Historians and Indigenous Genocide in Saskatchewan

By Robert Alexander Innes

As a result of the Calls to Action released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) the notion that Indigenous people endured cultural genocide has garnered much discussion. For many, who point to the number of children who died in residential schools, the use of ‘cultural’ genocide waters down the impact residential schools had on Indigenous people as cultural has come to be seen as a lesser form of genocide.  For them, residential school was outright genocide.  The term cultural genocide for Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term genocide, did not refer to a lesser form of genocide just another way genocide leads to the destruction of a people, which was the Lemkin’s original meaning of term. According to Benevenuto, Woolford, and Hinton after the Second World War genocide as a concept fell into disuse till the 1980s when a new generation of scholars began to engage with it. However, as they state, these scholars, ‘generally did not share Lemkin’s broad conceptualization of genocide.”[1]  Instead, these scholars, ‘tended to implicitly adopt the Holocaust as a conceptual prototype.”  Moreover, Benevenuto, Woolford, and Hinton state this resulted in ‘the trend of conceptually splitting genocide from cultural genocide…inhibiting a full discussion of colonial genocide.”[2]  As these authors state, “[s]een through the lens of the Holocaust, the broader public and many academics consider genocide to be the most extreme from of violence imaginable. According to this widespread view, including other forms of destruction beside mass murder risks diluting the meaning of the term.”[3] For Benevenuto, Woolford, and Hinton, and others, cultural genocide is the correct term.  Not because it signals a lesser form of genocide but because it is genocide.  I begin with mentioning this mainly because genocide and residential schools has received so much attention, and has also sparked discussion about other ways that genocide has occurred in Canada.[4]

These conversations are important, however, since there has been little discussion of the mass murder type of genocide of Indigenous people in Canada, a subtle message that has been conveyed through these dialogues is that mass killing of Indigenous people has not occurred here.  For example, neither historians nor the Canadian government have acknowledged that genocide occurred in the early 1880s in Treaty 4 territory; a genocide that killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of First Nations and Métis people. Many historians have detailed how the Canadian government implemented a starvation policy in the Cypress Hills in southwest Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta as a means to exert control over First Nations people in the region and force them to move to other areas.   It is difficult to understand why historians have not categorized the deaths caused by the starvation policy as a genocide when they all agree that the government knew prior to cutting off food rations many people were dying of starvation and have all said that the policy killed a large number of people. Some historians may be reluctant to equate the deaths of Indigenous people to the Holocaust while others may feel the numbers are not adequate enough to be considered genocide – even though they don’t really know how many died as there has been no attempt to find those numbers.  Whatever the reason, this paper will show that there is a way to ascertain the number of deaths and that the procedure to determine the number is actually just straightforward history.[5]  In outlining the context of the genocide and showing how one Saskatchewan First Nation, Cowessess First Nation, through negotiations for its Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) claim in the 1990s determined how many of its band members died, this paper asks, considering the number of historians who have looked at the starvation policy, why is it that none have done the work to determine the number of deaths the Canadian government caused from this policy?  To be clear, the argument put forth here is that the policy that has come to be known as the starvation policy was an act of genocide.

By the late 1870s, many chiefs in Treaty 4 and Treaty 6 region (signed in 1874 and 1876 respectively) had become dissatisfied with treaty implementation. Few chiefs had selected reserves, but instead gravitated to the Cypress Hills in search of the last buffalo herds. As complaints about the lack of treaty implementation increased, the standing of outspoken chiefs, such as Big Bear, Little Pine, and Piapot, also increased among the Saskatchewan bands.

