The Canadian Sioux

The Canadian Sioux

The Canadian Sioux

The Canadian Sioux

Excerpt

The Canadian Sioux are of interest to the historian for a variety of reasons. They have much the same status as “Treaty Indians,” although they have no treaties with the Canadian government. Their presence on Canadian soil is the result of two military campaigns. The first was the campaign of 1862-1863, by which General Henry H. Sibley and his troops put down the so-called “Minnesota Uprising.” It resulted in many Santees, or Eastern Sioux, plus a few Yanktonais, fleeing to the “Grandmother’s Land” (so named in reference to Queen Victoria), where they felt they would receive fairer treatment than they had experienced in the United States. These Santees and Yanktonais were the ancestors of the Sioux presently located on seven of the eight Sioux reserves in Canada today; namely, Sioux Village (and the Sioux segment of nearby Long Plain Reserve), Sioux Valley (formerly called Oak River Reserve), Birdtail, Oak Lake, Standing Buffalo, Round Plain, and White Cap (also known as Moose Woods). The eighth reserve, Wood Mountain, is populated by descendants of Sitting Bull’s band of Hunkpapas. These Western or Teton Sioux are a small remnant of a much larger group that fled to Canada following United States Army campaigns during the 1870s, best remembered in connection with the 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn. Both of these “wars” are still vital parts of the oral historical tradition of the Canadian Sioux, and accounts of episodes involving ancestors in one or the other are still preserved in family traditions.

From an anthropologist’s perspective the Canadian Sioux are of considerable interest as well. As Kehoe (1970:149) has noted, the refugee Sioux were enabled, both by the slow expansion of Canadian agriculturalists and the delaying actions of the Métis, to retain their freedom longer . . .

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