Some persons were served by both the Anglican and Roman Catholic clergy and their names, perhaps with some variation, can be found in both records. One tremendous loss for certain family histories was the destruction of the Anglican records at Wabasca by fire in the 1920’s.

Baptisms, marriages and funerals are not equally represented in the early church records. Baptisms and marriages took place when the priest was visiting the community, but the death of a person and the disposition of their body could not be planned. Funerals tend to be noted only for those persons who died near the mission and whose body could be taken there. There is an occasional reference to the priest’s blessing tombs of the recently deceased in outlying communities, but for the most part these interments went unrecorded by the clergy.

The church records can also introduce an element of confusion by expanding the possibility for variations in names. These variations occur in the following ways:

1. a person may be given a completely different name in the church record than in the paylist. This tends to happen where the Agent has tried to record the Aboriginal name, but the church is using a Christian name and a common surname, by which the individual may also be known. It’s not clear if priests ever simply assigned surnames.

2. Names are translated into different languages. In the Lesser Slave Lake area, Cree, French, English and Latin are used in the church records. So the name Crow might also appear as Corbeau, Kakaku and Corvus.

3. Shifts in linguistic features of names occur as a result of this multilingual setting. So for instance, Bella appears as a short form for Pelagie; Duffield evolves from Theophile; and Chilouis evolves from Tit Louis, the short form of Petit Louis.

4. Shifts in family names also occurred as sons’ own names were recorded as family names, as opposed to the names of their fathers. The example of the Bigstone, Capotverts has already been noted.

5. Persons may be given different baptismal names, if they are baptized more than once.

6. Persons may be assigned variously the surnames of their father, their mother or a stepfather.

The Specific Case Of The Laird Frauds

In addition to the confusion introduced inadvertently as a result of the circumstances discussed above, the factual accuracy of paylists for the Lesser Slave Lake Agency suffered from the fact that, for at least seven years, and probably longer, paylists for the Agency were deliberately falsified by the resident Indian Agent in a manner which artificially inflated the recorded population of First Nations within the Agency. This took place during the latter part of Harold Laird’s tenure as Indian Agent.

The name Laird enjoys considerable prominence in the history of the Department of Indian Affairs. As Minister of the Interior in the government of Alexander Mackenzie, David Laird was one of the negotiators at the time of the signing of Treaty 4 in 1874(13) and introduced the first Indian Act in Parliament in 1876.(14) During his tenure (1876-1881) as Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba and the North West Territories,(15) Laird acted as the senior Treaty Commissioner at the negotiation of Treaty 7 at Blackfoot Crossing in 1877,(16) and he repeated this role at the signing of Treaty 8 in 1899.(17) For the purposes of this analysis, however, the most relevant action in David Laird’s long public life occurred in 1909, when, in the waning years of the Laurier administration, he took advantage of the fact that patronage played a large part in the selection of Indian Agents(18) to secure the appointment of his youngest son Harold as Assistant Indian Agent for the Lesser Slave Lake Agency.(19)

Harold Laird was in many ways the ‘black sheep’ of his very prominent family. Unlike his father, who served as a cabinet minister, a Lieutenant Governor and Indian Commissioner(20) or his older brother Gordon, who received a doctorate in Latin and Greek and became a Professor of Classics at a prestigious American university,(21) Harold found it difficult to settle on a career. He attempted to study law, but abandoned the effort, and appears to have only gained some form of permanent employment when he acted as an informal ‘aide’ to his father when the latter served as Indian Commissioner.(22) While nominally Harold Laird was appointed as the assistant to Indian Agent W.B.L. Donald, the latter’s poor health meant that Laird was responsible for much of the Agency’s work, particularly the extensive travelling involved in the payment of annuities as far afield as Fort Vermilion.

There was (and still is) considerable difference of opinion regarding Harold Laird’s conduct of his job. His superiors in Ottawa made persistent complaints about Laird’s repeated failure to obtain and forward information requested by Indian Affairs.(23) This may have played a role in the apparent reluctance to promote Laird, for, although Dr. Donald retired in 1916, Laird was still referred to as Assistant Indian Agent (or, at best, Acting Indian Agent) for another decade. Whatever faults his bureaucratic superiors found with Laird, his personality and demeanour were viewed more favourably by the First Nations people he met in the course of his work. Elders consistently remember Laird with far more affection than that afforded Naploeon L’Heuruex, his austere and stern successor.(24) But whatever differences exist with regard to Laird’s personality and competence, there are two facts that are not in dispute – he definitely was a thief, and the vehicle which he chose to mask his theft was record of annuity payments for the Lesser Slave Lake Agency.