Historians have not been able to conclusively determine how many Indigenous people exactly were in the Cypress Hills in the late 1870 and early 1880s. Maureen Lux states that over 4,000 followers of Big Bear and other chiefs went to the Cypress Hills, with thousands of others from Treaty 6 and 7 going there to obtain rations.[6] Hugh Dempsey estimates that, at this time, there were more than 5,000 First Nations people in the Cypress Hills region.[7] James Daschuk cites Indian agent M. G. Dickieson’s estimate that the total First Nations and Metis population in the North-West was 26,500.[8] According to John Tobias, the Cypress Hills contained more than 50% of the total First Nations populations from Treaty 4 and 6.[9] Michel Hogue states that by 1878 some 3,000 Metis people from Qu’Appelle, St. Joseph, St. Francis Xavier and St. Albert and elsewhere had gone to the Cypress Hills region.[10] Edgar Dewdney estimated in 1880 some 7-8,000 Plains Cree, Assiniboine, and Saulteaux people were in the Milk River region of Montana who were using the Cypress Hills as their base.[11] If these figures are correct, there could have been in the region between 13,000 and 16,000 Plains Cree, Assiniboine, Saulteaux, and Metis people maybe even more who would have been directly impacted by the starvation policy.

The large concentration of bands in the Cypress Hills greatly concerned government officials was added by the fact these were not the only First Nations people in the region. After the1876 defeat of Colonel George Custer by the Lakota and Cheyenne nations at the Little Bighorn, a group headed by Chief Sitting Bull, numbering close to 2,000, arrived in the Wood Mountain area, 30 miles east of the Cypress Hills. A year later, some 100 people from Chief Joseph’s Nez Perce managed to elude the U.S. cavalry and crossed the Canadian border to reach the Cypress Hills. In addition, to the west of the Cypress Hills were the Blackfoot, Bloods, Sarcee, and Peigan of the Blackfoot Confederacy.  The large population of First Nations and Metis people in the general area caused the government great concern.

In 1880, chiefs Piapot, Lucky Man, and Cowessess, and Assiniboine chiefs, Long Lodge and The Man Who Took the Coat, requested that their reserves be located in the Cypress Hills. This decision to locate their reserves there was influenced no doubt by newly appointed Indian Commissioner Edgar Dewdney’s promise to provide rations to compensate for the lack of game in the region. However, Dewdney’s promise came with conditions: he later announced that rations would not be provided to individuals who had not accepted treaty, and that the government would recognize as chief the leadership of any adult male who was able to garner a following of 100 people. These policies were designed to assert control over those chiefs who were agitating for revisions of the treaties. The policies had the effect that Dewdney wanted, as some leaders splintered large bands, creating new bands that were keen to revise treaties and accept Dewdney’s offer. Leaders like Big Bear who had not signed treaty, or other chiefs such as Little Pine, who had signed treaties but wanted them revised, refused Dewdney’s proposal. Dewdney also stated that bands whose chiefs had selected reserves in other regions would not receive their annuities until they had returned to those reserves (primarily in the Battleford, Fort Qu’Appelle and Crooked Lake regions). By the end of the summer of 1880, while a majority of the First Nations bands travelled to Montana to hunt buffalo, only Long Lodge and The Man Who Took the Coat bands had their reserve surveyed, while Cowessess had his reserve scheduled to be surveyed.[12]

As First Nations people returned to Cypress Hills in the summer of 1881 they learned of Dewdney’s conditions for the rations. The starving people were close to rioting if food was not distributed.  Given the mood of the people, the North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) had to acquiesce to their demands, to the displeasure of Dewdney and other government officials. Additionally, the Assiniboine chiefs who had taken treaty refused to accept their annuity payments until those from northern reserves received their annuities. Chiefs Lucky Man and Little Pine also requested that Thomas Wadsworth, the Inspector of Indian Agencies, “pay every native in the country.” Interestingly, the chiefs, as they did in the treaty negotiations, also made an appeal for their close Metis relatives at Cypress Hills to be allowed to enter into treaties.

