Fort Ellice was an important trading location and a central point on the Canadian prairies. Trails passed from it to every point. One went up the right bank of the Assiniboine to Fort Pelly, 140 miles to the north. Another passed to the west and threw off a branch when opposite Qu’Appelle, which passed through Qu’Apppelle and north to the Touchwood Hills. The main trail passed westward to Moose Jaw Creek and from thence to the Cypress Hills where it ceased or merged into another which followed the right bank of the South Saskatchewan from Batoche’s ferry to the country on the Milk River.
Another trail from Fort Ellice led to the southwest, by Moose Mountain to Wood Mountain, and was the usual route taken by the Indian and Metis hunters when going out for the buffalo. Other trails lead south towards Brandon House, the Turtle Mountains, and the Missouri buffalo plains.
These trails were seldom direct. Travelers had to meander from side to side according as wood and water could be found. Other, older Indian trails went from hill top to hill top so that buffalo could be seen.
In the rare occasion where any individual broke away from the band and hunted by himself, scaring the herd before the call to hunt was given, no notice was taken at the immediate time, but that night a party of ogichidaag would approach the man’s lodge and call him out. When he came, he was grabbed and his shirt was cut to shreds. He would then be flogged by the leader of the ogichidaag. When the punishment was over, the man would be asked if he would ever again violate custom by hunting ahead of the party. If he said no, he was freed. If he said he would, he would be driven from the camp.
If a man violating the rules agreed to follow the rules, but failed to honor his word, he might be killed or else his property would be smashed and destroyed, his lodge cut up, and he would be shamed publicly. If, after this chastisement, he truly repented, at the end of a few days the ogichidaag would go about the camp and collect new items for the man and restore his property so that he could take care of his family.
This system was learned and used by the Metis of Red River – most who came from Ojibwe families and spent significant time living and hunting with them. Much like their Ojibwe family, the Metis would elect hunt leaders and eventually enacted “laws of the hunt” which were based on the Ojibwe rules. The Metis rules of the hunt were as follows:
For more information:
Ross, Alexander (1855) The Fur Hunters of the Far West: A Narrative of Adventures in the Oregon and Rocky Mountains, Volume 1. Smith, Elder and Company,
Skinner, Alanson (1914) Political Organizations, Cults, and Ceremonies of the Plains-Ojibway and Plains-Cree Indians. the University of California
Cultural changes began to happen as well, with a blending of designs appearing in clothing, decorative beadwork, and other outward displays of material wealth. In 1820, Peter Fidler noted that many of the people he encountered were starting of decorate themselves in “very flashy” silver ornaments, necklaces made of wampum, arm and wrist bands with gorgets, broaches, and beadwork. More colors were used such as fancy leggings garnished with ribbons and beads, and other garish clothing items were employed to look (at all times) very “tastefully arranged”.
For more information, read: Peers, Laura L. (Laura Lynn). 1994. “Ojibwa Of Western Canada, 1780 To 1870.” Manitoba Studies In Native History. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press.
The first notice of smallpox occurs in the journals of La Verendrye on March 26, 1736. His journal entry records that a group of Cree, living near Winnipeg, had all died of smallpox. The extent of this particular epidemic cannot be ascertained from the single reference. However, the extinction of an entire band must surely have been accompanied by similar fatalities among other groups of the people.
Another epidemic between 1780-1783, is better documented. Fur trader accounts speak of great mass of burials and report that at least one-half of the Cree died. This epidemic affected almost every tribe in the region who were in contact with the Hudson Bay traders. Through trade and warfare, the disease had spread to every known part of the country.
An old Cree man whom explorer David Thompson encountered related that a Cree/Piegan war party had caught smallpox from the Snake Indians about 1780. More than half their number were killed by the disease. Thompson also related that, according to best information, the disease was caught by the Ojibwe and Dakota at about the same time. From them it spread further so that more than one half of all of the northern plains and forest fringe tribes died. In addition to the human death toll, Thompson noted a peculiar coincidence in the decline of animal species -- bison, deer, moose, and even wild fowl became scarce for a few years before the supply returned to normal.
Epidemics of smallpox seemed to happen about every thirty-five or forty years, with the next major epidemic of smallpox and measles happening from 1816 to 1818, greatly affecting the Cree and Ojibwe people.
While the majority of disease came from the east via voyageurs and the fur trade, one of the most famous outbreaks occurred between 1836 and 1840, when the American Fur Company steamboat S.S. St. Peter carried infected people and supplies into the upper Missouri Valley, bringing a new strain of smallpox from St. Louis to Fort Union. Tens of thousands of people died, and the disease spread to all corners of the upper Great Plains. Some bands, such as the Mandan, nearly became extinct as a result.
