Disputing the Medicine Line

The Plains Crees and the Canadian-American Border, 1876-1885

by Michel Hogue

From Montana The Magazine of Western History, 52 (Winter 2002), 2-17; this article is presented courtesy of the Montana Historical Society.  All rights reserved, © 2002.

Between 1876 and 1885, bands of Canadian Plains Crees along with allied Assiniboines, Saulteaux ( Plains Ojibwas), and Metis, responded to a dramatic decline in buffalo numbers by crossing the international border into Montana to hunt, trade, and seek sanctuary. Photographer L.A. Huffman labeled this 1880 image "Buffalo grazing the Big Open North Montana."

Just south of the international boundary between Montana and Canadas North-West Territories, on November 7, 1881, Lieutenant Gustavus Doane and a detachment of the Second U.S. Cavalry arrested Chief Foremost Man (Nekaneet) and seven other Canadian Crees. After confiscating the Crees guns, knives, and even some of their clothing, soldiers imprisoned the men for several days in a dark cell at Fort Assinniboine before finally releasing them at the border with a warning to stay in Canada or face severe punishment. In harsh November weather, the barefooted men struggled toward Chief Piapots camp in the Cypress Hills, thirty miles from Fort Walsh. Two died from starvation and exposure en route, though six managed to reach the camp. The Crees crime: hunting and trading on U.S. soil.1
Between 1876 and 1885, the cross-border movement of the Plains Crees, so-called "British Indians" who inhabited the borderlands, drew the attention of officials charged with the administration of Native peoples.2 Increasingly determined to make the border a meaningful divide and separate "American" Indians from "Canadian" Indians, both governments attempted to restrict the Crees movement across the border and remove them from the region. At the same time, faced with dramatic changes to their subsistence patterns, Cree bands showed equal determination to remain in the area to exploit opportunities for hunting, trade, war, and sanctuary.

Although a dominant force on the northern plains by the mid-nineteenth century, the Crees were relatively recent arrivals to the region. Their expansion into the plains stemmed, in part, from the establishment of Hudsons Bay Company fur trading posts in the lands they traditionally occupied near Hudson Bay and Lake Superior in the seventeenth century. Proximity to the posts gave the Crees preferential access to guns and trade goods that enabled them to act as intermediaries between traders and other tribes. As the fur trade spread west along the Saskatchewan River and it tributaries after the 1760s, the Crees intermediary role lessened, but they gained new opportunities to supply pemmican and other provisions traders needed to journey to trading companies new posts in the subarctic. Gradually, a growing number of Crees and their Assiniboine allies from the northern forests and parklands moved onto the plains and adopted a buffalo-hunting lifestyle. At the height of their southward and westward expansion in the 1860s, the Plains Crees ranged throughout most of present-day southern Saskatchewan and east-central Alberta.3
The Crees presence in the region was also closely linked to the expansion of the Assiniboines and Saulteaux (or Plains Ojibwas), with whom some Plains Cree bands traveled, hunted, intermarried, and joined in war against common enemies. After 1840 many Métis buffalo hunters, the offspring of European fur traders and Cree and Ojibwa women, also joined these groups. Their expansion onto the plains displaced Lakotas, Crows, and Gros Ventres to the south and the Blackfeet and Sarcees to the west.4
As both the number of Crees living on the plains and the commercial demand for hides increased, the great buffalo herds north of the forty-ninth parallel began to shrink. Drawn south by the contraction of these herds and by the high price American traders offered for buffalo robes, the southernmost of the Cree bands established a presence in northern Montana. In 1831-1832 the U.S. government granted the Crees a measure of recognition

An Assiniboine lodge photographed by W.E. Hook, Sr., in the Cypress Hills in 1878-1879. MHS Photograph Archives, Helena.

when officials invited Chief Broken Arm (Maskepetoon) and representatives from other tribes living near Fort Union to meet President Andrew Jackson in Washington D.C. By the 1850s, the Cree-Assiniboine and Western QuAppelle people, the southernmost Cree bands, inhabited the borderlands between Wood Mountain and the Cypress Hills and traded at both British posts along the South Saskatchewan River and at American Missouri River posts.5

Under increasing hunting pressure, buffalo populations continued to decline, creating a subsistence crisis for tribes on the Canadian prairies by the 1870s. The Crees responded, in part, by pressing the government for treaties as a means to guarantee their survival. In 1874 and 1876 the Crees, Assiniboines, and Ojibwas of central Alberta and southern Saskatchewan concluded Treaties Four and Six with the Canadian government that, in the governments eyes, extinguished their aboriginal title to the land. In exchange, the government agreed to supply annual cash payments and agricultural implements and to set aside reserves in consultation with the signatory bands, though the treaties contained no time line for relocation onto reserves and stipulated that signatory bands could continue to fish and hunt as they had previously done. In some cases, bands who were anxious to make a start in agriculture selected their reserves and had them surveyed by the government in the following year. Others, like Piapot, initially refused to select a reserve even after agreeing to the treaty. Many Plains Cree bands, such as the large camps of Battle River Crees under chiefs Big Bear and Little Pine, demanded better treaty terms and refused to sign the treaties altogether. These chiefs, among the most influential Cree leaders, remained on the plains with their numerous followers, largely dependent on the hunt.6

From northern forests and parklands, the Crees and Assiniboines followed the fur trade onto the plains in the late seventeenth century, adopting a buffalo-hunting lifestyle. Above is a Plains Cree family photographed by F. Jay Haynes in the Qu'Appelle area in 1881. Haynes Foundation Collection, MHS Photographed Archives, Helena

By 1878 all plains bands faced a severe subsistence crisis, but the Canadian government, despite its treaty promises, made very few provisions for their support, forcing increasing numbers of both treaty and nontreaty Indians to hunt in Montana. In 1879-1880 the last remaining buffalo disappeared from Canadian territory.
In Montana, Canadian Indians encountered diverse tribesùthe Blackfeet, Crows, Assiniboines, Gros Ventres, Lakotasùin competition for the regions resources and facing the U.S. governments growing administrative presence. In the years after the Civil War the federal government set aside the land north of the Missouri River between the Continental Divide and Dakota Territory as territory reserved for resident tribes and established agencies to serve these populations. In accordance with federal Indian policy, agencies on the Teton River and at Forts Browning, Peck, and, later, Belknap distributed annuities and rations. In return, tribes were expected to engage in agricultural pursuits and generally adopt "civilized" ways. However, since agency provisions were often inadequate, these Indians remained dependent on hunting for food and clothing, and competition for the dwindling game resources intensified.7

In 1874 and 1876 Cree, Assiniboine, and Ojibwa leaders signed t4reaties with the Canadian government that extinguished their aboriginal title to land in exchange for reserves, annual cash payments, and agricultural implements. The treaties, however contained no timeline for relocation. Piapot( Not Shown), circa 1880s) initially refused to select a reserve, and Big Bear (Above, 1885), deminding better treaty terms, refused to sign altogether. MHS Photograph Archives, Helena

After 1876 U.S. officials un-easiness over growing concentrations of diverse tribes was wrapped up in deeper concerns about the presence of the Sitting Bull and several thousand refugee Lakotas camped just north of the international boundary. The Lakotas, anxious to impress on authorities their right to remain in Canada, claimed a long-standing presence north of the forty-ninth parallel and emphasized their historic ties with the British.8 Although eager to avoid assuming responsibility for the refugees, Canadian officials allowed the Lakotas to remain in the North-West Territories under the protection of the Dominion so long as they remained peaceful, but they would receive neither official recognition nor government assistance.