Tobias notes that these tensions convinced Dewdney that the government could not afford to allow a large concentration of people in the region. [13] Dewdney therefore decided to close the agency farms, relocate farm instructors, and not survey the Cypress Hills reserves that had been promised to various bands, including bands whose members had already started to farm their land, such as Cowessess’ band. Even more significantly, Dewdney decided to close Fort Walsh, which had acted as the distribution centre for food rations. Together, these decisions instigated a policy of starvation aimed at subjugating the chiefs.[14] Dewdney did, however, allow annuity payments at Fort Walsh in November 1882. Nevertheless, the Indian agent, Allan McDonald, who would later become the Indian agent for Crooked Lake agency, expressed his desire to ‘punish’ the Indians, and he gave them barley enough rations to survive.

Dewdney’s starvation policy had a devastating effect on the First Nations population. Chief Big Bear had been forced to move his band to the Battleford region to establish his reserve. His band’s 21-day journey was arduous, as a majority of the 550 people had to walk. Hugh Dempsey, in his book about Big Bear, provides an account from Big Bear’s granddaughter of her experience on the journey: “The trek to our former home was a hard one to live through because of the lack of food and the scarcity of game. We traveled forever northwards and ran into a severe storm. Deaths were numerous. We stopped only briefly to bury our dead; amongst the victims were my mother and sister.”[15] Maureen Lux notes that 42 people from Piapot’s band and 31 from The Man Who Took the Coat’s band perished as a result of the starvation policy. However, Lux cites Norma Goodwill and Jean Sluman’s oral account that actually130 people died.[16]  Lux also provides an oral account from a reserve near Indian Head: “When they got here they were starving already.  So many were sick that a doctor from Indian Head was called. The doctor got mad at the agent and told him the people are starving.”[17] Dewdney, in his report to the Department of Indian Affairs, was pleased with the result that his starvation policy had had:

I look upon the removal of some 3,00 Indians from Cypress Hills and scattering them through the country as a solution of one of our main difficulties, as it was found impossible at times to have such control as was desirable over such a large number of worthless and lazy Indians, the concourse of malcontents and reckless Indians from all the bands in the Territories. Indians already on their reserves will now be more settled, as no place of rendezvous will be found where food can be had without a return of work being extracted, a fact which tended materially to create much discontent among those who were willing to remain on their reserves, as well as to increase the laborious duty of our agents.[18]

From Dewdney’s celebratory tone, it becomes abundantly clear that he viewed the famine and death experienced by Indigenous people as an efficient mechanism to achieve his goals.

In a 2014 interview for the Media Indigena podcast, host Rick Harp asked James Daschuk whether John A. Macdonald is comparable to Stalin or any other leader responsible for genocide through starvation policies. Daschuk did not answer the question.  He did however estimate that hundreds of Indigenous people died as a direct result of the starvation policy and perhaps thousands as a result of disease caused by the starvation policy. He correctly noted that no one knows for sure how many died as a direct result of the policy but then added that this was because no records were kept.[19] John Tobias, Maureen Lux, and Brian Titley who all studied the starvation policy do not to provide any hard figures for the numbers of deaths.

If there are no figures of the number who died from this policy, how can we know that the scale of the starvation can be characterized as genocide? Even though Tobias, Lux, Daschuk, and Titley all discuss the deaths that occurred, none of them, or any historian or genocide studies scholar, has been willing to use the term genocide in reference to what occurred in the Cypress Hills or in Treaty 4 and 6 territories as a result of the starvation policy. According to Andrew Woolford, there have been some who have been critical of Daschuk for not using the term genocide to describe what happened. Woolford defends Daschuck for not forcing that terminology into this context.

