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NORTHWEST PLAINS HISTORY

_______________________________________________________________________ | | | | | SOME EARLY HISTORY OF WESTERN CANADA | | This Year in History | | | | | | HERITAGE CONSULTING | | 718 T0M 0J0 CANADA | | 1-403-885-2991 | | | | Compiled by J. Fromhold | | | | Copyright as noted | | Uncited notations Copyright 1994 by J. Fromhold | -----------------------------------------------------------------------
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THE WAR OF 1812 IN WESTERN CANADA

In the summer of 1812 the United States of America invaded Canada with the intent of annexing it as another territory. As it turned out, not all Americans were enthused about it, and some of the military commanders - and soldiers - plainly refused; some on the grounds of having relatives across the borders, others on the grounds that there was nothing there but bush and hordes of mosquitos and Indians. In the end the Americans withdrew without achieving their objective. In military terms, the battlefield was left to the Canadians. Possession of the battlefield is the classic definition of Victory. Not only were the American Armed Forces repulsed by a bunch of Indian (and Metis and Courier de Bois) Savages, but they launched a retaliatory incursion which scorched the Government buildings in Washington so badly that they had to be re-painted and covered in whitewash - creating the White House. Canadians are familiar with the general story and that it was something that occurred "down east", as does everything of importance (there being no history in the west to speak of). Few are aware that it also involved the west, especially Alberta. In fact, the Northwest Company, the main non-native establishment in the west (the Hudson's Bay barely having a presence yet) volunteered it's entire western establishment to the war effort. Firstly, all NWCo staff employed by the many posts throughout the west would form the Home Guard Militia and enlist the Indians to protect these posts and their neighborhood from American adventurism. True, for the most part this had little impact in the west, where the nearest Americans were still 1,000 km. away. However, it did mobilize a credible defensive force in the Red River area and the frontier points to the east. Furthermore, the NWCo operated a wholy-owned subsidiary on the south of the Great Lakes and in Minnesota, which also came under the NWCo ruling. The Hudson's Bay Company also seconded it's border forts to the Home Guard and even sent Peter Fidler to build Fort Daer to protect the Metis settlement at Pembina, Minnesota. Of more direct impact was the secondement of almost the entire western contingents of voyageurs were seconded to support these frontier posts and the settlements and military posts on the Great Lakes. Two entire Service Corps were formed by the NWCo, the Corps of Voyageurs, and the Great Lakes Corps consisting of a total of three Regiments totaling over 2,500 men, headed by William McGillivray. As the western and northern contingents arrived in the annual canoe brigade at Fort William they suddenly found themselves 'Volunteered' to the war effort. Almost the entire Mackenzie, Peace River, Athabasca, English River, Columbia River and British Columbia departments were denuded of staff. Costs of equiping and keeping the force in the field was borne by the respective Companies. Officers of the Northwest Company were breveted to a military rank. Cameron, Duncan Officer Cameron, William D. Officer Fiddler, Peter Officer Finlay, John Officer Fraser, Simon Officer Grant, Cuthbert Jr. Officer Hughes, James Captain Macdonell, John Captain McDonnell, Alexander Officer McGillivray, John Officer McGillivray, Joseph Officer McGillivray, William Colonel Mackenzie, Roderick Officer McKay, William Officer McLeod, A.N. Major Rocheblave, Pierre de Captain Shaw, Angus Major Thomas, Thomas Officer Thompson, David Officer Wahnaton Capt Among the Indians the Chanoni Sioux of Minnesota were actively engaged, fighting the American forces at Prarie De Chien under "Captain" Chief Wahnaton. Among them was Sitting Bull's Granfather, who received a medal for his services. Sitting Bull cherished this medal to his dying day. The Regular military was not much impressed by the voyageur militias. It was said of the voyageurs and Meties that "there was much insubordination, pipe smoking, low bowing cortices, and talking and inquiry as to spousal's health, small talk. Even in danger they continued to laugh, not stopping their noisy tongues, no military seriousness." Metis, of course, were on both sides of the border; the Americans had much the same opinion of them. At Vincennes (Indiana) the Commander of the 4th Regiment complained of the Militia (mostly French-Canadian/ Metis) "...their dress was a short frock of deer-skin, a belt around their bodies, with a tomahawk and a scalping knife attached to it, and were nearly as destitute of discipline as the savages." Nontheless, they effectively held the supply lines and transported men and goods to and fro along the Great Lakes. Being Metis and Indian themselves - not to mention being