For their part, many Montanans belived the Lakotas presence just over the border and the threat of prolonging ten years of open warfare discouraged settlement and harmed local business interests. The fighting along the Bozeman Trail and Custers defeat still fresh in their minds, they clamored for a string of new military posts along the northern border. The War Department obliged, building Fort Assinniboine near the Bears Paw Mountains in 1879 and Fort Maginnis in the Judith Basin in 1880, ostensibly to guard against "foreign" Indians crossing into the U.S. and potential disturbances by "American" Indians who left their territory.9
By 1879 the growing presence of Indians from north of the border began to alarm American army officials. Reacting to this fear, Colonel Thomas Ruger, commander of the District of Montana, declared that although these tribes had long hunted in the region north of the Missouri River, decreasing game populations made it necessary to prohibit hunting parties crossing into Montana from "the other side."10
In a response at once pragmatic and self-serving, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald defended the Canadian policy of allowing tribes to cross the border. He declared it almost impossible for either nation to control the movement of the nomadic tribes. "We might as well try to check the flight of locusts from the South or the rush of buffalo from the North," Macdonald argued. According to the prime minister, if the United States could not prevent the flight of the Lakotas north, it should come as no surprise that Canada could not prevent southward migrations. Adding fuel to the fire, North-West Mounted Police Commissioner James F. Macleod asserted that the U.S. Armys maneuvers prevented the migration of the buffalo into Canadian territory, leaving Indians unable to hunt for their subsistence on either side of the line, and he reminded U.S. officials that it had long been Canadas policy to allow groups of American Piegans, Assiniboines, and Pend dOreilles to hunt north of the forty-ninth parallel. Macleod urged an agreement that would allow Native peoples in search of food free movement across the border.11

Montanans believed the growing presence of Indians from north of the border, including Lakota refugees of the Little Bighorn battle who had fled across the border in the months following the famous flight, discouraged settlement and harmed local businesses. In 1879 the War Department built Fort Assiniboine (above, photographed from the east by F.Jay Haynes in 1880) to protect American interests. On the other side of the border, the North-West Mounted Police oversaw Indian affairs. The Mounties at the right were photographed by W.E. Hook, Sr., in 1878-1879. Haynes Fnd. Coll., MHS Photograph Archives, Helena


The Canadian government could well afford to delay any attempts to confine Indians to reserves. Unlike in the U.S., in 1879 the small settler population of the North-West Territories was clustered along the North Saskatchewan and Battle rivers, well north of the forty-ninth parallel, and officials faced little pressure to restrict the cross-border movement of the Crees or other tribes. It served Canadas interests for its Native population to continue hunting in Montana. Indeed, Canadian officials acknowledged the buffalo as their "best allies," and between 1879 and 1881 actively encouraged Indians to go south as a way to reduce the cost of rations.12
U.S. authorities, however, resisted allowing Canadian Indians to enter the U.S. In summer 1879 the U.S. Army took steps to evict "foreign" Indians in response to Fort Peck agent N. S. Porters complaint that bands of "hostile Sioux" prevented agency bands from hunting. Under orders from Brigadier-General Alfred Terry, Colonel Nelson A. Miles and his command evicted a large camp of Lakotas near Beaver Creek and captured 829 Métis and Indians identified as Canadian, including twenty lodges of nontreaty Crees hunting north of the Milk River. For the remainder of the summer, the army patrolled the territory between Fort Benton and Fort Peck with the intention of expelling Lakota hunting parties and barring all whites, "foreign" Indians, and Métis from hunting in northern Montana.13
This action unsettled Canadian authorities, and in negotiations with the U.S., the Canadian government in October 1879 secured Secretary of State William Evarts consent to allow "British Indians" to follow the buffalo across the border so long as they did not come with hostile intent or accompanied by "hostile Sioux." This approval was timely, for in his annual report for 1880, Canadian Indian Commissioner Edgar Dewdney estimated that between seven thousand and eight thousand Canadian Indians were living in the Milk River region of Montana. During winter 1880 trader James Willard Schultz reported a large Cree band under Big Bear camped alongside Blackfeet chief Crowfoot and a large group of Métis buffalo hunters, including Louis Riel, near his post at Carroll about 150 miles downriver from Fort Benton. Canadian authorities blamed American traders like Schultz for keeping Canadian bands south of the border by offering large sums of money and gifts in exchange for buffalo robes and their treaty annuities.14
Although such portrayals fit with perceptions of Indians as influenced by self-interested traders, more complex motives likely prompted cross-border migration. Crossing the border allowed the Crees to obtain goods unavailable on one side of the border or to take advantage of more favorable trade terms. For example, when North-West Mounted Police Commissioner Acheson G. Irvine, who replaced Commissioner Macleod in 1880, refused to sell ammunition to Cree bands assembled at Fort Walsh in summer 1882, they informed him they would purchase ammunition at Fort Belknap.15
Despite the agreement allowing them to hunt in the U.S., the Crees often encountered difficult conditions in the borderlands. Judith Basin buffalo herds, while still large, moved unpredictably, and the Crees who crossed the border were not guaranteed of finding buffalo, especially after 1880. In spring 1880 thousands of starving Indians returned to Canada suffering the effects of a severe winter, scarce food, the loss of hundreds of horses to raiders, and rampant whisky trading in their camps.

In the 1870s cross-border traffic was common, and the Crees and Metis, shown above in camp, maintained good relationships with Montana Indians, compensating them for being allowed to hunt and trade in their territory. By the 1880s, however, the American government had become less tolerant of this mobility.