However, I do not believe this is a criticism that needs to be made. The fact that scholarship such as Daschuk’s is emerging to shed light on the complicated stories of destruction, resistance and resurgence that mark Canadian history is most welcome.  Indeed, because Daschuck does not set himself as both prosecutor and judge, and instead allows the historical record tell the story, his is a more convincing intervention in these debates than those who seek to impose a rigid Holocaust analogy onto the Canadian context.[20]

There are a few shortcomings with Woolford’s defense of Daschuk.  First, Daschuk’s discussion does not represent an emerging discussion on the starvation policy, as Maureen Lux states, “Daschuk recounts the now familiar narrative of how the Canadian government ignored its treaty promises to provide assistance and manipulated the delivery and distribution of food to further its colonising agenda.”[21] Paul Burrows too notes that Daschuk does not provide any new revelations, as he points out that, “Overall, Daschuk’s book is important less for unearthing new and surprising historical facts than for expanding upon, reinterpreting, and publicizing them.” [22] Though Daschuk offers little new in his book on the starvation policy, he does attempt to exonerate Indian Commissioner and NWT Governor Edgar Dewdney of any wrongdoing and by doing so contradicts all previous historians’ assessment of the role he played in this genocide. Nonetheless, clearly his book has reached a much larger audience than previous scholars’ works on the topic.

Also, contrary to Woolford’s assertion, historical records cannot by themselves tell a story. They need a historian to mould the documents in a way that allows them to craft a story that conveys certain messages. Historians assess the documents and make certain judgements about them. That is their job. Therefore, the relationship between historians and the historical record is not passive but rather one where historians actively and purposefully deploy the historical documents to convince readers of the validity of their argument. Historians too can be critiqued for the way in which they deploy and interpret or don’t interpret the documents.  Woolford’s dismissal of criticism against Daschuk for not calling the deaths caused by the starvation policy ‘genocide’ may apply to activists and to the general readers, however, no scholar has used the term genocide to describe the deaths at Cypress Hills, let alone have connected it to the Holocaust.

What becomes clear in examining Cowessess First Nations’ TLE negotiations, the question to be asked is not whether or not the starvation policy was genocide (it was), or whether there are ways to ascertain how many Indigenous people died (there are). The question that needs to be asked is: why have historians and other scholars not taken the acknowledged deaths seriously enough to look for the evidence that shows the enormity of this particular genocide?  Utilizing the research from Cowessess First Nation’s TLE negotiations provides a glimpse into the magnitude of the number of deaths that occurred due to the starvation policy.

The fulfillment of treaty land entitlement for southern Saskatchewan First Nations was a negotiated component of Treaties 4 and 6. At the time of signing, many First Nations did not receive the amount land to which they were entitled by treaty. The reserve size formula was tied to the band census, at 640 acres per family of 5, or 128 acres per person. The amount of acres each band received depended on their band census, as carried out by the government. However, because band population fluctuated – some people were following the last of the buffalo and others were moving between bands for social and economic purposes – the census could not capture accurately the make-up of the bands and often under-estimated the population numbers. Peggy Martin-McGuire asserts that, although “the history of each reserve is unique, once bands and individuals completed migrating, relocating, and settling, most reserves fell short of the required size.”[23]

Cowessess band was one of many that moved to the Cypress Hills in the late 1870s in search of buffalo. Chief Cowessess and Chief Piapot selected neighbouring land for their reserves and waited for them to be surveyed, especially after Long Lodge and The Man Who Took the Coat had their reserves surveyed. Meanwhile, in 1877, Cowessess’ headman, Louis O’Soup was able to gain 100 followers and gain recognition from the government as a Chief of his band, and led a splinter group to Crooked Lake, located in south-eastern Saskatchewan (along the Qu’Appelle river about ½ between Regina and Brandon, Manitoba) and had the O’Soup’s reserve surveyed. The surveyor set aside enough land to accommodate the remainder of Cowessess’ band members still at Cypress Hills that was expected eventually relocate to Crooked Lake.[24] Cowessess’ desired reserve at the Cypress Hills was never surveyed and because of the starvation policy, Cowessess was forced to relocate to Crooked Lake and merge his band with O’Soup’s splinter group. With the two groups merging, the amount of land at Crooked Lake was well short of the entitled land based on the formula of 128 acres per person.