READ MORE: ANTHROPOLOGICAL PAPERS OF THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY VOLUME XXXVII, PART II, THE PLAINS CREE, BY DAVID G. MANDELBAUM (1940)
The bloody U.S.-Dakota War had been over for three years. Thirty-eight Dakota men had been hanged in Mankato. But white military and political leaders weren’t satisfied. They felt they had to hang two more...
Medicine Bottle and Shakopee had fled during the aftermath of the Dakota War of 1862 and had escaped across the Canadian border to Manitoba with more than 500 Dakota refugees from the war. Fearing death at the hands of the angry Americans, they tried to find a way to remain safe in Canada.
However, in January 1864, Shakopee and Medicine Bottle stopped by the home of a friendly white trader near Winnipeg’s Fort Garry. That Canadian trader, John McKenzie, was paid by the U.S. Army to help capture them. McKenzie drugged Shakopee and Medicine Bottle, then he and his men tied them up and transported them to the soldiers at Pembina. The Minnesota Legislature paid $1,000 to McKenzie as a bounty.
Kangaroo court trials were held and both Shakopee and Medicine Bottle were convicted despite no real evidence that they had committed atrocities. At noon on Nov. 11, 1865, 425 soldiers marched in formation to surround a specially constructed double gallows at Fort Snelling. More than 400 rabid white settlers turned out to watch the hangings of two Dakota leaders: Medicine Bottle and Shakopee.
This is why there is a remembrance for the 38 people hanged for the 1862 uprising... PLUS 2.
The idea of dying and coming back from the dead is not just a European phenomenon. Here are three near-death, or resurrection stories, that come from first-hand accounts of Anishinaabek who died and came back.
In one account, a man named Nαbagábek (Flat-Stone) died and lay dead for two days. He came back from the dead and described what had happened to him.
“All of a sudden, I found myself walking on a good road. I followed this road (djlbai ikαna, spirit [ghost] road). On it I came to a wigwam. I saw an old man there. He spoke to me. ‘Where are you going?’ he asked me, I told him, ‘I'm going this way.’ ‘You better stop and have something to eat.’ he said. I told him I was not hungry, and started off again. He came along with me. ‘I'll show you where your parents are staying,’ he said. While we were walking we came in sight of lots of wigwams, As far as I could see, there were wigwams. The old man pointed one of them out to me. ‘You go there,’ he said, ‘that's where your mother and father live.’"
“So I went there, I found my father in the wigwam. He shook hands with me and kissed me. My mother was not there. Soon she came in, and greeted me in the same way. My father called out, ‘Our son is here!’ After that a lot of people came in to see me. They asked about people on this earth. They wanted to know whether their friends were well. I told them that they were not sick. Then I was offered something to eat. But I could not eat. Some of these people that came to visit me had moss growing on their foreheads, they died so long ago."
“While I was talking, I heard three or four beats of a drumstick. They were very faint, I just barely heard them, they were so far away. All of a sudden I thought about coming back. I thought of my children I had left behind. I went outside the wigwam without telling my parents. I started back along the same road I had followed before. When I came to the old man's wigwam he was not there. I kept on walking along the road. Then I thought I heard someone calling me. I could hardly hear the voice and I could not recognize who it was. Finally the voice became plainer. I knew that I was getting nearer then. When I got still closer, I could hear my wife and children crying. Then I lost my senses. I could not hear anything more."
“When I opened my eyes and came to my senses it was daylight. But even daylight here is not so bright as it is in the country I had visited. I had been lying for two days. But I had traveled a long distance in that length of time. It is not right to cry too much for our friends, because they are in a good place. They are well off there. So I'm going to tell everybody not to be scared about dying.”
Another man, Caúwαnäs (One Who Travels with the South Wind), was once very ill, and was expected to die. But he recovered. Later he said to his brother's son: “I got pretty close to djibaiàking. I was on the road there.” He said there were lots of strawberries on the way, and one enormous strawberry. He said he could see the chunks that had been scooped out of it by passers-by. As he approached a village he could hear the voices of people shouting and laughing. But someone met him on the road and ordered him back. “You're not wanted yet,” he was told.
In another account, there was a man called Miskwádesīwískijik (Mud-Turtle's Eye). After being buried, he came back to life again.