Other conflicts arose as American cattlemen, Montana Indians, and Indian agents blamed Canadian tribes for stock losses. In his memoirs, Granville Stuart alleged that bands of Crees and other "British" Indians butchered thousands of head of cattle during winter 1880. Stuart claimed the bands traveled to Montana after receiving their annuity payments in Canada, exchanged their money for whiskey, killed cattle, stole horses, and then returned north. Tribes in the U.S. were often equally displeased with the Canadian Indians. During winter 1880 a group of Assiniboines accompanied by soldiers appeared at Big Bear and Crowfoots camp, blaming them for the loss of their cattle. "All of you from CanadaùCrees, Blackfoot, SarceesùI count you as one," the chief stated, "I blame you for the loss of our cattle and I want you to give us ten of your best horses as payment." The Assiniboine chiefs assertions, whether founded or not, were backed by the force of the U.S. Army.16
As they moved back and forth between Canada and the U.S., the boundaries that mattered for the Crees were not only the border, but also the boundaries between indigenous groups in the region. The Crees knew that the U.S. government had set aside the area north of the Missouri River for other tribes use. They therefore sought arrangements with local tribes that would allow them to remain in the territory. Foremost Man and the Crees imprisoned at Fort Assinniboine in November 1881 believed they would be allowed to trade at Fort Belknap since the previous fall Piapot had taken a collection from the Cree camps assembled in the Cypress Hills in order to pay the "chief at Assinaboine" to allow them to hunt and trade. In 1879 Louis Riel apparently made a deal that allowed Métis and Indians to hunt on either side of the international boundary, regardless of nationality. Riel also secured the consent of Colonel Black, the commanding officer at Fort Assinniboine, to allow the Métis to overwinter at the Big Bend of the Milk River.17
Indeed, throughout the 1870s various groups of Canadian Indians commonly received government permission to hunt in northern Montana, and Indian agents reports indicated that foreign Indians repeatedly visited the agencies in search of relief or to visit relatives. Their presence complicated the creation of agency rolls, and agents often noted the difficulty of sorting out whether Assiniboines and Blackfeet, whom both national governments recognized as belonging within their territories, should be considered American or British, especially as they continued to move back and forth across the border.18
By the 1880s agents demonstrated less tolerance for this mobility. Fort Belknap agent W. L. Lincoln charged that the agencys Gros Ventres, Assiniboines, and Crows all returned to the post after hostile tribes drove them from the hunt. Lincoln thought it time that the large numbers of "half-breeds" and other "British subjects" were "made to remain on their own territory and cease to dominate upon territory belonging to the U.S. and set apart for the Indians of this Agency."19 The Crees status as "foreigners" marked them as easy targets for exclusion. Agents counterparts north of the forty-ninth parallel shared the belief that the Plains Crees treaties with the Canadian government and historic ties to the Hudsons Bay Company established them as "Canadian." The question of where in Canada the Crees belonged, however, remained unsettled.
Between 1879 and 1881 several Cree and Assiniboine bands requested that the Canadian government set aside reserves for them in the vicinity of the Cypress Hills. The Department of Indian Affairs consented. In 1880 it surveyed a reserve for Long Lodge and The Man Who Took the Coats band of Assiniboines and planned another for Cowessess mixed Cree and Saulteaux band. The department established two agency farms near the proposed reserves and in 1880 appointed an Indian agent at Fort Walsh. Other chiefs, Little Pine and Piapot among them, also selected reserves northeast of the fort, although the Department of Indian Affairs never surveyed the proposed reserves. The goal of these leaders, according to historian John Tobias, was to concentrate Native peoples on contiguous reserves in an effort to press their demands for changes to the treaties and preserve a measure of autonomy. By spring 1881, however, officials began to reassess the desirability of allowing concentrations of Crees in the Cypress Hills area.20

Although the Cree camp photographed at Fort Walsh in 1878 appears prosperous, by spring 1881 thousands of Crees were near starvation after finding little game in Montana the previous winter. The North-West Mounted Police anxiously encouraged the Crees to relocate to northern reserves, but the Crees feared they would find no food if they went north.
MHS Photograph Archives, Helena

In spring 1881 thousands of nearly starving Crees who had spent the winter hunting in Montana returned to Fort Walsh to receive their annuity payments and rations. There they met bands of Crees and Assiniboines who had left their reserves along the North Saskatchewan, Battle, and QuAppelle rivers to hunt buffalo near the international boundary. Realizing the buffalo were too far south, they chose to remain near Fort Walsh, destitute and largely dependent on rations. Poundmaker, one of the leading Cree chiefs, voiced his complaints that the government had failed to fulfill treaty promises and warned the assembled tribes that if they moved to reserves in the north they would starve. Indian Affairs officials charged that Poundmaker was exciting sedition; they feared that he and Big Bear planned the gathering in order to "wring large inducements from the government" and secure improved treaty terms.21
Another incident at Fort Walsh in fall 1880 had likewise illustrated to Canadian officials the difficulties in controlling large gatherings of hungry and discontented people. Dissatisfied with the way the North-West Mounted Police had handled a white residents assault on a member of Lucky Mans band, a group of Crees destroyed the mans vegetable garden. When agent Edwin Allen informed the culprits that he would deduct the damage from their rations, the situation became tense, and, apparently, only the intervention of Piapot defused it. Officials took note. The following spring Allen received orders to force Crees who arrived at Fort Walsh to move north to their reserves, withhold rations from those who refused, and to do all he could to prevent the Crees from again crossing the border.22
Allen had little success in preventing congregations. In late July 1881 over three thousand Indians were drawing rations at Fort Walsh, and officials expected thousands more under Big Bear to arrive from Montana. Instructed to pay treaty annuities only to those who had selected reserves in the Cypress Hills, Inspector of Indian Agencies Thomas P. Wadsworth informed those fleeing northern reserves that they could only receive payments there. The Assiniboines who were settled on the Cypress Hills reserve, however, refused to accept payments until the others from the north received their annuities. The standoff intensified when Lucky Man and Little Pine told Wadsworth they would make him pay "every native of this country" and refused to accept their payments unless the Métis also assembled at the fort were allowed into the treaties. Wadsworth refused their demands and withheld further payments.23
The situation became so tense that on August 11 officers confined the North-West Mounted Police garrison at Fort Walsh to the barracks, issued each policeman extra Winchester rifles, and ordered seven-pound guns placed in the bastions to cover the sides of the forts stockade. Only persistent reports of buffalo within twenty miles of Fort Walsh defused the situation. By August 20 Inspector Wadsworth completed the annuity payments to all treaty Indians, including those from the north, and the Crees prepared to leave for the hunt while others returned to their reserves. As the spectacle of the North-West Mounted Police garrison confined within the walls of Fort Walsh confirmed, Canadian authorities were in no position to enforce policies the tribes did not like. "The Indians know their strength and when driven by hunger would use it to have their demands satisfied," Wadsworth claimed.24
Whereas Canadian officials had earlier encouraged the Crees migration to Montana, by 1881 they began to look upon such movement with less tolerance. With Canadian Pacific Railway tracks advancing across the prairies, officials anticipated a flood of white settlers into the region. To attract settlers, the government believed it needed to demonstrate that Indians posed no threat or nuisance. Also, so long as Canadian Indians remained near the border so too did the problem of Natives raiding stock on one side of the border and then skipping across the "medicine line." Given these concerns, Inspector Wadsworth and other officials advocated closing Fort Walsh in order to prevent further congregations and incidents.25

Expansion of the cattle industry in Montana accelerated the U.S.s exclusion of Canadian Indians. In response to reports of large numbers of Indians crossing the border, Sheriff John J. Healy, pictured above in 1883, proposed forming parties of armed stockmen, prompting the military to increase pressure on the Canadian Indians to stay north of the border.MHS Photograph Archives, Helena


As the cattle industry in Montanas Chouteau County and Judith Basin rapidly expanded, clashes between Indians and stockmen increased. In August 1881 the Montana press reported thousands of Canadian Indians returning to northern Montana to hunt. Steeling themselves for the influx, stockmen gathered in Fort Benton to form the Chouteau and Meagher Counties Stock Protective Association. Its members supported Chouteau County sheriff John J. Healys plan to "stop the Indians at the line" by organizing a force of fifty armed men to intercept groups bound for the Judith Basin. Warning such collisions could lead to a bloody and expensive war, in September 1881 Montana territorial delegate Martin Maginnis called on the secretary of the Interior to confine American Indians to their territory and to prevent "British" Indians from crossing the border. Secretary of the Interior S. J. Kirkwoods responseùthat under the terms of an October 1855 treaty the Blackfeet and other tribes had the right to leave their territory to huntùinflamed Granville Stuart and other stockmen. Stuart threatened that stockmen had little choice but to protect their interests.26
The prospect of armed parties of stockmen alarmed Brigadier-General Terry, and he voiced his concern about the "serious evils" that would result from the formation of such semimilitary organizations. That fall Colonel Ruger ordered Fort Assinniboines commanding officer Captain R. L. Morris to compel the "Canadian Indians to here-after remain on their proper side of the boundary line." If they refused to comply, Ruger counseled, troops should use sufficient force to push them back.27
Accordingly, a column led by Captain Jacob Kline began scouting the Milk River country between Fort Belknap and Peoples Creek north of the Little Rocky Mountains on October 8, dispersing camps of Métis and Crees along the way. On October 24 soldiers broke up Piapots camp of thirty-two lodges. Some army officers remained skeptical of the maneuvers; Lieutenant Gustavus Doane stated that "the report about war between Cree halfbreeds and Gros Ventresùis all nonsense." Doane predicted that the "moment our backs our [sic] turned they will come over againùand go for buffaloùMost of which are now south of Milk River."28

Indeed, many Crees remained in the borderlands despite the armys effort. Just as Doane suggested, many returned to Montana shortly after being forced across the border while others avoided the patrols altogether. Indian agent Cecil Denny reported that after the army evicted them from Montana, various chiefs sent runners to Fort Walsh stating they were out of ammunition and therefore unable to continue hunting. Ordered not to interfere with Indians hunting buffalo, Denny issued ammunition, tea, and tobacco in an effort to encourage them to remain on the plains. Even though it did little to advance the goal of "civilization," Canadian officials preferred to have the Crees hunting in Montana than congregating at Fort Walsh. Some of the Crees seem to have taken the ammunition Denny offered and promptly returned across the border. At about the same time Denny submitted his report, Agent Lincoln reported members of Piapots and Little Pines bands near the Fort Belknap agency.29
Apparently undeterred by the threat of expulsion, by November Crees from as far away as Edmonton had formed a large camp of about two hundred fifty lodges along the Milk River under the leadership of Little Pine and Lucky Man. According to Agent Denny, though, some of the Natives gathered near Fort Walsh seemed afraid to cross the border, frightened perhaps by rumors of Montana cattlemen hanging some Cree men for horse stealing. Other Cree bands likely avoided capture because, just as the Lakotas had done in previous years, they remained camped just north of the border, crossing only in small parties in order to trade or hunt. In August a large group of Crees camped just north of the international boundary, where they were able to hunt buffalo and obtain alcohol and other goods from traders at Fort Assinniboine, either directly or through Métis traders in a large camp located immediately south of the border.30
When news of the armys patrols reached Ottawa, it provoked an indignant response from Canadian Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs Lawrence Vankoughnet. "The conduct on the part of the American troops," he stated, "is at direct variance with the statement made in the Message of the President of the United States to the effect that the United States troops had been ordered to avoid for the present any collision with alien Indians." In fall 1881 Canadian officials apparently secured U.S. authorities grudging acceptance that tribes could continue to cross the "imaginary boundary line in search of their means of subsistence."31
The issue of how to prevent cross-border stock raiding persisted. In 1882 Indian Commissioner Dewdney proposed a permit system that would allow groups such as the Blackfeet and Assiniboine whose territories the border bisected to move across it for hunting, visiting relatives, and other peaceful purposes. The Crees, who only traveled into Montana to hunt buffalo, would no longer have legitimate reason to move south, and Indian agents could therefore refuse to issue them permits.32
The capture of Sheriff Healy by a group of Métis and Saulteaux in March 1882 soon overshadowed discussions of the permit system and provoked another round of army maneuvers. In February Healy had received a special appointment granting him the power to seize the property of those he found trading illegally with Natives. He set out for the Métis settlements along the Milk River, intending to stop the Métis illicit whiskey trading and cross-border merchandise smuggling. After spending two weeks in the settlements looking for evidence under the guise of collecting taxes, Healy seized buffalo robes worth about $2,000 and arrested three men on charges of smuggling. The next night a group of about eighty Métis and Saulteaux surrounded Healys cabin, freed the prisoners, retook the robes, and took Healy captive. On March 8 Captain O. B. Read arrived from the armys Poplar River camp and secured Healys release. The Métis, however, quickly fled across the international boundary with the robes.33
Even before this potentially explosive situation, the U.S. government had resolved to force foreign Indians out of the country. Emphasizing this, Secretary of State Frederick Frelinghuysen informed the Canadian government that all Indian or Métis camps the army encountered would be broken up, their property destroyed, and their inhabitants forced across the border. After Healys release, commanders ordered additional Fort Assinniboine soldiers to drive out all Canadian Indians and Métis. On March 14 troops compelled 37 lodges of Crees under the leadership of Little Pine across the border. The next day troops set fire to 250 houses in a Métis and Indian settlement whose inhabitants had already fled north. For the remainder of the month, the army scoured the countryside in search of remaining camps. The Fort Benton Benton Record enthusiastically reported troops attempts to chase down the Crees immediately following Sheriff Healys release, but the triumph soured within a few weeks. By early May the newspaper reported that the Medicine Lodge country was again "overrun" with Métis, Saulteaux, and Crees. Throughout the summer, the army and the Crees played cat and mouse along the border.34
Those Crees who remained in the borderlands faced increasingly desperate circumstances. Some had returned to Fort Walsh months earlier after having had little luck hunting buffalo. Others, chased out by U.S. troops, began to arrive in wretched condition in April 1882. Determined to drive tribes away from the post, North-West Mounted Police Commissioner Irvine refused to supply food and pressured the assembled chiefs to move with their bands north onto reserves. With game depleted in the vicinity of the Cypress Hills, little clothing or ammunition, few horses, and officials determined to issue as few rations as possible, many no doubt felt they had little choice but to leave. A number of the chiefs, including Piapot, moved onto reserves near QuAppelle in June while others went to Battleford.35
As Fort Walsh officials grew frustrated with Big Bear, Foremost Man, Lucky Man, and others who refused to move north, they began to take increasingly draconian measures. Irvine stated his intention to starve the remaining nontreaty Indians and those who refused to move north. Officials cut rations again in late June and informed nearby Indians of the agencys closure and cessation of payments there. The government shut agency farms and refused to survey any of the reserves previously promised to the various Cree and Assiniboine bands in the Cypress Hills.36

Despite this, approximately two thousand Indians assembled at Fort Walsh in September 1882, insisting that the Cypress Hills was their country. Piapot again joined them. He claimed that the promises made to him when he left in the spring had not been met and that his people were dying from starvation on their reserve.37
North-West Mounted Police surgeon Augustus Jukes visited the Fort Walsh camp in October and described its miserable conditions. The scarcity of buffalo left the Indians without food, clothing, or shelter. Many crowded into lodges made only of lodge poles and spruce bows where, with barely more than rags as clothing, they huddled together for warmth. Jukes warned of disaster unless payments allowed them to secure provisions. Reports of starvation failed to move Indian Commissioner Dewdney. He chided North-West Mounted Police Commissioner Irvine that he had been repeatedly instructed to inform the Crees and others that they would not be paid at Fort Walsh or receive reserves in the region since "the Southern Country is not the country of the Crees." He told Irvine that "the longer they continue to act against the wishes of the Govt the more wretched they will become."38
Those Crees who remained in the Cypress Hills had little choice but to search for game, and Big Bear, Lucky Man, and Little Pine departed for the plains, promising not to cross into the U.S. No longer convinced that allowing the Crees to remain in Montana served Canadian interests, authorities at Fort Walsh began to work more closely with their counterparts at Fort Assinniboine. For instance, North-West Mounted Police Commissioner Irvine, skeptical of Big Bears promise to remain in Canada, maintained a close correspondence with Fort Assinniboine officials, keeping them abreast of the Crees movements. He confided to Indian Commissioner Dewdney that he hoped the American troops would catch the Crees if they moved into the U.S. and "give them a sound thrashing."39
The Canadian governments tactics eventually achieved the desired effect. Although Dewdney relented and allowed the payment of treaty annuities at Fort Walsh in November 1882, Allan McDonald, the Indian agent in charge of the payments, expressed his desire to "punish" the Indians, and he gave them barely enough rations to survive. Nontreaty Indians received no assistance from the government. Faced with starvation, many followers of Big Bear broke with their chief and accepted treaty annuities. In December 1882 Big Bear, the last plains chief to sign a treaty, himself signed Treaty Six. Although a number of chiefs moved with their bands onto reserves, Big Bear remained in the Cypress Hills through the winter, subsisting on rations issued to prevent him and his followers from starving.40

Standing above the group, Little Bear is pictured with the remnants of Big Bears band in Havre in 1896 as they await deportation to Canada. Most eventually returned to Montana to settle on the Rocky Boys Reservation southwest of Havre.Dutro-Reed Studio, photographer, MHS Photograph Archives, Helena


Just how many Crees remained in the borderlands during winter 1882-1883 remained unclear. In December Secretary of State Frelinghuysen forwarded complaints from Captain Read, the commanding officer at the Poplar River post, that the Milk River country was "overrun with half-breeds, Crees, hostile Indians and armed Yanktonais," something which North-West Mounted Police Inspector A. R. Macdonell, stationed just north at Wood Mountain, hotly denied. The conflicting estimates reflected, in part, the difficulties both governments faced as they attempted to enforce the international boundary. Army patrols scouted the Milk River country throughout the winter, occasionally encountering Cree and Métis parties, although at the same time, scouting parties also rode out but could find no trace of foreign Indians. The areas sheer size no doubt foiled the patrols, but confusion as to who ought to be ejected also likely played a part. As Macdonell pointed out, some of the Métis sighted were likely American mixed-bloods visiting relatives at Wood Mountain.41
The Crees who remained in the borderlands in winter 1882-1883 found few buffalo, and conditions for Montana agency Indians looked equally grim. Fort Peck agent N. S. Porter and Fort Belknap agent W. L. Lincoln reported that white hunters, foreign Indians, and prairie fires prevented the agencies Indians from killing their usual numbers of buffalo. They apparently secured most of their meat from the carcasses left by white hide hunters. Congressional reductions to the agencies appropriations and crop failures exacerbated the food shortage. By summer 1883 the agents for the three agencies warned Commissioner of Indian Affairs Hiram Price of the threat of starvation. Indeed, between one-fourth and one-sixth of the Piegans in Montana died during winter 1882-1883.42
Perhaps because they expected that they would soon leave the borderlands, the Crees carried out a series of raids against Montana Piegans, Gros Ventres, and Assiniboines in spring 1883. One of the most daring occurred in March under the leadership of Cut Foot. After breaking into two parties, one group of Crees captured approximately fifty horses from Joe Kipps ranch along the Marias River while the other stole twenty-one horses from an outfit near Willow Round. The Crees quickly made for the border, but a party of Piegans and white men started in pursuit. Three Cree men died in the ensuing fight. The surviving raiders escaped across the border with the stolen horses and arrived at Fort Walsh on March 21. The following week the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap agents reported Cree raiders stole sixty-seven head of horses from the Gros Ventres and 111 ponies from the Blackfeet agency during March.43
Faced with persistent cross-border raids, Secretary of State Frelinghuysen informed Canadian officials that the proposed permit system would do nothing to address the problem of Indians who raided in Montana and fled across the border. He enclosed instead a copy of an agreement reached between the United States and Mexico allowing for the reciprocal right to pursue Indians across the border and suggested a similar Canadian-American arrangement. Bristling at the suggestion of U.S. troops crossing freely into Canada, Indian Commissioner Dewdney responded that, while the Canadian government had no objection to the seizure and destruction of raiding parties property, cross-border raids were diminishing and would cease completely by the coming winter as the Canadian government compelled all Crees to move north.44
In the meantime, Canadian officials sought new ways to end these raids. North-West Mounted Police Superintendent A. Shurtliff had warned Cut Foot that if he crossed the border with hostile intent, he would be arrested and the stolen stock taken away. When two Montana cattle outfit employees followed a war party back to Fort Walsh, Shurtliff made good on his promise. However, he could recover only seven stolen horses. The Crees cached the remainder in the hills near the fort and refused to give them up, saying they were needed to offset the killing of their three companions. On May 8, 1883, Lieutenant Colonel James Macleod and North-West Mounted Police Commissioner Irvine convicted eleven of the men of transporting stolen property across the border and sentenced them to two years of hard labor at Stony Mountain Penitentiary in Manitoba. As part of the Canadian governments strategy to force the Crees away from the Cypress Hills, officials promised Cree chiefs that if they moved north and continued to behave themselves the men would be released.45