related to half the Metis and Indians of the Great Lakes - they maintained a good raport with the local populations and served as a conduit of information to the military. It would be fair to say that the Corps of Voyageurs were the historic precendents of what is now the 1st Service Regiment and 1st Support Regiment of the Canadian Forces Land Forces West. These would be gone from home for 1-2 years, not returning home until late the following year or even the year after. Most returned home to their home regions and families. Major McLeod returned to his home at Dunvegan, on the Peace River, proudly sporting the red military tunic he had received as Major. This was in fact the first military red coat to be seen in the west. It has been said that when the Mounted Police were formed they were issued red coats because the Indians in the west had long developed a respect for the British "Redcoats". In fact few, if any, had ever seen a "Redcoat" or red military tunic. Their first exposure to them was during the 1870 Manitoba Rebellion - and their presence and behavior did not engender respect or endearment by the Indians. Red Coats, however, had long been a part of the Indian landscape. As early as 1670 the Hudson's Bay Company had been giving out red coats (with gold braid) to visiting and leading Indian Chiefs as gifts. This came to be a symbol of status (the traders themselves wore black or dark blue). Right from these early days Indians began to make clothing out of red cloth, it becoming especially prominent among the Cree and Blackfoot. Among the Cree it is called 'God's Cloth', and used in special services and funerary goods. Most of these western veterans of 1812 lived out their lives in their home communities. Most were buried in now unknown graves in now-forgotten settle- ments along the rivers of the west. A number of these officers and men were known to have been buried at the Rossdale Burial Area in Edmonton. Among them James Hughes and family, the wife of John McDonnell and the sister of Cuthbert Grant and ordinary voyageurs from numerous families. At one time these graves were marked, but the City of Edmonton removed, or allowed the removal of, these grave markers. Today their graves are unknown. Their graves may well have been destroyed and the remains dumped in land- fills, as has been done with dozens - if not hundreds - of the graves in this burial area. INTRODUCTION 150 YEARS AGO 200 YEARS AGO 250 YEARS AGO 300 YEARS AGO 350 YEARS AGO 400 YEARS AGO 450 YEARS AGO 500 YEARS AGO 500 YEARS AGO 1000 YEARS AGO Archaeology Family History Files Tribal History Files Local History Files Native Museums ============================================ | HERITAGE CONSULTING | ============================================ The history of the Northwest Plains is relatively unknown even among students of North American History. To enlightened the unwashed masses (mostly in residence at University and in the Department of Indian Affairs), we offer here a glimpse into that history. The Northwest Plains takes in the plains geographic areas of Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Dakota and Wyoming. The plains here grade into the parkland, woodlands and montane areas into which many of the Indian tribes overlapped. Hence, the Northwest Plains Cultural area overlaps into Idaho, Washington and British Columbia, and into the southern boreal forests of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Alberta, this Plains cultural area extended as far north as the Peace River-Lesser Slave Lake-Lac La Biche area. From here it swung southeastwards, passing north of the Assiniboin River and thence south-southeast bordering Lake Manitoba. First Nations tribes who frequented this area were: Atsina (Gros Ventre) Blackfoot Chipewyan Chippewa Cour D'Alene Cree (Asini Wachi Wininiwak 'Mountain People') Cree (Maskiki Nehiyawak 'Swampy Cree') Cree (Paskwa Wininiwak 'Plains People') Cree (Saka Wininiwak 'Woods People') Crow Flathead Iroquois (mixed with local Cree and Nakoda) Kutenai Metis (mixed-bloods) Nakoda (Chan Tonga 'Big Woods') Nakoda (Ye Xa Yabine, Hebina 'Mountain People') Nakoda (Plains) Pend d'Oreille Soto Tsuu T'Ina (Sarcee) Tza Tine (Beaver) Most of these tribes graded off from a true plains people into a true woodlands or plateau people at their farthest edges. The above tribes area arranged in an approximate order indicating roughly the degree of adaptation they had to the Plains culture. Among the Chipewyan, Tza Tinne, Chan Tonga, Maskiki Wininiwak and Saka Wininiwak, this repre- sents only a few bands of those tribes or tribal divisions. The only True Plains people were the Plains Nakoda, the Assiniboin of the Missouri River, followed by the Tsuu T'Ina and Blackfoot (Kainai, Siksika and Pikuni) in that order, all others being plains acculturated to greater or lesser degrees. Among the Paskwa Wininiwak a few bands were True Plains people, but most bands practiced a mixed culture that incorportated a summer plains lifestyle, a winter woodlands lifestyle, and seasonal subsitence peasant farming, similar to that of the Metis. Overlapping into the Northwestern Plains were several other tribal groups, most