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The day the hangings took place all the Indian students at the Battleford Industrial School were taken out to witness the event. The reason for this was to remind them what would happen if one made trouble with the crown and to provide a lasting reminder of the white man's power and authority.
After the hangings the bodies were placed in a mass grave and buried. The grave remained hidden for years until recently some students, following old plans of the fort, located the grave site.
After the uprising in 1885 the guard room at Fort Battleford became quite inadequate to accommodate the large number of prisoners arrested. As a result a new stable was converted into a temporary prison. Among those confined were 54 persons brought to trial of which 7 received prison terms and 8 were sentenced to hang. 6 of those to be hanged were Indians of Big Bear's Band, who had taken part in the Frog Lake Massacre. They are:
In September and October the accused were tried by C. B. Rouleau, Resident Stipendiary Magistrate of Battleford. The hangings took place November 27, 1885.
The scaffold stood in the barrack square. The platform, 20 feet by 8 feet, 10 feet above the ground with railing enclosing the trap was reached by a stairway. From the beam hung 8 hempen ropes in readiness for the grim task.
It was 8 o'clock in the morning, silence suddenly fell on the whispering groups of civilians. The death chant from the doomed Indians ceased abruptly as a squad of N.W.M.P. rifles at support, marched up to form a cordon about the foot of the scaffold. Then came Sheriff Forget dressed in black, followed by the clergymen. Hodson, the executioner preceded the prisoners. There they came, hands tied behind their backs, with a policeman before, behind, and on either side of each. The only sound was the measured steps of the sombre procession. Sheriff, Clergymen, Interpreter, and hangmen mounted the scaffold. At the foot of the stairs the escort stepped aside and the prisoners ascended to the platform through a gate in the railing. The gate was closed and the prisoners took their places. While Hodson strapped ankles, the doomed were granted 10 minutes in which to speak if they wished, all doing so but Wandering Spirit.
Then all was ready. Black hoods were lowered; ropes adjusted, a deadly silence fell as Hodson stepped behind the line. The grating of iron; 8 bodies shot through the trap; and all was over. Some of the prairie's greatest braves had passed to the land of their fathers.
Mr. P. G. Laurie as coroner examined the bodies. They were dropped into rough boxes and buried in a grave on the hillside facing the Saskatchewan river not far from the N.W.M.P. barracks.
This story and others serve to illustrate the
Our ancestors were stripped of their rights
These hangings are a shame for all Canadians,
Historians don't record the starvation and
As Indian people we must seek to restore our
It's time we restored our past and culture to