The second part of the strategy to induce the Crees to stay in Canada included the abandonment of Fort Walsh in May 1883. After years of deliberation, the Canadian government finally moved its North-West Mounted Police post to Maple Creek northeast of the Cypress Hills. With game depleted and government rations unavailable, remaining near the border held fewer opportunities for Cree bands. Most had little choice but to move north. In June and July North-West Mounted Police escorts accompanied the bands led by Big Bear, Little Pine, and Lucky Man north to Battleford where they were expected to select reserves. When a small number of Crees used buckboards given to them by the Department of Indian Affairs to return to Maple Creek that summer, the North-West Mounted Police forced most of them to move to their reserves by threatening arrest under the terms of Canadas Vagrant Act. Through the concerted actions of both federal governments, the majority of the Crees vacated the borderlands by 1884. Not all left, however. Foremost Man and his followers remained in the borderlands without government assistance for years. The government finally established a reserve for the band near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, in 1913.46
In 1885 the North-West Rebellion, a conflict that arose out of disagreement between the regions Métis and the Canadian government over Métis land rights, subsumed a number of local conflicts involving various Indian bands and embroiled some Crees in the events that would once again force them to look to the borderlands. In the small settlement of Frog Lake (northeast of Edmonton) several Cree men from Big Bears band killed nine people on April 2, 1885, and took the remainder of the white settlers captive. In response to the incident, which occurred just weeks after Louis Riels declaration of a provisional government, the Canadian government mobilized its forces to quell the uprising. In the aftermath of encounters with Canadian troops, most of the Crees associated with Big Bears camp surrendered or sought refuge with other bands. However, Lucky Man, Little Poplar, and Little Bear (Imasees) and their families sought asylum in the U.S.
By October 1885 several Cree families had arrived at Fort Belknap, and Agent Lincoln again pressed officials in Washington to expel the Crees from the territory. American Secretary of State T. F. Bayard responded that unless Canadian authorities demanded the return of the Cree refugees under the extradition treaty, U.S. authorities could not force them across the border. Canadian authorities worried that asking U.S. authorities to surrender the Crees, who occupied a position

The collapse of the buffalo economy made it possible for the Canadian and U.S. governments to restrict the Crees from crossing the international boundary, but the porous border meant that Montana would remain an option for them through the end of the nineteenth century.

similar to the refugee Lakotas who had fled to Canada in 1876-1877, would create a dangerous precedent. No request was forthcoming. Over the next several years, the Crees lived in small campsscattered across Montana where they struggled to eke out an existence. Although other Canadian Crees joined these refugees after 1885, their numbers never again reached the size of those of 1879-1881.47

The need to distinguish and classify a diverse mix of people and to make them fit within the broader policy goals underlay the attempts by Washington and Ottawa to restrict the cross-border movement of the Plains Crees in the 1880s. While the combination of converging national interests and the collapse of the buffalo economy made the restriction of the cross-border movement of the Crees possible, the Crees persistence across Montana and the continued arrival of small groups from Canada suggests that crossing the border remained an option for the Crees through the end of the nineteenth century. Their continued presence in the borderlands demonstrates that the use of the border to mark nationality remained incomplete.


MICHEL HOGUE is a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the 2001 Montana Historical Society Bradley Fellow.

