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The Saskatchewan Indian: A Tribute To Great Saskatchewan Indian Leaders

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE 1971      v02 n05 p02  

As ominous storm clouds grumbled overhead, the wail of a new-born boy child rang through the lodge of a Cree family on the Saskatchewan plains.

Lightning lit the countryside and the infant was given the name "Flash in the Sky Boy"--the first of many names to be borne by the Cree Chief, Piapot.

One day, the far riding warriors of the band to which Flash in the Sky Boy belonged chanced upon a solitary white man, lost and close to death. With the best of intentions they carried the ailing frontiersman to their camp where his illness was recognized as smallpox, the scourge of the West. In panic the lodges scattered to the four winds, leaving behind the youngster and his grandmother. Some days later, a Sioux war party discovered the old woman and her charge and the two were carried off to the land of the Dakotas. There the boy grew to young manhood.

In his fourteenth summer a Cree raiding party struck the Dakota camp. Flash in the Sky's grandmother ran toward her countrymen, shouting in her native tongue. She was recognized and she and the boy were restored to their own people. Henceforth, Flash in the Sky Boy was to be known as "Hole in the Sioux" or "The Sioux Piapot.

Because he had seen examples of the avarice of white men while among the Sioux. Piapot was ever after suspicious of the overtures of the friendship made him by Europeans, and lived to the end of his days an Indian in whom the spirit of independence and freedom burned with undiminished ardor. Yet it could be truly said that once his word was given, it was his bond.

He is buried on a hill overlooking the valley where he last resided.


When the west was still young and the Plains Tribes roved the grasslands in their incessant quest for game, the measure of a man's importance was read in the number of lodges that composed his personal retinue. None they say, had a greater following than Mistawasis, or Big Child, head chief of the northern plains Cree.

Many a time, in the days of his young manhood, Mistawasis had met in contest with Crowfoot, the most valiant of the Blackfoot and they seem to have become, paradoxically amicable rivals. Mistawasis held Crowfoot in high regard, and Crowfoot's people called the Cree chief, "The Iron Buffalo of The Plains".

Mistawasis was the first member of the northern tribe, to be presented to Governor Morris, and was first to sign Treaty number Six at Fort Carlton. He was one of four Cree chiefs sent east to attend the dedication ceremonies at the Joseph Brant Memorial in October of 1886. So impressed was he by what he saw in Eastern Canada that he said he wished to learn all the white man knew, and when an inspection of reserves was carried out in 1888 he was found to be one of the most advanced, the residents there raising grain and cattle.

It is said that Mistawasis daily raised and lowered the flag presented to him by the government after he had offered to bring his band to the defence of Prince Albert when it was threatened by Louis Riel. When he died, in 1903, at more than 100 years of age, his family flew the standard at half mast.