notably the Shoshone (who were driven off the plains northwest plains at an early date), Arapaho, Cheyenne, Yankton, Yanktonai and Lakoda. Although the Arapaho made occasional visits to their Atsina kinsmen (and some Blakfoot relations), most of time the presence of these tribes was in the form of raiding parties (this was, of course, reciprocated by the regional tribes - the Blackfoot for some decades dominating lands as far south as Arizona, and having been known to be in force as far distant as California). In later times the Sioux (including Santee, Yankton, Yanktonai and Lakoda) were pushed west into the northwest plains region and, after 1876 of course became a component tribe of the region, with their flight to Canada. Vague oral tradition states that a kinship link remained between the Tsuu T'Ina and Kiowa Apache, an earlier resident people of the area, and at least one record remains of a visit by a Pueblo Indian group to some Blackfoot friends. Please remember that information posted as documents on internet are copyright information and fall under the international Copyright laws. Please feel free to use the information, properly crediting the sources as is required under Copyright Law. We have prosecuted for improper and illegal use of copyright information. DID YOU KNOW: Canadians are one of the more rebellious people. Canada has averaged 1 rebellion every 50 years - not to overthrow the government, but to protest government policies. In all but 2 Canadians of Native ancestry played a prominent, if not leading, part. Wanna bet we don't do it again ? The United States (our good friend to the south) has invaded Canada 6 times - without success - being driven off by annoyed local militias and irregulars with some help from the regulars. Wanna bet the Yanks won't try again ? Canadians invaded the U.S. once, in the War of 1812, and burned Washington and New York. FIRSTS: Get real! The Maya just got tired of working out a 1,000 year calendar and chipping it out in stone. No interest - or need - to hammer out another 1000 year cycle. I have dozens of calendars where the world ends on January 31 of the following year. Survived the YK2 end of the world. Gave up on the End Of The World scenarios decades ago. 150 YEARS AG0 BIRTHS: ======================================================================== YEAR MONTH SURNAME FIRST NAME FATHER MOTHER LOCATION/AFFILIATION ======================================================================== 1862 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ From: Register of Births in Western Canada, Copyright 1994 J. Fromhold ========================================================================
================================================================= 1862 BIRTHS ===================================================================== ================================================================= 1862 DEATHS =====================================================================
200 YEARS AGO BIRTHS: ======================================================================== YEAR MONTH SURNAME FIRST NAME FATHER MOTHER LOCATION/AFFILIATION ======================================================================== 1812 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ From: Register of Births in Western Canada, Copyright 1994 J. Fromhold ========================================================================
250 YEARS AGO BIRTHS: ======================================================================== YEAR MONTH SURNAME FIRST NAME FATHER MOTHER LOCATION/AFFILIATION ======================================================================== 1762 PRE ------------------------------------------------------------------------ From: Register of Births in Western Canada, Copyright 1994 J. Fromhold ======================================================================== 300 YEARS AGO 1712 350 YEARS AGO 1662 400 YEARS AGO BIRTHS ======================================================================== YEAR MONTH SURNAME FIRST NAME FATHER MOTHER LOCATION/AFFILIATION ======================================================================== 1612 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ From: Register of Births in Western Canada, Copyright 1994 J. Fromhold ======================================================================== 450 YEARS AGO 500 YEARS AGO 700 YEARS AGO 800 YEARS AGO 1212 Mongol Migration 1000 YEARS AGO BIRTHS ======================================================================== YEAR MONTH SURNAME FIRST NAME FATHER MOTHER LOCATION/AFFILIATION ======================================================================== 1011 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ From: Register of Births in Western Canada, Copyright 1994 J. Fromhold ======================================================================== How to get more detailed information Search Return to Top of page Return to Heritage Databank homepage Continue to Canadian History directory Continue to U.S. History directory Continue to History Bibliography Continue to Eurasian Peoples directory Continue to Native Studies directory HERITAGE CONSULTING 718 T0M 0J0 CANADA Search