1. Record of Events, Fort Assinniboine (hereafter Record of Events, Fort Assinniboine), November 1881, roll 42, microfilm M617, Returns from U.S. Military Posts, Fort Assiniboine, 1879-1891, Record Group 94 (hereafter RG 94), Records of the Adjutant Generals Office, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C. (hereafter NARA); Cecil E. Denny to Indian Commissioner, November 16, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, Record Group 10 (hereafter RG 10), Department of Indian Affairs fonds, National Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario (hereafter NAC); Cecil E. Denny to Edgar Dewdney, November 20, 1881, ibid.; Cecil E. Denny to Assistant Indian Commissioner, December 6, 1881, ibid. The North-West Territories encompassed present-day Alberta and Saskatchewan.
2. Although Canada had achieved its political independence from Great Britain in 1867, Britain retained control over foreign policy until 1931.
3. William A. Fraser, "Plains Cree, Assiniboine and Saulteaux (Plains) Bands, 1874-84," 1963, TS, pp. 4-6, Collection M4379, Glenbow Archives, Calgary, Alberta (hereafter Glenbow).
4. Patricia C. Albers, "Changing Patterns of Ethnicity in the Northeastern Plains, 1780-1870," in History, Power, and Identity: Ethnogenesis in the Americas, 1492-1992, ed. Jonathan D. Hill (Iowa City, Iowa, 1996), 109-11; Regna Darnell, "Plains Cree," in Handbook of North American Indians, ed. Raymond J. DeMallie, vol. 13 (Washington, D.C., 2001), 642.
5. Fraser, "Plains Cree, Assiniboine and Saulteaux (Plains) Bands," 7-8, 10-11; Edwin Denig, Five Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri: Northern Plains Sioux, Arickaras, Assiniboines, Crees, Crows (Norman, 1961), 110-11; Hugh A. Dempsey, "Maskepetoon," in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 9, (Toronto, 1976), 537.
6. Hugh A. Dempsey, Big Bear: The End of Freedom (Vancouver, B.C., 1984), 89-95; Sarah Carter, Lost Harvests: Prairie Indian Reserve Farmers and Government Policy (Montreal, 1990), 58-61, 71.
7. Michael P. Malone, Richard B. Roeder, and William L. Lang, Montana: A History of Two Centuries, rev. ed. (Seattle, 1991), 120-21, 139-41. In 1873 President Ulysses S. Grant by executive order reserved the land north of the Missouri and Sun rivers between Dakota territory and the Continental Divide as Indian territory.
8. Robert Utley, The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull (New York, 1993), 181-82; David G. McCrady, "Living with Strangers: The Nineteenth-Century Sioux and the Canadian-American Borderlands" (Ph.D. diss., University of Manitoba, 1998), 125-28, 144-45. The Lakotas also required the goodwill of neighboring tribes whose territories they inhabited in order to continue to live and hunt in the region.
9. Nicholas P. Hardeman, "Brick Stronghold of the Border: Fort Assinniboine, 1879-1911," Montana The Magazine of Western History, 29 (Spring 1979), 56; Merrill G. Burlingame, The Montana Frontier
(Bozeman, Mont., 1980), 243-44; Joseph Manzione, "I am Looking to the North for My Life": Sitting Bull, 1876-1881 (Salt Lake City, Utah, 1991), 15.
10. U.S. House, Report of the Secretary of War, 46th Cong., 2d sess., 1879-1880, H. Doc. 1, pt.2:76; Elliot T. Galt to Edgar Dewdney, March 22, 1880, file 20,140, vol. 3712, RG 10, NAC. The Fort Benton (Mont.) Benton Record echoed these sentiments on June 20, 1879.
11. Sir John A. Macdonald to Lord Lorne, May 15, 1880, pp. 31605-8, vol. 81, Manuscript Group 26A, Sir John A. Macdonald Papers, NAC (hereafter Macdonald Papers); James F. Macleod to J. S. Dennis, August 9, 1879, pt. 1, file 8589, vol. 3652, RG 10, NAC; Clerk, Privy Council to Minister of Interior, September 22, 1879, ibid.; Manzione, "I am Looking to the North for My Life," 135-37.
12. Hugh A. Dempsey, Crowfoot: Chief of the Blackfeet (Edmonton, Alb., 1976), 115; D. L. MacPherson to Edgar Dewdney, May 22, 1881, pp. 1176-77, vol. 5, Collection M320, Edgar Dewdney fonds (hereafter Dewdney fonds), Glenbow; D. L. MacPherson to Edgar Dewdney, July 15, 1881, pp. 1172-75, ibid.
13. U.S. House, Report of the Secretary of War, 1879-1880, pt. 2:61-63; Joseph Manzione, "I am Looking to the North for My Life," 135; Edward Thornton to Marquis of Salisbury, October 13, 1879, pt. 1, file 8589, vol. 3652, RG 10, NAC; Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, 1881, no. 14, p. 81; James F. Macleod to Deputy Minister of the Interior, November 24, 1879, pt. 1, file 8589, vol. 3652, RG 10, NAC.
14. J. W. Schultz, My Life as an Indian: The Story of a Red Woman and a White Man in the Lodges of the Blackfeet (New York, 1907), 378.
In 1869-1870 Riel led the Métis resistance against the Canadian governments acquisition of the Hudsons Bay Companys territory.
15. Acheson G. Irvine to Officer Commanding, Fort Assinniboine, June 14, 1882, pp. 580-83, vol. 2235, Record Group 18, Royal Canadian Mounted Police fonds, NAC (hereafter RG 18); Edwin Allen to Edgar Dewdney, October 15, 1880, file 24827, vol. 3726, RG 10, NAC.
16. Granville Stuart, Forty Years on the Frontier, as seen in the Journals and Reminiscences of Granville Stuart, ed. Paul C. Phillips, 2 vols.
(Cleveland, 1925), 2:153-4. Canadian authorities dismissed Stuarts claims as exaggerated. Lord Lorne to [unknown], n.d., file 28748-1, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC; Edgar Dewdney to Sir John [A. Macdonald], October 26, 1881, pp. 89596-604, vol. 210, Macdonald Papers, NAC; Dempsey, Big Bear, 93, 97-99; Dempsey, Crowfoot, 124-25.
17. Cecil E. Denny to Assistant Indian Commissioner, December 6, 1881, file 29506-2, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; James F. Macleod to J. S. Dennis, December 1, 1879, pt. 1, file 8589, vol. 3652, ibid.; Edgar Dewdney to Sir John A. Macdonald, December 24, 1879, pp. 89310-12, vol. 210, Macdonald Papers, NAC; Thomas Flanagan, Louis "David" Riel: Prophet of the New World (Toronto, 1979), 105-6.
18. John C. Ewers, "Ethnological Report on the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy Reservation and the Little Shell Band of Indians," in Chippewa Indians, vol. 6 (New York, 1974), 77. See also Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (Washington, D.C., 1879), 98; Fort Benton (Mont.) Benton Weekly Record, July 16, 1880.
19. W. L. Lincoln to E. A. Hayt, June 16, 1879, pt. 1, file 8589, vol. 3652, RG 10, NAC; U.S. House, Report of the Secretary of War, 1879-1880, pt. 2:70.
20. John L. Tobias, "Canadas Subjugation of the Plains Cree, 1879-1885," Canadian Historical Review, 64, no. 4 (1983), 527-28; Carter, Lost Harvests, 111-12; A. B. McCullough, Papers Relating to the North-West Mounted Police and Fort Walsh (Ottawa, 1977), 68.
21. Dempsey, Big Bear, 100; Edwin Allen to Edgar Dewdney, May 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Elliot T. Galt to Edwin Allen, May 20, 1881, ibid.; Elliot T. Galt to D. L. MacPherson, July 14, 1881, pp. 89498-503, vol. 210, Macdonald Papers, NAC.
22. Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, 1881, no. 14, pp. 105-7.
23. Elliot T. Galt to Wadsworth, July 13, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Elliot T. Galt to Lawrence Vankoughnet, July 13, 1881, ibid; Thomas P. Wadsworth to Elliot T. Galt, July 28, 1881, pp. 89552-53, vol. 210, Macdonald Papers, NAC; Thomas P. Wadsworth to Elliot T. Galt, July 31, 1881, pp. 89557-58, ibid.; Thomas P. Wadsworth to Elliot T. Galt, August 8, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC.
24. R. N. Wilson diary, August 11, 20, 1881, Manuscript Group 29 E47, NAC; Elliot T. Galt to Superintendent General of Indian Affairs
