The history of the Dakota Sioux band that inhabits the Whitecap Reservation south of Saskatoon is intriguing. Realizing that the Dakota did not really dovetail with the largely Cree populations of this part of the prairies prompted me to do some research.
I discovered that the tribe fled Minnesota in 1862 after an uprising. Migrating west, Chief Whitecap and Chief Standing Buffalo led their tribes through several areas including the Red River area and then Fort Qu’appelle. Standing Buffalo took reservation there and the Whitecap tribe were eventually offered as reservation the lands on which they currently reside.
Chief Whitecap was instrumental in forging positive and trusting relationships with whites in the area, and legend says that he guided John Lake to the site that eventually became the city of Saskatoon.
There appear to be conflicting accounts of the Whitecap tribe’s involvement in the Riel Rebellion of 1885. The chief claimed he attended meetings with the rebels under duress while others claimed he was involved voluntarily. On the surface, it would seem highly unlikely that he would have led his people against those with whom he had forged such strong relations. Regardless, he was tried for treason and felony, but was acquitted of the charges.
To this day, the band is very progressive and successful. To learn more about the Whitecap Dakota First Nation and to view historical photographs, check out: