Heritage Site / Ethnography Site / Cree / Demographics

Article: Early Reserve Period

At present [1936] the Plains Cree are settled on some twenty-four small reserves in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and on one reserve, Rocky Boy, in Montana. The Montana reserve was largely composed of those Plains Cree who fled to the United States after the Riel Rebellion of 1885.

The River People, cipiwiyiniwak, lived between the North Saskatchewan and Battle rivers, as far west as the present Alberta line. This was their usual locale, but they also hunted westward to the vicinity of Edmonton and went south to the forks of the South Saskatchewan. When the buffalo vanished from their country, they penetrated far into Montana in quest of the herds. This band was allocated to the Sweet Grass and Little Pine reserves of the Battleford Agency.

The eastern bands were given the collective name, mamihkiyiniwak, Downstream People. In this division were the Calling River People, Rabbit Skins, and Touchwood Hills People. The western group was known collectively by the name applied to the westernmost band natimiwiyiniwak, Upstream People. Besides the Upstream People proper, this division included the House, Parklands, and River People. The Cree-Assiniboin were sometimes included in the latter term, sometimes called paskwa wiyiniwak, Prairie People.