The shortchanging of reserve land across Saskatchewan was widespread and after much lobbying from Saskatchewan First Nations, the federal government established the Treaty Land Entitlement (TLE) process as the mechanism for it and the province of Saskatchewan to fulfill their outstanding treaty land obligations to Saskatchewan First Nations. On September 22, 1992, 25 Saskatchewan First Nations signed the Treaty Land Entitlement Framework Agreement (TLEFA) with the federal and Saskatchewan governments.[25] In order to be included in the TLEFA, a band’s claims to treaty land had to be validated by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

For Cowessess, the process of validating its TLE was long and complex.  By the late 1980s, after many years of lobbying, Indian Affairs conceded that Cowessess did have a shortfall in allotted land; but in order to be eligible for validation, the band had to meet certain criteria. Terrance Pelletier, who worked as the TLE coordinator during the negotiations and later became chief of Cowessess noted, “It was not enough to find 10, 20 or 50 persons. It had to be a significant shortfall to qualify for a validated claim.” Indian Affairs used the annuity pay lists to substantiate the TLE claims. In the Cowessess TLE claim, a problem arose regarding which years were to be used to substantiate populations. Pelletier explains, “[T]here was a condition that made Cowessess TLE questionable from Indian Affairs’ point of view. It had to do with the date of the treaty pay lists that were used to determine the acreage from the date of first survey of the reserve. Whatever year the reserve was surveyed, that was the year that the pay lists were counted against the acres surveyed.”[26] The problem for Cowessess was that there were multiple surveys for the reserve. The first was completed in 1878 when the splinter group left, and the second was conducted in 1882 when Chief Cowessess brought the reminder of the band to Crooked Lake from the Cypress Hills. This issue was part of the stumbling block that prevented Cowessess from gaining validation in 1992.

In 1993, the band was able gain validation; however, this did not translate into a quick TLE agreement.  The federal government agreed that Cowessess had a significant shortfall. The reserve was surveyed in 1882 for 480 people, but based on their review of the evidence, Indian Affairs it determined that Cowessess band membership was actually 680, more than sufficient for a claim. Using the formula to calculate federal and provincial government compensation for First Nations, Cowessess was entitled to $27 million to purchase. Cowessess rejected the offer on the grounds that, they believed there were considerably more original members than 680 that the federal government maintained. Indian Affairs disagreed. They wanted Cowessess to substantiate its claim with the annuity lists. Using the pay lists proved to be very beneficial to Cowessess. [27]

Cowessess negotiators had noticed that there were many people who had accepted annuities for one year, but who then never again appeared on the pay lists. One of the stipulations of the TLE claim was that an individual had to appear on a band’s annuity pay lists in two consecutive years to be counted towards the claim. Cowessess argued that these people did not appear the second time because they had died. Indian Affairs speculated that the people might have gone to other bands, taken Métis scrip, or left Canada entirely to join relatives on American Indian reservations in Montana or North Dakota. Cowessess researchers determined that the people in question did not appear on any other band list in Canada or the U.S., nor in the scrip records. They also found no trace of them in the records of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which would have been an important source of income. Cowessess concluded that their disappearance from the historical records must have been linked to Dewdney’s starvation policy. Pelletier explains Cowessess’ position regarding the pay lists and Dewdney’s policies: “Cowessess claimed that these people died on the prairies during the year between treaty payments. It was a federal government policy at the time to withhold food or rations to certain Indians and Cowessess claimed was that the Indians starved on the plains because of it. We argued that the federal government should not benefit in that case because it was their own policy that killed them and they can’t benefit now by not paying Cowessess land benefits because Cowessess band members were dead and couldn’t show up for the pay lists counts.’[28]