His wife had visited his grave one day, and hearing a noise, had the grave dug up. She found her husband was alive. But he often acted strangely after this, as if he had not entirely detached himself from the spirit world. Sometimes in the summer, when it was getting dark, Mud-Turtle's Eye would say: “It's just coming daylight. There is going to be a game of lacrosse.” Then, instead of preparing for bed, he would dress himself and make ready to play the ball-game. As the night wore on and it got still darker he would make the motions of playing lacrosse, although he still remained in his wigwam. And he fell backwards all of a sudden and shouted, “the ball struck my forehead.” He would grab and, sure enough, there in his hands was a rock, shaped like a ball.
Reference: Hallowell, A. Irving (Alfred Irving). 1955. “Culture And Experience.” Publications. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
During the summer of 1882, Chief Little Shell III was angered by white settlers seeking to encroach upon his lands in the Turtle Mountains and infuriated at a tax collector who thought that he had the right to collect duty from the Ojibwe and Metis followers of Little Shell who freely crossed back and forth across the newly-created US/Canadian border. Little Shell’s territory crossed the white man’s border, and he made it known that any attempt to collect payment from his people on their own land would be dealt with in the harshest terms.
Little Shell had been away in Canada hunting with about 500 Metis followers (at Wood Mountain), and while he was away sub-chief Kaeespah had taken it upon himself to welcome white settlers to select land east of the Turtle Mountains, near St. John, North Dakota. Kaeespah felt that treating the white settlers with kindness would result in him being given his own reservation, so he allowed the settlers to cut trees and start building cabins for their families. Little Shell soon received word of what was happening and he rushed back to the Turtle Mountains to drive away the settlers from his land.
After threatening the settlers, who quickly left north towards Winnipeg, Little Shell demanded that a public notice be written on birch bark scrolls and nailed to trees in conspicuous places on the east side of the Turtle Mountains. The public notice read as follows:
“PUBLIC NOTICE: It is hereby forbidden to any white man to encroach upon this Indian land by settlement upon it before a treaty being made with the American government. July 1st, 1882.”
As punishment for allowing the white men to settle, Little Shell forced Kaeespah and his lieutenants to sign the notice.
At the same time he had driven the settlers from the Turtle Mountains, Little Shell made it clear to the customs collector that, in no uncertain terms, would he or his Metis followers pay duty when they crossed back and forth across the border. The collector had wanted $2,000 (about $50,000 in today’s dollars) from Little Shell and his men. Kaeespah paid about $200 from tribal funds and that is all that Little Shell allowed him to pay.
As punishment for his acts, President Chester A. Arthur signed an Executive Order on December 1, 1882, creating the Turtle Mountain Reservation. He hoped that by signing the order he could freely settle whites east of the reservation, under the pretense that they were not technically encroaching on Little Shell’s land. This led to further protests by Little Shell and culminated in further punishment of the Turtle Mountain people through the withholding and short-changing of annuities due to them, leading to mass starvation in 1887-1888, and the eventual signing of the 1892 McCumber Agreement (under duress).
SOURCE: July 28, 1882 (page 1 of 8). (1882, Jul 28). The Minneapolis Tribune (1877-1882).
The Oorang Indians were a traveling team in the National Football League from LaRue, Ohio (near Marion). The franchise was put together by Walter Lingo to promote his Oorang dog kennels. All of the players for the team were Native American, with Jim Thorpe serving as its leading player and coach. The team played in the NFL in 1922 and 1923.
Of the 20 games they played over two seasons, only one was played at "home" in nearby Marion. With a population well under a thousand people, LaRue remains the smallest town ever to have been the home of an NFL franchise, or probably any professional team in any league in the United States.
Jim Thorpe served as a player-coach and recruited players for the team. In keeping with Lingo's wishes that franchise be an all-Indian team, Indians from all over the United States traveled to LaRue to try out for the team. Many of the prospects were from Thorpe's alma mater, the Carlisle Indian School. Several of the candidates looking to make the team had not played in years and were older than 40.
Every team member had to prove to have at least some Indian blood. The Oorang Indians consisted of members who were Cherokee, Mohawk, Ojibwe, Blackfeet, Ho Chunk, Mission Indian, Caddo, Meskwaki, Seneca, and Penobscot. The team roster included such colorful names as Long Time Sleep, Woodchuck Welmas, Joe Little Twig, Big Bear, War Eagle, Thunder, and Thorpe.
The team finished the 1922 season with a record of 5–8 overall. In 1923, they won 2 games and lost 12.
While the Oorang Indians were an excellent gate attraction, Lingo didn't renew the franchise in 1924 due to a lack of financial backing.
Notably, John Baptiste Thunder (February 23, 1891 - December 17, 1935), a member of the Red Lake Nation played Tackle for the Indians during the 1922 season. Baptiste was the son of Joseph Thunder and Nancy Greely.
