Broken Knife’s Lookout – Nation to Nation ReconciliationCommemoration of History
Poundmaker Cree Nation, Treaty Six Territory - At the southern end of the Poundmaker Cree Nation reserve stands a hill which seems to stand guard over the community as it is one of the tallest points of land for many kilometres around. This hill is called Broken Knife’s Lookout and the name originated in a rarely talked about battle which took place there between the Cree and the Tsuut’ina (formerly known as the Sarcee) sometime around 1840. This hill had no visible markings or monuments to commemorate this great event, until recently when the people of Poundmaker and the people of Tsuut’ina, held an event that was both a celebration and reconciliation between the two groups.
On June 29, 2016, a monument was unveiled that told the story of the battle from both perspectives, the Cree and the Tsuut’ina. This story has been an oral story and a few versions exist, all accurate, just told from different perspectives. Sometime in 1840, the famous and feared Tsuut’ina warrior Broken Knife came to this area and he died in battle along with approximately 9 of his fellow warriors along the banks of Cut Knife Creek which meanders through the community. The hill which bears his name was the hill from which Broken Knife attempted to look for the Cree camp and upon which he was discovered by Sweetgrass, a Cree warrior out hunting buffalo along with 2 other young men. A fierce battle that lasted many days hence took place at the foot of this hill, along the creek, until the Tsuut’ina were overwhelmed and most of the warriors slain. For many years the Cree of Poundmaker, out of respect for these warriors did not openly share and tell this story.
One of the objectives of the monument and the reconciliation on June 29 was, according to Tsuut’ina elder Bruce Starlight, “to bring peace to the memory and spirit of Broken Knife, so that he can be openly talked about and this story shared. This event can bring peace between the two nations and to lay to rest any fears that any people may have had about the slain warriors. “
A tipi was pitched that depicted the battle, a Tsuut’ina pipe ceremony was held and a song that had belonged to Broken Knife was passed on to the people of Poundmaker followed by a luncheon that was served at Veterans Hall. This event was well attended by band members, tourists from as far away as Montreal, and Chief Antoine and councillors were on hand to address the crowd, alongside elders from Tsuut’ina Nation.
Submitted by Floyd Favel, Poundmaker Cree Nation