The government, interestingly enough, decided not to challenge Cowessess’ claims and agreed to include those people whom Cowessess argued had died as a result of Dewdney’s starvation policy.  Though there is no indication why the government did not challenge Cowessess’ claim it could have been because they did not want the issue of the genocidal policy entering into the public realm.  So even though the government knew they would have to pay Cowessess a larger compensation payout package, it may have wanted to protect it’s national and international reputation. Whatever the case, after under going the time-consuming work of reviewing each name to determine the merit of their inclusion as Cowessess members, Indian Affairs proposed to accept half of the remaining names on Cowessess list without the review process. The benefit for Cowessess was that it fast-tracked the agreement and guaranteed a large settlement. Cowessess agreed. Pelletier concluded, “In that sense, Cowessess negotiated the TLE deal as opposed to hard numbers being the formula.” Cowessess TLE settlement, then, was based on a negotiated band population of 804, though band officials estimated that the population was as much as 1000.  As a result of the negotiated settlement, the federal and provincial governments paid Cowessess First Nations $46.6 million over 12 years.

Unlike historians of the starvation policy, Lou Lockhart as the consultant for Cowessess’  TLE claims case, did the painstakingly arduous task of combing through various archival documents, examining tables and lists in search for names of band members to match up against names on the original band census. It was from this research that Lockhart was able to determine that the Dewdney’s starvation policy caused the deaths of close to 320 Cowessess bands members – or 33% of the band’s population. At this point, it remains unclear what the total number of deaths were for the other bands at the Cypress Hills but if the death rate for the other bands was similar to Cowessess, there could have been between at least 1,500 and 5,300 deaths, all without a single gun being fired. This would not include the deaths by disease caused by starvation that Daschuk made reference to in his interview with Harp. This number is certainly comparable to the total combined deaths of Native Americans at the Sand Creek Massacre (163 –Colorado, 1864, Cheyenne/Arapaho), Washita Massacre (150 –Oklahoma, 1868, Cheyenne), Marias Massacre (217 – Montana, 1870, Blackfoot), and the Wounded Knee Massacre (150-300 – South Dakota, 1890, Lakota), and yet so few Canadians have heard about the deaths that occurred at Cypress Hills and certainly no one has acknowledged it as genocide.

There is enough evidence to suggest that the government understood the level of starvation occurring in the North-West in the 1870s and 1880s prior to the starvation policy being implemented and would have known about the repercussions of cutting off rations to Indigenous peoples. Lux, Tobias, Hogue, Daschuk, Hugh Demsey, and Sarah Carter all agree that the government had received numerous reports, letters, and other correspondence from various government officials in the field detailing the level of hunger and deaths resulting from lack of food. Dewdney himself had witnessed it when he first arrived in the North-West in 1879 to assume his duties as the Indian commissioner.[29] In addition, much of the correspondence contained pleas to the government to increase the rations to feed the people. In the 1880s the Canadian government knew the situation was dire – this is highlighted by the fact that rations were distributed in 1881 at the Cypress Hills to placate those who were starving and on the brink of rioting. Macdonald himself acknowledged that their famine relief was barely enough to sustain the people. As Lux points out, the prime minister stated in the House of Commons in 1882, a year after appointing Dewdney to both Indian commissioner and Lieutenant Governor, that Dewdney was in charge of famine relief, and that he was “refusing food until the Indians are on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”[30]

Clearly, if the government knew that the amount of food they were providing Indigenous people placed them on the verge of starvation, then it would have known that withholding food from starving people and then making many walk hundreds of kilometres would lead to deaths. This was the cost that the government was willing to pay to ensure the opening of the area to the CPR and to settlement. The decision to withhold food was without a doubt a premeditated act. Fears of an Indigenous presence in the Cypress Hills justified genocide. According to Tobias, Dewdney developed and implemented this genocide as a means to assert control over the Indigenous population. “Dewdney” Tobias states, “wanted to exploit the opportunity presented to him by the hunger crisis…”[31] and that he “hoped that starvation would drive them from the Fort Walsh area and thus end the concentration of their force.”[32] As Lux states, “The starvation at Fort Walsh was a cynical and deliberate plan to press the government’s advantage and force the Cree from the area to allow the government a free hand in developing the prairies.”[33]

