In 1962, a conflict emerged between residents of Kamsack and residents of the three neighbouring reserves. John Emms describes this as an issue of the town's residents reacting to what they perceived to be the social dysfunction and community breakdown on the reserve. For example, the reserves had not held band council meetings for several years, nor were there been any meetings between reserve and Kamsack town officials. John Emms was sent to mediate as a community development official, and the NDP government put in place a system in which bands could contract their social services to government agencies in order to receive the same access to services as the neighbouring non-native community.
Reports from Fort Benton stated that American officials had raided Indigenous camps, some belonging to First Nations residing on the Canadian side of the 49th Parallel. American Troops burned 250 lodges, taking horses they claimed were stolen by Big Bear and Lucky Man's bands, and seizing Métis goods and tools the Americans claimed to be smuggled. Indian Affairs Commissioner Edgar Dewdney suspected that the Americans had acted beyond their rights. He believed that as a result of the raids, First Nations and Métis who lived on the Canadian side of the 49th Parallel had returned. This was not the case, there were numerous Dakota groups which had not yet entered back into 'Canada' (Rupert's Land) and thus were left out of numbered treaty-making.
- Dempsey, Hugh A. Big Bear: The End of Freedom. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1985. 112.
- Hoy, Benjamin. “A Border without Guards: First Nations and the Enforcement of National Space.” Journal of the Canadian Historical Association 25, no. 2 (2014): 89–115. http://dx.doi.org/10.7202/1032842ar.
- Hoy, Benjamin. "Uncertain Counts: The Struggle to Enumerate First Nations in Canada and the United States 1870-1911.” Ethnohistory 62, no. 4 (2015): 729–50.
In order to avoid the hostilities of the North-West/Riel Resistance, some members of the Little Pine band fled to the United States to avoid involvement in the violence. This led to the fracture of the Little Pine band.
Following the 1885 North-West Resistance, First Nations and Metis ownership of guns and knives was heavily restricted, Canada fearing another resistance in which they wouldn't be able to control. Even sharp knives were confiscated, and when authorities came to confiscate weapons, some people hid their knives so that they would not be taken away. Guns and knives were both integral to subsistence patterns, and a source of wealth. Many of these items had been procured in the west out of trade relationships during the fur trade, and were a form of a currency (trade good). This was especially true of guns and ammunition, which had become a staple trade good brought by European traders and which were highly valued by Plains-orientated Indigenous peoples for hunting. Inhibiting the ability to hunt resulted in a higher reliance on Government provided aid and welfare - such as rations - this was an intended result in Canada's genocide of Indigenous peoples. Hindering the ability to feed their community members, and then refusing to supply rations to starving bands was intended to weaken and "make room" for white settlers who would come to the west at the turn of the 19th c.
Members of the Little Pine band traveled to Battleford where they were promised rations from Indian Affairs. Previously, Indian Affairs had been supplying them with rations because they were prohibited from leaving the Little Pine reserve to hunt as had been customary for generations. However, when their rations were suddenly denied, the younger members grew upset and protested vehemently. Chiefs Little Pine and Poundmaker urged their young men not to riot, but frustrations and hunger were high.
There is no indication as to how the Department of Indian Affairs or the NWMP responded to the event. However, protests similar to this one over denied rations and aid were not uncommon. The Canadian Government would withhold and limit rations however they saw fit (which was used as a tool to control and First Nations people), and in dire circumstances there was little other option than to forcibly take rations or face starvation and inevitably death. The disappearance of the Bison (or Buffalo) across the Northern Plains due to near extinction was an immense stressor on Plains-orientated Indigenous peoples who relied on the animals for food amongst other reasons.
As a symbol of the treaty made between the Dakota people and the British in which they would fight together in the War of 1812, Robert Dixon presented the Dakota with seven King George III medals. They were also given a small cannon, which was a symbol of the time the two groups had fought together. Though the battle was mainly fought in the western Great Lakes, Niagara, and St. Lawrence regions, communities in Saskatchewan have ancestry that traces back to this battle. These communities are Standing Buffalo Dakota, Wahpeton Dakota, and Whitecap Dakota.
Dakota in Canada
During the 1885 Resistance, the majority of the Dakota living north of Prince Albert fled south to avoid armed conflict. The Dakota community, which had previously consisted of approximately 400 families, was reduced to 35 or 40 families during the resistance. A group of Dakota was also led further north by Tarasota to the Candle Lake Region to avoid hostilities. Another Dakota leader, Tituwakanska, told members of the Dakota community not to follow Tarasota north, but to stay near Prince Albert.
A group of American traders attacked a Nakota camp in the Cypress Hills, killing at least 26 people over an alleged theft of horses. Incidentally, the horses were not stolen, rather, they had walked away from their owners.
On 6 July 1885 Riel was charged with high treason for his leadership in the North-West Resistance. His trial began on 20 July 1885. Riel could not afford a defense attorney, so money was collected from his supporters in Quebec and François-Xavier Lemieux and Charles Fitzpatrick (two prominent Quebec defense lawyers) were hired to defend Riel. The defense strategy was to prove that Riel was insane, as denying the charge of high treason was, at the time, viewed as implausible. Various witnesses were called that either upheld Riel's sanity or considered him 'insane.' Riel's final speech ended any prospects of acquittal. Riel spoke eloquently and passionately, justifying the reasons behind the resistance. After thirty minutes of deliberation, the jury arrived at a decision of guilt in relationship to the charge of high treason, with a recommendation for clemency. Judge Richardson disregarded the request for clemency and sentenced Riel to death by hanging in Regina on 18 September, 1885.
Riel's Lawyers appealed this ruling in the Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench as well as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council but neither altered the original verdict. Riel was executed in Regina on 16 November, 1885. The extreme punishment and exodus of Metis leaders after the resistance, like Gabriel Dumont who fled to the U.S., represented a great loss of Metis political leadership within "Rupert's Land" and Metis Nationhood. It demonstrated to Metis and First Nations people across the plains that asserting sovereignty and self-determination would be met with a swift and oppressive colonial hand; while this did not stop Indigenous peoples, policies and laws implemented after the resistance made it exceptionally more difficult to organize, resist, and protect their nations. The establishment of the NWMP and Indian Agents on Western reserves aimed to curb inter-community organization and acted as state surveillance.
The Queen vs. Louis Riel, accused and convicted of the crime of high treason: report of trial at Regina: appeal to the Court of Queen's bench, Manitoba: appeal to the Privy council, England: petition for medical examination of the convict: list of petitions for commutation of sentence, Ottawa: 1886. pp. 192-199.
In 1871 a peace treaty brought an end to the long running war between the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the Nehiyaw (Cree). This was also known as the Assiniboine alliance. The roots of this conflict can be traced back to the height of the fur trade and competition over the dwindling bison herds. In the fall of 1870 the Niitsitapi won a crucial victory over 600-800 Cree, Assiniboine, and Saulteaux warriors in a battle at Belly River (near present day Lethbridge, AB). Following the Niitsitapi victory both sides acknowledged the futility of inter-aboriginal warfare, especially with the increasingly chaotic 'Whoop-Up' trade moving northward from America, and agreed to a peace treaty to end hostilities.