A Horse and Saddle Is Waiting In Heaven!

English: Photographic portrait of Crowfoot, He...
English: Photographic portrait of Crowfoot, Head Chief of the Blackfoot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


One of the most pathetic stories in Canadian history is about the signing of Treaty Number Seven with the Blackfoot Indians on September 22, 1877.  Chief Crowfoot insisted that the meeting take place at Blackfoot Crossing on the Bow River, near present-day Cluny.  Four thousand Indians came: Blackfoot, Blood, Piegan, Stoney and Sarcee.  Some wore little more than war paint and a breach-cloth.  They sat on the ground with the chiefs in front, then the head men, and braves, with women and children in the rear.

Canada was represented by David Laird, Lieutenant-Governor of the Northwest Territories.  The negotiations took five days, and the treaty which resulted was better than those which preceded it.  Each chief was promised a horse, wagon and harness.  There was a medicine chest for each band and a grant of $1,000 for three years for provisions to those Indians who engaged in farming.  An important additional clause assured the Indians of aid in times of pestilence or famine.

Crowfoot, the leader, was one of the greatest Indians who ever roamed the prairies.  When he died, Will Rogers said he was sure there would be a horse and saddle waiting for him in Heaven.  While the negotiations were taking place, the Indians were fed by the Government, but Crowfoot would not take anything.  He did not want it said that he had been influenced by gifts of food or tea.  Finally he made a speech to Governor Laird:   “I hope you will look upon the people of these tribes as your children and that you will be charitable to them.”  He thanked the Northwest Mounted Police who, he said, “have protected us as the feathers of the bird protect it from the frosts of winter.”

When the Indians were paid their treaty money, they bought what they wanted from the traders and went to the reserves that had been created for them.  Within three years, the buffalo had disappeared and the once proud owners of the plains were reduced to killing their horses for food.

“If the Police had not come to the country, where would we be all now?  Bad men and whiskey were killing us so fast that very few indeed of us would have been left today.  The Police have protected us as the feathers of the bird protect it from the frosts of winter.  I wish them all good, and trust that all our hearts will increase in goodness from this time forward.”  – Crowfoot, 1877

To read more about today’s post, I suggest visiting the Blackfoot Crossing, and the My Hero.com, as well as the Canadian Encyclopedia, and finally a very interesting site, the Cowboy Country TV.



  1. I’m aware of course that any culture will have its legacy of violence and even unspeakable brutality. But there are two values attributed to First Nations, and rightly embraced by them in their heritage, that I deeply deeply regret are absent in ‘general broad culture’ that came to dominate North America with arrival of Europeans.

    One is reverence for nature including mindfulness ‘to the 7th future generation’, and the other is a quality of honor of word – best described as in stark contrast the dominant culture’s “forked tongue” practices.

    The statements attributed to Crowfoot are exquisitely eloquent. While my ‘bloodline heritage’ is strictly Northern European, I have a long association “with the land”. I suspect I do ‘know’ something of the place he was coming from.

    The Juggernaut of stronger technology and ambition could not have been stopped. However, now that this Juggernaut has delivered us to early 21stC global environmental disaster and economic ruin for many – surely we’ve “had our run”. Surely, now, we might gain from wisdom advising us to think even of the 7th generation ahead of us, and insight on “forked tongue” deceptions.


  2. Soldiers and police are often sent in to do the dirty work and at times show a lot more humanity than the people we elect to office. Life is sad especially when two ways of life collide. I’ll say this knowing it may get me into trouble but all across the globe people with better technology and greater numbers trample over others. The indian story is no different from the ones played out since history began. As far as we know, the indians happened to be the first to migrate to the new world. They changed their environment, had wars and killed bison in very wasteful ways. Just like the rest of us they were no angels and just like the rest of us had leaders who sometimes sold them out. People act like European settlers invented alcohol but the Apache made their own twizin and they got wasted on it. We’re all flawed. Moral corruption exists in every man.


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