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Significance of Treaties Reaffirmed Through Historic Royal Visit

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FALL 2001      v30 n03 p03  
Group photo

Bottom Row Left to Right: Chief Marie Anne Day Walker-Pelletier, Okaneses, Chief Harry Cook, Lac La Range, His Royal Highness, Prince of Wales, Chief Perry Bellegarde, FSIN, Elder Gordon Oakes, Nekaneet, Chief Austin Bear, Muskoday, Chief Henry Lewis, Onion Lake, Middle Row Left to Right: Chief Pierre Settee, Cumberland House, Chief Richard Poorman, Kawacatoose, Chief Rod King, Lucky Man, Fourth Vice Chief Lawrence Joseph, FSIN, Chief' Clifford Starr, Starblanket, Chief Gary Littlepine, Beardys Okemasis, Tribal Representative Tony Cote, Yorkton Tribal Council, Chief Gilbert Paniekeeisick, Sakimay , Chief Ben Weenie, Yellow Quill, Top Row Left to Right: Chief Denton George, Ochapowace, Tribal Chief George Lafond Saskatoon Tribal Council, Senator David Ahenakew, Chief Larry Oakes, Nekaneet, First Vice Chief Greg Ahenakew, FSIN, Chief Terrance Pelletier, Cowessess, Chief Louis Taypotat, Kahkewistahaw, Chief Barry Ahenakew, Ahthakakoop.

Photo On a sunny and warm afternoon, many Saskatchewan First Nation people, Chiefs and dignitaries had a rare and prestigious opportunity to meet with His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, during a private reception held at Wanuskewin Heritage Park April 28, 2001.

Although there was lot of concern and speculation about what would be discussed during the reception, the atmosphere was that of respect and honour by the Chiefs and His Royal Highness.

Chief Perry Bellegarde, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations was first to greet His Royal Highness. Chief Bellegarde introduced The Prince of Wales to various dignitaries and First Nation representatives and then the entourage of Chiefs, Elders, dignitaries, drummers and dancers escorted His Royal Highness into the Wanuskewin Gallery.

For the Chiefs of Saskatchewan this was a historical visit. It would be the first time The Prince of Wales met with First Nation dignitaries. His Royal Highness made it a priority to meet with Saskatchewan Chiefs during his time in Saskatchewan. Chief Perry Bellegarde commented "Saskatchewan First Nations are truly honoured at the significance of this meeting with His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales."

This meeting reaffirms the recognition of Treaties and Treaty Rights of First Nation's peoples. "This is an important and highly symbolic gathering at Wanuskewin. It demonstrates to His Royal Highness not only the historical significance of the Treaties, but the fact that even today First Nation people remain loyal to the Treaties and the nation to nation relationship with the Monarchy," Chief Bellegarde said.

Significance of Treaties Reaffirmed Through Historic Royal Visit

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      FALL 2001      v30 n03 p17  

During the reception each Chief and various First Nation representative had an opportunity to personally meet the Prince of Wales. Once everyone had their moment with the Prince of Wales, presentations were made to His Royal Highness on behalf of various territories.

Beginning the short agenda was Chief Bellegarde, who presented to His Royal Highness a star blanket and Treaty booklet. The Treaty booklet was specially made to commemorate his visit.

Representing the Saskatoon Tribal Council and district was Tribal Chief George Lafond, and Chief Austin Bear, Muskoday First Nation. Melvina Eagle a Dakota/Sioux Elder and Judge Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond presented to the Prince a painting on behalf of First Nations Women.

Chief Barry Ahenakew of Ahtahkakoop First Nation made quite an impression on His Royal Highness during his presentation. Chief Ahenakew was presenting Atahkakoop's newly published book "Ahtahkakoop - the epic account of a Cree Head Chief, His People and Their Struggle for Survival 1816 - 1896" that document the history of their reserve. The Prince noticed the outfit that Chief Ahenakew wore. It was an original Treaty issued suit that was given to Chiefs on Treaty Day as part of the customary annuity payments. Along with the very rare suit, Chief Ahenakew was complete with a Treaty #6 medallion. The Prince acknowledged the medallion as a significant part of the Crown's heritage and tells that there are many Indigenous nations throughout the world that still honour and respect the significance of these medallions.

Elder Ben Weenie, Chief Young Chippewayan First Nation with His Royal Highness, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatchewan.
Elder Ben Weenie, Chief Young Chippewayan
First Nation with His Royal Highness,
Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatchewan.

After the private reception the Prince of Wales was again escorted out to the Amphitheatre where Elder Gordon Oakes was schedule to give the Prince a special name. The name given "Kisikawpisim Kamiyowahpahmikott" translated from the Cree language means "the sun looks at him in a good way". This name was offered to the Prince as a gift. A name giving ceremony was performed the previous night at a special sweatlodge ceremony.

At the Amphitheatre, the Wanuskewin International Dance Toupee performed for the Prince of Wales before leaving for a private walk with Elder Ben Weenie. Ben Weenie is also Chief of Young Chippewayan First Nations. Along the walk, the pair talked about many things, the Treaties, First Nations customs, and traditions. The Prince even acknowledged some of his beliefs related to First Nation's connection to the land.

As First Nation people, 125 years after the first Treaty signing in this territory, has guided years of growth not only in Indian country, but also helped to shape the province of Saskatchewan. There were Treaties that were signed before there was a province of Saskatchewan and the visit from The Prince of Wales, His Royal Highness was an event that proves that First Nation's people have always had and maintain self-determinations through their own forms of governance.