09/30/2014 07:30 EDT | Updated 11/30/2014 05:59 EST

Rare Treaty Four medal returns to Sask. First Nations

A rare Treaty Four medal, presented to chiefs who took part in the historic agreement of 1874, is back in Saskatchewan after being discovered at an auction in Ontario.

The medal was sold as part of an estate sale.

It was acquired by Paula Acoose and her husband Ray McCallum, who were alerted to the medal being available by a Saskatchewan man who was researching lost treaty medals and noticed the item online.

Once word got around that the medal was available, people had to move quickly to arrange to get it as the auction was set to take place Sept. 20, just a few days after it was spotted.

Rather than lose the opportunity, Acoose said she and her husband stepped up to provide the necessary funds.

"We had some personal funds that we had saved and we decided to attend the auction," she explained Monday at the airport in Regina where the medal's return was greeted by a group of Treaty Four people.

Five bidders active at sale

The couple paid $40,000 (plus a 15 per cent fee) to secure the medal. Acoose said they were up against four other bidders who were interested in the item.

When the auction closed, with Acoose having won the bid, she said she left the room briefly overcome with emotion.

"We left the room ... and cried and hugged each other in the hallway," she said. Acoose said she later learned that the medal was so unique, no one could recall the last time a Treaty Four medal was up for auction.

Acoose and her husband were part of a small group that brought the medal to Regina, to be given to Treaty Four nations who have pledged to raise money to cover the Acoose's outlay for the medal.

"It feels like a long-lost relative has come home," Acoose said, of the experience of having the item back in Treaty Four territory.

On Monday, September 29, 2014, a long-lost Treaty Four medal, one of only 21 original medals presented to each Chief who entered into treaty on September 15, 1874, will be returning to Treaty Four territory.

According to research done about the medal, it was part of a private collection amassed by Robert Band who died about a year ago. 

Treaty medals were made as presentation gifts to chiefs. The medal brought to Regina is one of only 21 original medals presented to each chief who entered into treaty on Sept. 15, 1874.

Acoose said she is a proud member of a Treaty Four first nation. Her husband has connections to Treaty Six.

"On behalf of the Treaty Four First Nations, we express our deep gratitude to everyone who played a role in assisting Treaty Four in bringing the medal home," Treaty Four spokesperson Chief Lynn Acoose said Monday.

To assist with the historic event, Wendy Hoare, from the Ontario auction house, travelled with the medal to personally deliver the item.

A number of Treaty Four elders, leadership and other members were on hand for the event.