Laird’s fraudulent activities took three main forms;

    • failing to report deaths and purporting to continue payments
    • recording the creation of tickets for children upon reaching adulthood as entries into Treaty, which meant that when a new ticket was created, there was no corresponding decrease in the family size of the subject’s parents
    • entering on the paylists and purporting to make payments to persons whom either never existed or whom lived in isolated areas and had not entered Treaty.


The type of fraud utilized depended to a large extent on the geographic location of a band within the Lesser Slave Lake Agency. In the more ‘settled’ areas near Lesser Slave Lake or the Peace River, reports of late adherents to treaty by significant numbers of persons would not be credible, and Laird was for the most part restricted to under-reporting deaths.

The situation was different in the ‘isolated communities’ north of Lesser Slave Lake and Wabasca and northwest of High Level. Laird had visited the first of these areas in 1911, shortly after his appointment as Acting Indian Agent, and he encountered a substantial non-treaty population, particularly around the lakes north of Peerless Lake.(25) The ‘discovery’ of this population was hardly surprising. In 1900, Treaty Commissioner J.A. Macrae reported that, after two summers of treaty making, the treaty commissioners had been unable to meet with about 500 persons residing in the interior between the valleys of the Athabasca and Peace Rivers.(26) Laird’s suggestion that the people met by him be taken into treaty was rejected by the Department of Indian Affairs,(27) but in 1922 the Department, upon the recommendation of a local missionary, authorized Laird to take into treaty the residents of the isolated communities north of Lesser Slave Lake.(28) The relationship between this decision and the fraud committed in the years that followed will be discussed below.

Ironically, Laird’s eventual conviction for theft of government monies was not (initially at least), occasioned by any of his more common practices, but rather by his fraudulent activities related to fictitious commutations of annuity. Under s. 14 of the 1906 Indian Act (and the same section of the 1927 Indian Act), Indian women who married non-Indians forfeited all of their rights as Indians except for the rights to share in the payment of annuities, a right which could be commuted upon the payment of a sum equal to ten years of annuities.

After Laird retired at age 58 in 1930 complaining of poor health,(29) two women from the Lesser Slave Lake area complained to his successor that after receiving annuity payments for several years following their marriages to non-Indians, the payments ceased without explanation. They expressly denied having made any application for commutation of their annuity. An investigation by the Department of Indian Affairs revealed that the documents requesting commutation payments and confirming receipt of these payments had been forged by Laird and B. A. Scovill, his clerk.(30)

Justice in the 1930s was quick and sharp. Laird was arrested on February 13, 1934 and charged with theft of government monies. Before he appeared in court in High Prairie the next day, he had confessed to forging the commutation documents and added, for good measure, that between the beginning of 1924 and the end of 1930, he had stolen $4,100.00 by having falsified Treaty Pay Lists, showing Indians as having been paid whereas it was ascertained that these particular Indians were either deceased or had never existed. After his guilty plea, Laird was sentenced to three years imprisonment.(31)

Even before Laird’s arrest, revisions in the annuity paylists had ameliorated some of the factual inaccuracies introduced by the fraud. A total of 192 persons purportedly paid in 1930 were reported as absent in 1931 and dropped from the paylists in subsequent years.(32) The number of names removed from the list varied from place to place, from a low of three names for Duncan’s Band and four at Swan River to 60 for the Bigstone Band. In terms of overall percentage, the reported population of the Agency in 1930, the last year in which Laird paid annuities, was reduced by about 6.5%.

These corrections did have the effect of reversing most of the inaccuracies introduced by Laird in the paylists of bands in the area around Lesser Slave Lake and along the middle Peace River. But in more isolated bands, confusion remained for more than another decade. Some names remained on the lists throughout the 1930s, during the latter part of which the relevant entries included the phrase last paid in 1932″ (itself confusing since in most cases the last reported payment had been in 1930).

Final corrections were not made until investigation of 1942. In that year 45 names were dropped as being long dead, in some cases as far back as the 1918 flu epidemic or earlier, 36 entries were described as being fictitious from the start, 51 names were dropped as duplicates of other numbers (most duplications were within the same band but in some cases the same name was entered with two bands), and 59 names were dropped as unknown.(33) Of the 191 names removed in 1942 (only one fewer than the number removed a decade earlier), 155 related to the relatively isolated Dene Tha, Bigstone, Whitefish Lake and Little Red River Bands).