August 23, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Battleford (Sask.) Saskatchewan Herald, May 23, 1881; Thomas P. Wadsworth to Elliot T. Galt, July 25, 1881, pp. 89546-50, vol. 210, Macdonald Papers, NAC.
25. Wadsworth to Galt, July 25, 1881; Acheson G. Irvine to Frederick White, August 14, 1881, pp. 260-67, vol. 2186, RG 18, NAC; Thomas P. Wadsworth to Lawrence Vankoughnet, August 29, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, 1881, no. 3, p 33. Other rationale given for closing Fort Walsh included the unsuitability of the surrounding countryside for agriculture, the poor condition of the fort, the lack of white settlement in the region, and its dependence on Fort Benton merchants for its supplies. Critics argued that too much government money was being funneled into the hands of American merchants.
26. Fort Benton (Mont.) Benton Weekly Record, August 18, September 15, 29, November 17, 1881; Paul F. Sharp, Whoop-Up Country: The Canadian-American Wests, 1865-1885 (Norman, 1973), 234; Burlingame, Montana Frontier, 267-68. Dewdney disputed allegations that Canadian Indians were responsible for the majority of depredations in northern Montana. See Edgar Dewdney to Sir John [A. Macdonald], October 26, 1881, pp. 89596-604, vol. 210, Macdonald Papers, NAC.
27. U.S. House, Report of the Secretary of War, 47th Cong., 1st sess., 1881, H. Doc. 1, pt. 2:110; Thomas Ruger to Officer Commanding, Fort Assinaboine, September 14, 1881, folder 3, box 1, Manuscript Collection 46, Fort Assiniboine Records (hereafter Fort Assiniboine Records), Montana Historical Society Archives, Helena (hereafter MHS). See also Record of Events, Fort Assiniboine, October 1881.
28. Record of Events, Fort Assiniboine, October 1881; Gustavus Doane to [his wife], October 13, 22, 1881, Small Collection 28, Gustavus Doane Papers, MHS (hereafter Doane Papers).
29. Edgar Dewdney to Cecil E. Denny, October [2], 1881, file 33527 vol. 3768, RG 10, NAC; Cecil E. Denny to Edgar Dewdney, November 1, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, ibid.; Cecil E. Denny to [Edgar Dewdney], November 9, 1881, ibid; W. L. Lincoln to R. L. Morris, November 2, 1881, folder 3, box 1, Fort Assiniboine Records, MHS.
30. Denny to Dewdney, November 1, 1881; Cecil E. Denny to [Edgar Dewdney], November 9, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; John H. McIllree to Commanding Officer, Fort Assinaboine, September 14, 1881, pp. 344-45, vol. 2235, RG 18, NAC; Cecil E. Denny to Indian Commissioner, November 16, 1881.
31. Lawrence Vankoughnet to Sir John A. Macdonald, December 13, 1881, file 29506-1, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Privy Council to Minister of the Interior, June 3, 1881, pt. 1, file 8589, vol. 3652, ibid.; Edward Thornton to Earl Granville, May 16, 1881, file 28748-1, vol. 3740, ibid.; Alexander Campbell to [Privy Council Office], September 13, 1881, ibid.
32. Lieutenant Colonel de Winton to Privy Council, March 3, 1882, file 28748-1, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC; Edgar Dewdney to Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, March 27, 1882, ibid.
33. Fort Benton (Mont.) Benton Weekly Record, March 16, 23, 30, 1882.
34. [L. S. Sackville West] to Marquis of Lorne, February 28, 1882, file 28748-1, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC; Record of Events, Fort Assinniboine March 1882; U.S. House, Report of the Secretary of War, 47th Cong., 2d sess., 1882, H. Doc. 1, pt. 2:85-87, 94-95; Fort Benton (Mont.) Benton Weekly Record, March 30, May 4, 1882; Gustavus Doane to [his wife], July 10, 13, 1882, Doane Papers, MHS. See also U.S. House, Report of the Secretary of War, 1882, pt. 2, pp. 83-92, for a summary of these maneuvers for 1882.
35. Acheson G. Irvine to Frederick White, June 28, 1882, pp. 711-22, vol. 2186, RG 18, NAC; McCullough, Papers relating to the North-West Mounted Police, 72-3.
36. Tobias, "Canadas Subjugation of the Plains Cree," 530-31; Battleford (Sask.) Saskatchewan Herald, May 27, June 24, 1882.
37. Acheson G. Irvine to Edgar Dewdney, September 23, 1882, file 29506-2, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, 1883, no. 23, pp. 4-5; Carter, Lost Harvests, 122-23.
38. Augustus Jukes to Frederick White, October 17, 1882, file 29506-2, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Edgar Dewdney to Acheson G. Irvine, October 27, 1882, ibid.
39. Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, 1883, no. 23, p. 4; John H. McIllree to Indian Commissioner, June 21 1882, file 2589, vol. 3604, RG 10, NAC; Acheson G. Irvine to Edgar Dewdney, June 24, 1882, pp. 1193-1200, vol. 5, Dewdney fonds, Glenbow; Irvine to Officer Commanding, Fort Assinniboine, June 21, 1882, pp. 620-22, vol. 2235, RG 18, NAC; Acheson G. Irvine to Frederick White, June 28, 1882, 711-22, vol. 2186, ibid.
40. Allan MacDonald to [unknown], November 11, 1882, file 29506-3, vol. 3744, RG 10, NAC; Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, 1883, no. 5, p. xi.
41. Frederick J. Frelinghuysen to L. S. Sackville West, December 20, 1882, file 8, vol. 1004, RG 18, NAC; A. R. Macdonell to Commissioner, North-West Mounted Police, January 20, 1883, file 24A, ibid.; A. R. Macdonnell to Acheson G. Irvine, November 30, 1883, file 28748-1, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC; Thomas H. Ruger to Adjutant General, April 25, 1883, file 28748-2, ibid.
42. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (Washington D.C., 1882), 105, 110; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affair, 1879, lix; John C. Ewers, The Blackfeet: Raiders on the North-Western Plains (Norman, 1958), 294.
43. William Rowe to Thomas H. Ruger, March 23, 1883, file 28748-1, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC; Guido Ilges to Assistant Adjutant General, April 8, 1883, file 28748-2, ibid; Fort Benton (Mont.) Benton Weekly Record, March 24, 1883; W. L. Lincoln to Guido Ilges, April 3, 1883, file 28748-2, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC; John Young to Thomas Ruger, April 4, 1883, ibid.
44. Frederick J. Frelinghuysen to L. S. Sackville West, April 17, 1883, pt. 4A, file 2001, vol. 319, series G21, Record Group 7, Office of the Governor General of Canada fonds, NAC; Edgar Dewdney to [Privy Council Office], April 1883, file 28748-1, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC.
45. Ilges to Assistant Adjutant General, April 8, 1883; Acheson G. Irvine to Edgar Dewdney, December 24, 1883, file 28748-2, vol. 3740, RG 10, NAC; Dempsey, Big Bear, 112; Hayter Reed to Indian Commissioner, December 28, 1883, file 10644, vol. 3668, RG 10, NAC. Prior to 1880, only one Indian man was convicted and sentenced for horse stealing. The severity of sentencing Indians for this crime increased dramatically after 1880. See Brian Hubner, "Horse Stealing and the Borderline: The NWMP and the Control of Indian Movement, 1874-1900," in The Mounted Police and Prairie Society, 1873-1919, ed. William Baker (Regina, Sask., 1998), 63-64.
46. Dempsey, Big Bear, 112; Canada, House of Commons, Sessional Papers, 1884, no. 4, pp. 98-99; ibid., no. 125, pp. 15-16; David Lee, "Foremost Man and his Band," Saskatchewan History, 36 (Autumn 1983), 100.
47. Blair Stonechild and Bill Waiser, Loyal Till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion (Calgary, 1997), 190-91, 194; U.S. House, Cree Indians, Montana, 49th Cong., 1st sess., 1886, H. Doc. 231, 2-3; Superintendent General of Indian Affairs (SGIA) to Privy Council, January 26, 1887, file 36563, vol. 3774, RG 10, NAC.

 

 

From Montana The Magazine of Western History, 52 (Winter 2002), 2-17; this article is presented courtesy of the Montana Historical Society.  All rights reserved, © 2002.