We Are All Treaty People

National Indigenous Peoples Day in Battleford remembers the past

  • Published - 22/06/2018
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  • Posted By - Milton Tootoosis
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This group photo was taken on June 21, 2018 during National Indigenous Peoples Day at Fort Battleford to commemorate the eight Indians that were hanged in the fall of 1885, Western Canada's largest mass execution.

Some of the eight were linked to the Frog Lake Massacre. Without a proper trial and defense they were ordered murderers by Sir John A. McDonald and sentenced to hang. A mass grave was dug below the Fort Battleford location away from the area and hidden for many years before it was rediscovered in the 1960's-70's.

A grave marker was finally placed to honour the warriors.  Today, there is still no signage of story about the eight. That will change as we move forward in the name of justice and Reconciliation.   

Poundmaker and Big Bear were sentenced for treason-felony and served jail time at the Stony Mountain Penitentiary. Poundmaker was released early. He travelled to see his adopted father Crowfoot at Blackfoot Crossing where he died at the age of 44.

Poundmaker's remains were brought back to his reserve in 1967 where there is a grave site near the famous battle between the Cree/Assiniboine and Col Otter's 300 men. The battle ended in the Cree/Assiniboine favour in which Poundmaker is credited for stopping the warriors from pursuing the retreating Otter. Poundmaker saved many, many lives that day and prevented further bloodshed and asserted his dream for peace, order and good governance. He did not support Riel's fight at Batoche as others have assumed. Poundmaker stood good to his word for peace and good relations with the settlers as promised when he accepted treaty six in 1876. 

Treaty Commissioner of Saskatchewan, Mary Culbertson, spoke at the the National Indigenous Peoples Day commemoration.

“Remembering and honouring significant events in the course of Canada being shaped, is essential to repairing the fractured reality of the Treaty relationships," she said after the event. 

"It’s this education and this kind of commemoration  that is the foundation of repairing relationships on the continued road to reconciliation. We can’t give up.” 

The event was also attended by the OTC's Milton Tootoosis (pictured below).