What then are the consequences of Laird’s fraud for various types of research? Certainly a researcher doing population studies relating to bands within the Lesser Slave Lake Agency in the 1920s would do well to take into account that population figures for the Agency were inflated by about one-eighth. Individuals conducting family histories may have difficulty determining the precise death dates for their ancestors if the latter’s names remained on paylists for a considerable length of time after their deaths. However, this problem is hardly unique to this situation, as the under-reporting of deaths is one of the most common problems bedevilling genealogical researchers. Studies on other topics, such as the extent of the 1918 influenza epidemic, could also be affected by the lack of reference to deaths on the paylists.

From a land claims perspective, the effect of the fraud is localized, affecting only research into a handful of settled, ongoing or potential claims. In treaty land entitlement research, the retention of persons on the paylist of a band after death is of little consequence, although the effect of this on a surrender claim can be decisive if the effect is to inflate artificially the number of potential voters in a surrender vote.

The fraudulent recording of fictitious adherents to treaty is far more important in treaty land entitlement cases, as post survey adherents are the most obvious (and numerically the largest) category of persons which increase a band’s treaty land entitlement. The effect of this type of fraud will vary depending upon the circumstances of individual bands. Taking as examples four ‘high impact’ bands (Dene Tha, Little Red River, Whitefish Lake and Bigstone), the effects differ dramatically. A modicum of care should ensure that research into the Dene Tha claim is not skewed by fraud, since its effects had been eradicated by 1942, four years before the survey of reserves. The validity of the treaty land entitlement claim of the Little Red River Band will turn upon questions of law rather than fact, and will have little relevance to the issue of paylist analysis. The effect of fraudulent entries played some role in the analysis of the Whitefish Lake treaty land entitlement claim, which was settled in 1990, and will be of considerable importance in the analysis of the Bigstone treaty land entitlement claim, which is ongoing. The effect of two types of fictitious adhesions are set out below.

The description of transfers from one ticket to another as adherents can be significant in treaty land entitlement research if the entry occurs after the date of first survey and the person described as an adherent in the fraudulent entry was present at the date of first survey or was the descendant of persons who were present. The most effective way to avoid errors based on these fictitious adhesions is to gain additional information concerning the identity of all members of a band at date of first survey, not just the names of the family head in whose name the ticket had been issued. The application of this analysis led to the discovery that nine of the 45 post survey additions to the membership of the Whitefish Lake Band were in fact members of families present at the date of first survey, and preliminary analysis suggests that approximately 50 of the 381 post survey additions to the population of the Bigstone Band could be characterized similarly.

The most significant research problem results from the purported entry of non-existent persons on the ‘double count’ which would result from the supposed entry of a family in the 1920s and their actual entry in the 1930s. While of little practical consequence in the Whitefish Lake case (only one case was encountered), the consequences for the Bigstone claim are more significant. In the eight years (1922-1930) following the decision to take residents of the ‘isolated communities’ into treaty, 117 persons, described as residents of Chipewyan Lake, Trout Lake or Long Lake (north of Peerless Lake) were taken into treaty from and placed on the annuity list of the Bigstone Band.(34) Of these late adherents, 39 (exactly one-third) may represent fraudulent entries on the Bigstone paylist. In some cases, the very existence of the alleged adherents is questionable. But in most cases, the people named as adherents actually existed and lived in the ‘isolated communities’, but they had not in fact elected to accept the benefits of treaty. It would not be until the 1930s when, after a severe decline in income which resulted from the virtual collapse of the fur trade, the residents of the ‘isolated communities’ chose to adhere to Treaty 8. Thus, for example, Laird recorded the adhesion of the same family from Long Lake in 1923(35) and 1928,(36) and two other families described as 1923 adherents from the same place(37) in fact adhered in 1936(38) and 1938(39) respectively.

In claims research, the effect of the fraud can be lessened by following all paylist entries through until at least 1942, and as much genealogical data as possible should be collected from other less tainted sources regarding both the date of first survey population and post survey additions to a band’s population. Analysis is assisted by the fact that the pattern of Laird’s fraud is noticeable and quite consistent. Evidence of such fraud includes:

a) long periods throughout the 1920s with neither births nor deaths recorded;

b) the retention of children on a ticket right up to 1930 even though no births are recorded for 20 years or more;

c) above all, the suspension of payments after Laird’s replacement.