Since the government accepted Cowessess’ argument that Canada could not benefit in the 1990s for the genocide it inflicted upon Cowessess members in the 1880s, it also cannot claim ignorance of genocide it enacted on all Indigenous people in the area. Nonetheless, it has chosen to remain silent. This silence prior to the signing of the TLEFA in 1992 and afterwards meant that no other First Nation had the opportunity to employ the genocidal starvation policy argument in their TLE negotiations. This no doubt favoured the government by minimizing its payouts in TLE claim settlements.  The Canadian government knew what it was doing in the 1880s and then choose not to acknowledge it since at least the 1990s, and even then not publicly or explicitly.  In the age of truth and reconciliation, any kind of meaningful reconciliation needs to include the Canadian government acknowledge the historical truth of genocide it committed against Indigenous people in Saskatchewan and for Canadians to become aware of what their government did to Indigenous people in order to open the west for settlement.

Historians need to tell the story that the data shows. They cannot tell the full story if they either do not present the data or look for it. The data that emerged out of the research Cowessess conducted for its TLE negotiations shows that they experienced genocide at the hands of the Canadian government. Cowessess was only one of many bands, thousands of Cree, Saulteaux, Assiniboine and Métis people, who were denied food when they were at their weakest. The use of the term genocide in this case is justified: the government had a stated reason to starve Indigenous people, and it knew what would happen if they withheld food from them. The number of deaths caused by the starvation policy demonstrates it. The genocide that took place in the 1880s in Saskatchewan has been erased from the provincial and national historical consciousness.  Sometimes decolonizing history does not mean, as Woolford and Benvenuto suggest for decolonizing genocide studies, opening ‘space for alternative epistemological and ontological frameworks” but rather it could simply mean historians asking the right kinds of questions and looking in the right places for the answers.


[1] Jeff Benevenuto, Andrew Woolford, and Alexander Laban Hinton, “Introduction: Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America,” in Colonial Genocide in Indigenous North America, edited by Andrew Woolford, Jeff Benevenuto, and Laban Hinton (Durham, NC: Dude University Press, 2014)

[2] Ibid 10

[3] Ibid, 2

[4] See for example: Woolford, Benevenuto, and Hinton, Colonial Genocide; Ken Coates, “Second Thoughts about Residential Schools,” Dorchester Review 4, no. 2 (2014); Crystal Fraser and Ian Mosby, “Setting Canadian History Right?: A Response to Ken Coates’ ‘Second Thoughts about Residential Schools,’” Active History (http://activehistory.ca/papers/paper-20/); Payam Akhavan, “Cultural Genocide: Legal Libel or Mourning Metaphor,” McGill Law Journal 62 (2016): 243-270; 25-19; Ronald Neizen, Truth and Indignation: Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools, Second edition (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017); J.ames R. Miller, Residential School and Reconciliation: Canada Confronts its History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017); Brieg Capitaine and Karine Vanthuyne, eds. Power Through Testimony: Reframing Residential Schools in the Age of Reconciliation (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2017)

[5] It should be noted that the editors of the Canadian Historical Review rejected this paper because I did not utilize original primary source research.  They mentioned that they would be interested in publishing the piece if I refocused the paper on the methodological issues that arise from the proceeding discussion and away from a critique of historians.

[6] Maureen Lux, Medicine That Walks: Disease, Medicine and the Canadian Plains Native People, 1880-1940 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 36

[7] Hugh Dempsey, Big Bear and the End of Freedom (Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 1984) Page number pending

[8] James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013), 107

[9] John L. Tobias, “Canada’s Subjugation of the Plains Cree, 1879-1885,” Canadian Historical Review 64, no. 4 (1983): 525

[10] Michel Hogue, Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People (Regina: University of Regina Press, 2015), 104