"History:The Oorang Indians". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
Willis, Chris. "Remembering the Oorang Indians" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Pro Football Researchers Association.
In about 1808, on the same day that the Dakota attacked the Ojibwe at Long Prairie (Minnesota) a large war party of Sisseton, Wahpeton, and Yankton attacked the Ojibwe village near Pembina, who were encamped under the leadership of Aise-ance (Chief Little Shell I).
The battle was quite fierce and despite being outnumbered, the Ojibwe made a firm resistance and succeeded in forcing the Dakota away from their encampment and the women and children there. As the fight raged on, the oldest son of the Aise-ance was killed and his body was stripped on a large British peace medal. The Dakota warrior then held up the medal and made a great war cry, shaking the medal in defiance of the Ojibwe. Aise-ance, who had not noticed the death of his beloved son, turned and saw what had happened. With a blood-curdling cry he rushed forward into the midst of the gathered Dakota warriors and shot down the warrior holding the medal at point blank range! The shocked Dakota stepped back and Aise-ance proceeded to cut of the entire head of his enemy. He then shook the head at the terrified Dakota, retreated holding it up in triumph, and soon reached a secure shelter behind a tree. The Dakota were so awe-struck that none of them were able to raise enough courage to shoot at Aise-ance until he was back to safety. Aise-ance then rallied his warriors and they fought with unusual fierceness, soon routing the Dakota who started a general retreat despite still outnumbering the Ojibwe.
After the battle was over, a young Ojibwe hunter named Tabushaw and his friend Bena headed out, against the advice of their families, and sought to ambush the Dakota in their retreat. The caught up to the Dakota and fired into their ranks. After shooting, Bena turned and ran back to Pembina, but Tabushaw stayed and continued to attack. He kept up the fight with the whole Dakota war party, but he soon was killed.
Following the battle at Long Prairie and the defeat at Pembina, the Dakota was put into full retreat by the Ojibwe across the Red River territory. As a result, they were forced to withdraw westward of the Red River and far to the south of the Mississippi, Minnesota, and Sheyenne Rivers. From this point forward, the Ojibwe were in firm control of the rich beaver dams of the Red River valley and were able to start hunting buffalo west to Devils Lake with the half-breeds from the Settlement.
 Warren, W. W., & Niell, E. D. (1885). History of the Ojibways, based upon traditions and oral statements. Saint Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society.
 Holcombe, R. I. (2016). Compendium of history and biography of polk county, minnesota (classic reprint). Place of publication not identified: Forgotten Books.
In the spring of, 1860, Charles Grant was encamped with a party of Ojibwe and Metis hunters on the Mouse River. In the middle of the night, twelve horses were stolen. No trace of the horses could be found.
Later that summer, a party of thirty-six Yankton Dakotas arrived at St. Joseph with the stolen horses for the purpose of returning them in honor of the Sweet Corn treaty. The delegation with the stolen horses arrived, opposite St. Joseph about two o'clock in the afternoon on June 10th; they immediately crossed the river to return them. Unfortunately a large party of Ojibwe warriors fired on the Dakota, who were in the act of entering J.B. Wilkie’s home to surrender the horses officially. Under fire, the Dakota took possession of the house, removed the "chinking" from between the logs, and returned fire.
During the heart of the battle, Mule – the son of the Red Bear – was shot three times in an attempt to enter the house to end the stalemate. Once at the door, he struggled to his feet, but he was stopped at the threshold by one of the Dakota who cleaved his head through to the chin with an axe.
The firefight lasted until midnight. A constant barrage of bullets was kept up between the Indians up until the very end. At midnight, the Dakota finally fled the house and rushed about two hundred feet to the river, and were compelled to wade across the river on foot.
When the fighting stopped, six Ojibwe, three Dakota, and two Assiniboine were killed. Wilkie's daughter was severely wounded in the thigh by an arrow. The Sioux left behind them thirty-two horses, (in addition to the twelve stolen ones). The Ojibwe cut up the bodies of their foes and burned them.
The Metis had refrained from taking any part in the fight and afterwards sent emissaries to the Dakota at Devils Lake to assure them they still honored the treaty. The Dakota accepted their peace, but promised that they would return to settle accounts with the Ojibwe in numbers like the mosquitoes.
In response to this brazen escalation in hostilities, the US Congress appropriated $50,000 for the erection of a fort at Pembina River to help keep the peace.
Source: July 12, 1861, (Page 6) of the New York Times: An Indian Fight.; BATTLE BETWEEN THE SIOUX AND CHIPPEWAS.
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities