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Almighty Voice

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      AUGUST 1973      v03 n06 p06  
Shu-Kwe-weetam, or Almighty Voice, was the name of a young brave in One Arrow's Band at the Duck Lake agency. He was the son of John Sounding Sky, who played a prominent role with Riel's force's in the Rebellion of 1885.

By the age of 21, Almighty Voice had already gained the reputation of a lover of women, a hunter who was an excellent marksman, and a swift runner who was difficult to catch even under the most favorable conditions.

Historical accounts of the events surrounding Almighty Voice's arrest in 1895 for the slaughter of a cow vary. Some accounts say Almighty Voice was arrested when he slaughtered a stray cow for his wedding feast. Dan Kennedy, in his book "Recollections of an Assiniboine Chief", says Almighty Voice slaughtered the cow to feed his brother's sick child. Almighty Voice had first approached the Indian Agent for permission to slaughter the cow but was turned down, according to Chief Kennedy. Under the Indian Act, Indians then, and for many years later, could not sell or dispose of anything they owned without permission from the agent.

In any case, for his slaughter of the cow Almighty Voice was arrested by the Mounties on orders from the Indian agent and placed in a police guardroom at Duck Lake to await trial. With him were another Indian man and an Indian woman.

By Chief Kennedy's account, a police guard told Almighty Voice in jest that workmen erecting the framework of a building next door were "erecting a scaffold from which you will be hanged next morning".

That night while the guard slept Almighty Voice escaped and made his way back to One Arrow, swimming the ice filled Saskatchewan River in order to get there.

A week later, Sergeant Colebrook of the Mounties and a Metis guide caught up with Almighty Voice and his wife near Kinistino. Colebrook, ignoring warnings from Almighty Voice, tried to arrest him and was shot through the heart, dying instantly.

For the next year Almighty Voice was hunted through the length and breadth of western Canada and the area in central Saskatchewan remained under constant vigilance by police, but their efforts were futile despite the offer of a reward of $500 for Almighty Voice's capture. Clearly the Indian and Metis people of the area were sympathetic to the young warrior and he remained free.

Then in May of 1897 as North West Mounted Policemen visited the One Arrow reserve to investigate a cattle theft they spotted some Indians on a nearby bluff. An officer went closer to investigate and was shot through the arm.

The next day reinforcements returned to the spot and caught sight of three Indians hiding in some undergrowth on the side of a hill. Three officers went forward to investigate but two were wounded by gunfire and had to turn back.

Efforts were made to set fire to the bluff but when that failed, the posse decided to rush the bluff. The results were disasterous Two Mounties and a civilian postmaster were shot dead and another man wounded.

During the night the hill was surrounded to prevent the escape of the three men. That night the three warriors on the hill, Almighty Voice, Little Saulteaux and Dublin, taunted the police, inviting them to send supper since the Indians had a good fight that day and were hungry.

The next day police moved in seven and nine pound cannons and shelled the bluff. Just when police assumed the Indians were dead, a crow overhead was shot by one of the Indians and so the shelling continued.

The next morning a party of 90 Mounties and a group of civilians from Duck Lake advanced on the hill where they found Almighty Voice and Little Saulteaux dead in the pit where they had made their last stand. The body of Dublin was found some distance away.

The whole episode, spanning some 19 months, ended with three Indians dead, three Mounties dead, one civilian dead and two wounded men.