[11] Hogue, “Disputing the Medicine Line,” 8

[12] Hogue, “Disputing the Medicine Lines,” 10

[13] Tobias, “Canada’s Subjugation of the Plains Cree,” 530

[14] Ibid

[15] Dempsey, Big Bear: The End of, 114 (emphasize added)

[16] Lux, Medicine That Walks, 40

[17] Ibid. 41

[18] As cited in Robert Alexander Innes, Elder Brother and the Law of the People: Cowessess First Nation and Contemporary (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2013), 68

[19] Rick Harp interview with James Daschuk, Media Indigena. Originally recorded in 2014, replayed on May 5, 2017 http://mediaindigena.libsyn.com/ep-61-how-famine-became-canadas-original-indigenous-policy

[20] Andrew Woolford, “Ethnic Cleansing, Canadian Style Many myths are cleared away in the sober historical analysis” Literary Review Online (http://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2013/10/ethnic-cleansing-canadian-style/) Accessed July 18, 2017

[21] Maureen Lux, Review of Clearing the Plains: Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life by James Daschuk, Social History of Medicine Vol. 27, no. 2 (2014): 416 emphasis added.

[22] Paul Burrow, “Clearing the Plains Book Review” Biarpatch Magazine (March 10, 2014) Accessed: https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/clearing-the-plains-disease-politics-of-starvation-and-the-loss-of-aborigin

[23] Peggy Martin-McGuire, “The Importance of Land: Treaty Land Entitlement and Self-Government in Saskatchewan,” in Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada: Current Trends, edited by John H. Hylton (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 1999), 275

[24] Harold Lerat, Treaty Promises, Indian Reality: Life on a Reserve. (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 2005). 29

[25] For more information about the Treaty Land Entitlement process see: Martin-McGuire, “The Importance of Land,”; Peggy Martin McGuire, “Treaty Land Entitlement: “Treaty Land Entitlement A Context for the Creation of Urban Reserves,” in, Urban Indian Reserves:  Forging New Relationships in Saskatchewan edited by F. Laurie Barron and Joe Garcea (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 1996);  Brenda McLeod, “Treaty Land Entitlement in Saskatchewan: Conflicts in Land Use and Occupancy in the Wichekan Lake Area,” MA Thesis, University of Saskatchewan, 2001; Clifford Wright,  “Report and Recommendations on Treaty Land Entitlement, Presented to Roland Crowe, Treaty Indian Nations of Saskatchewan and the Honourable Tom Sidden Minister of Indian Affairs by Treaty Commissioner,” (Saskatoon: Office of the Treaty Commissioner, 1990) David C. Knoll, “Unfinished Business: Treaty Land Entitlement and Surrender Claims in Saskatchewan,” (Saskatoon: Native Law Centre, 1987) and Robert Alexander Innes and Terrance Pelletier,“ Cowessess First Nation: Self-Government, Nation-Building and Treaty Land Entitlement” in Aboriginal Self-Government in Canada: Current Trends and Issues, 3rd Edition, edited by Yale Belanger (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 2008)

[26] As cited in Innes, Elder Brother and the Law of the People, 181

[27] These pay lists, developed during the 1880s, were the means by which the government kept track of who had been paid their annuities, and contained certain information on each individual, such as year of payment, the individual’s name, location of payment, and the band to which the individual belonged. See McLeod, “Treaty Land Entitlement in Canada.”

[28] Ibid, 182-183

[29] Dewdney left details of the starvation in his dairy that Hugh Dempsey published and that Daschuk cited a number of times. See. Hugh A. Dempsey, ed. “The Starvation Year: Edgar Dewdney’s Diary for 1879, Part 1,” Alberta History 31, no.1 (1983): 1-15; – – -. “The Starvation Year: Edgar Dewdney’s Diary for 1879, Part 2,” Alberta History 31, no. 2 (1983): 1-12

[30] Lux, Medicine That Walks, 69-70

[31] Tobias, “Subjugation of the Plains Cree,” 530

[32] Ibid

[33] Lux Medicine That Walks, 38