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Mr. Dan Kennedy was one of the diminishing links that bridged the old and the new generations. On February 7, 1973, at the age of 98, he passed away quietly in his sleep at 1:00 a.m. at the Wolseley Hospital.
He left behind his beloved wife Olympe, whom he married on November 27, 1899; a family of four generations, and friends and associates who mourned his passing.
Ochankugahe was born in Cypress Hills of the Assiniboine tribe in the 1870's. In 1882 the Assiniboines were moved from Cypress Hills to the reserve allotted to them by virtue of the Treaty with the Crown. It is worth noting that this procession of native people passed over the Prairies where Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Regina are now cities.
Their arrival at their reservation, 'Carry-the-Kettle', was greeted with the littered remains of skulls and skeletons, a grim reminder of a smallpox epidemic which killed two large tribes of Cree Indians in the 1840's.
Ochankugahe entered into the Indian Industrial School at age 10 in 1886, and in 1891 was transfered to St. Bonniface College in Winnipeg by Bishop Tache, where he finished his education.
After leaving College he became employed at the Tribal Office at Fort Peck, Poplar, Montana, from 1896 to 1897.
Returning to Canada in 1898, he was employed as a Band office clerk under Mr. Aspen, Indian Agent of Carry-the-Kettle.
On November 27, 1899, he married Olympe Milton who was attending Lebret Industrial School at the time. He was 25 years old and she 19.
In 1902 they built their first house made of logs and made their living farming 600 acres of land and raising livestock. In 1914 he built his first lumber house, and another in 1922, which he and his wife resided in to the present day.
During his Lebret School days his name was changed to Dan Kennedy.
The life of Mr. Kennedy began to change at this time and continued throughout his lifetime. He saw the transformation of the once great buffalo country to an agricultural empire. Civlization and industry zoomed in a short period of time from the buffalo days to the nuclear age. In order that his beloved Indian customs and traditions would not be lost and forgotten in the confusion, Mr. Kennedy wrote articles in the newspapers, gave talks on the radio, talked at schools, colleges and universities and wherever he was requested, on the Indian philosophy and the Indian ways of life. Shortly before his death he had an invitation again to speak at the opening of an important building in Regina, but he had to decline, for he was in ill health.
Many people will remember Mr. Kennedy in their hearts for a long time to come. The King and Queen sent him a medal in the 1950's, he received plaques and letters from many organizations and groups recommending him for his contributions to society on Indian culture in his drive to get the Government to recognize and deal with the poverty, sanitation, housing and disease epidemics on Indian Reserves.
He was deeply religious in the Assiniboine tradition. He believed that a person paid for his mistakes in this life and not in the hereafter. Mr. Kennedy often talked about the Happy Hunting Grounds, and if his belief is true, then he must be very happy.