In most cases the effect of undiscovered fraud will tend to inflate populations. But an overreaction can be prejudicial to bands, especially if the result is an overly skeptical frame of mind which treats any confusion with regard to paylists as evidence of fraud. This is not to say, however, that examples of Laird’s fraud can be limited to the years (1924-1930) mentioned in his confession. Clearly, the fact that it was later discovered that names remained on the paylist even though the person named died in 1918 or earlier suggests fraudulent entries were made somewhat earlier than 1924, and a few fictitious adhesions appear on the paylists in 1923.

The widespread fraud in the maintenance of paylists for the Lesser Slave Lake Agency introduces an additional challenge to paylist analysis, which is already a difficult (as well as occasionally mind-numbing) task. But an awareness of the signs of such fraud and appropriate methods of compensating for it can prevent the fictitious entries from introducing significant errors into this type of research.



1It is with the gracious permission of Specific Claims, Indian Affairs that Theresa Ferguson publishes these comments which are based on her experience as a contract researcher for Specific Claims West. This article is not to be construed as representing the opinions of Specific Claims, Indian Affairs.

2McCardle, Bennett. 1982. Indian History and Claims: A Research Handbook. Treaties and Historical Research Centre, Research Branch, Indian and Northern Affairs, Canada.

3RG 10 Volume 6920 File 777/28-3, pt. 2, Laird to Asst. Deputy Secretary, November 28, 1924.

4. eg. No. 105, Bigstone Band.

5eg. No. 69, Bigstone Band.

6eg. No. 15, Bigstone Band.

7eg. No. 46, Bigstone Band.

8eg. No. 15, Sucker Creek Band.

9eg. No. 21, Sucker Creek Band.

10eg. No. 62, Bigstone Band.

11eg. No. 200, Bigstone Band.

12eg. No. 11, Sucker Creek Band.

13Morris, Alexander. The Treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories (Toronto: Belford’s, Clarke, 1880), p. 78.

  14Chalmers, John W. Laird of the West, (Calgary: Detselig, 1981), p. 32.

15Ibid., p. 193.

16Supra., note 4, p. 245.

17Mair, Charles. Through the Mackenzie Basin: A Narrative of the Athabasca and Peace River Treaty Expedition of 1899 (Toronto: William Briggs, 1908), p. 24.

18Martin-McGuire, Peggy. First Nation Land Surrenders on the Prairies, 1896-1911 (Ottawa: Indian Claims Commission, 1998), p. 13.

19PAC, RG 10, Volume 3849, File 75236-1B.

20Supra. Note 14, , p. 209.

21Ibid., p. 163.

22Ibid., pp. 208, 251.

23For one example, see W. M. Graham, Indian Commissioner to D. C. Scott, Deputy Superintendent Genral of Indian Affairs, October 6, 1919. PAC, RG 10, Volume 7325, File 26131-3.

24While there are numerous references to within the oral histories compiled by the Indian Association of Alberta in the 1970s, the most recent reference was in a conversation between one of the authors and Duncan’s First Nation elder John Testawits on May 29, 1999.

25Laird, Harold. Assistant Indian Agent to Secretary, Department of Indian Affairs, October 30, 1911. PAC, RG 10, Volume 3979, File 156710-31.

26Madill, Dennis. Treaty Research Report: Treaty Eight (Ottawa: Treaties and Historical Research Centre, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 1986), p. 47.

27Supra., note 16.

28Y. M. Floc’h, omi to Charles Stewart, Superintendent Genaral of Indian Affairs, April 5, 1922. PAC, RG 10, Volume 7972, File 62-131, Part 1.

29OCPC 2766, November 29, 1930.

30Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Report on Conclusion of Case, February 20, 1934. Alberta Justice, Central Registry.


32Annuity paylists, Lesser Slave Lake Agency, 1930-1933. DIAND, Genealogical Research Unit.

33Annuity paylists, Lesser Slave Lake Agency, 1939, 1942. DIAND, Genalogical Research Unit.

34Annuity paylists, Bigstone Band, 1923-1938. DIAND, Genalogical Research Unit.

35Annuity paylist, Bigstone Band, 1923. DIAND, Genealogical Research Unit (Number 176).

36Annuity paylist, Bigstone Band, 1928. DIAND, Genealogical Research Unit (Number 213).

37Supra., note 26 (Numbers 177 and 178).

38Annuity paylist, Bigstone Band, 1936. DIAND, Genealogical Research Unit (Number 322).

39Annuity paylist, Bigstone Band, 1938. DIAND, Genealogical Research Unit (Number 336).