The first session of the Northwest Council, in March 1873, passed three ordinances. No. word was received from Ottawa. The proceedings were mislaid in Prime Minister Macdonald's office for six months. The Council learned in October that only one ordinance had been approved.
The new council was smaller with representatives elected on the basis of one member. per 1,000 voters per 1,000 square miles. It could pass ordinances without prior authority from Ottawa, but it had no power to levy taxes. School districts depended entirely on local support. The capital of the Territories at that time had moved from Winnipeg, to Battleford, which was linked by telegraph to both Edmonton and Winnipeg. The Lieutenant-Governorships of Manitoba and the Territories were separated. The Territories' first Lieutenant-Governor was David Laird (1876-1881).
On the Council half-breeds were ignored. This was felt by many to be most unjust and a prelude to trouble. Lord Dufferin, Governor-General, while on an official visit to Manitoba in 1877, said that the half-breeds were the ambassadors between East and West, and were indispensable at Indian Treaty negotiations.