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When the Mounties Came : Mounted Police and Cree Relations on Two Saskatchewan Reserves

by Strom, Tracy Lee

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis explores the history of Mounted Police and Cree relations on two Saskatchewan Reserves: Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in the north-east of the province, and Poundmaker Cree Nation in the central south-western portion of Saskatchewan.

Sources include oral interviews of elders from each reserve as well as a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police records.

One of the main goals of this thesis is to present a Cree perspective on contact and interaction with the Mounted Police. Although police policies were supposedly the same towards all Indians, specific elements of the Mounted Police dealings were altered according to a variety of external influences. For example, different environmental features from one region to the other prohibited the adoption of agriculture in the north. Diverse patterns of Euro-Canadian settlement, concentrated in the north but widespread in the south, also influenced relations. In addition, differences in the two Cree groups forced the Mounted Police to realize that not all Indians were the same.

This thesis supplies a brief history of the two Cree groups to provide insight on the existing methods of Cree law enforcement long-established prior to the arrival of the Mounted Police, and the complexities encountered in adapting to the laws of the Canadian government. Consideration is given to the difficulties in creating a law enforcement group to police the newly acquired North West Territories, as well as the initial phases of Cree and police contact for each region.

Each region experienced its own history, which contributed to the relationship between the Cree and the Mounted Police. For example, in the Battleford region the 1885 Rebellion played a key role in denigrating the image of the Poundmaker Cree, whereas the Peter Ballantyne Cree experienced no such event which created such a negative image. Poverty, starvation, and disease among both Cree groups were unfortunate elements which resulted from police enforcement of certain detrimental government policies. All the same, the Cree perceived the police as "protectors", yet were fully aware that they were also forced to carry out the orders of the Canadian government. It is this delicate balance between duty and humanity that had the greatest impact on relations between the Cree and the Mounted Police in Saskatchewan.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Barron, Laurie; Miller, James R.

School:University of Saskatchewan

School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:cree law mounted police policy hudson bay company

ISBN:

Date of Publication:07/18/2008

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