Day 2 of a 365-Day Portait of Canada: Chief Crowfoot’s cairn near the Siksika Nation, Alberta


Chief Crowfoot's Cairn near his gravesite, by Cluny, Alberta

The Crowfoot Cemetery is a reverent place. Time seems to stand still on the top of that hill, and the rocks, grasses, cacti and small flowers hold the memory of many who walked before us. There is a palpable feeling in the air around that you are not alone, and that you are a part of something much larger than yourself. We spent a lot of quiet reflection time reading over the names of the individuals buried there. The graves are personal and many of them are loving tributes to those at rest. Some had artifacts like teddy bears and cowboy boots, while others were marked by an old piece of wood or a simple cross. Chief Crowfoot is buried with many others, overlooking a valley that stretches further than the eye can see.


 Crowfoot (c. 1830 –April 25, 1890) or Isapo-Muxika was a chief of the Siksika First Nation. Crowfoot was a warrior who fought in as many as nineteen battles and sustained many injuries. Despite this, he tried to obtain peace instead of tribal warfare. When the Canadian Pacific Railway sought to build their mainline through Blackfoot territory, negotiations with Father Lacombe convinced Crowfoot that it should be allowed.

In 1877 Colonel James Macleod and Lieutenant-Governor David Liard drew up Treaty Number 7 and persuaded Crowfoot and other chiefs to sign it. Canadian Pacific RailwayPresident William Van Horne gave Crowfoot a lifetime pass to ride on the CPR out of gratitude.

Though he was well respected for his bravery, Crowfoot refused to join the North-West Rebellion of 1885, believing it to be a lost cause. In 1886, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald invited Crowfoot to Ottawa. Crowfoot went, as did Three Bulls and Red Crow, but soon fell ill and had to return from Ottawa.

Crowfoot died of tuberculosis at Blackfoot Crossing on April 251890. (taken from Wikipedia). 


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