2. The Distant Past
3. First Nations
4. The Fur Trade
7. Railway Era
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|The First Nations
As we have seen, the Sourisford area has been home to many cultures,
and sits on trading routes that connected those cultures to others far
distant from here. At the time of European contact, and throughout the
Fur Trade era, several groups would use this particular area, It was
often visited by hunters from both Cree, and Ojibway people in the
centuries leading up to European settlement, but it was the Nakota,
whom the traders called the Assinboine, that LaVerendrye encountered on
his trips in 1838 and afterwards.
The Assiniboine (Nakota)
The Assiniboine, once members of the Yanktonai arm of the Dakota
Nation, were once a Nation 10000 strong that occupied a territory that
spanned the prairie provinces and parts of the northern United States.
They spent at least two centuries hunting bison on the Souris Plains,
and in later years actively participated in the fur trade on the Souris
They name likely of Cree or Ojibway origin, means “Stoney Sioux.”
They call themselves the Nakota Oyadebi, which is also the name of
Assiniboine Indian Camp, Lac de Marons, Manitoba, July 17, 1874 July
The decline of the herds, competition from other groups and the
devastation wrought by diseases like smallpox decimated their
population and they moved westwards where their descendants now
Manitoba has no Assiniboine reserves, only individual members living
The region in 1825
region in 1859
There are five Dakota bands in Manitoba today. While many of their
ancestors are descended from groups who came to Canada after an
unsuccessful uprising in 1862, and after the Battle of Little Bighorn
in 1876, Dakota people have been here for centuries.
Records kept by the Hudson’s Bay Company indicate that the Dakota were
active in Canada as far north as Churchill River in northern
A group of Cree living in this area called their village
Kimosopuatinak, meaning “Home of the Ancient Dakota,” which confirms a
strong Dakota presence here.
group of Dakota near Turtle Mountain
Sourisford is in territory covered by Treat #2.
The Yellow Quill Trail
The Yellow Quill Trail began as a trade route used by First Nations. As
European influence in southwestern Manitoba grew, explorers, fur
traders and buffalo hunters from the Red River Settlement found the
trail a convenient avenue of travel as well.
The Yellow Quill Trail takes its name from Chief Yellow Quill who was
chief over a band of Saulteaux First Nations living near Portage La
Prairie during the late 1800s. He is known for signing a treaty for
land allotment with the Canadian Government in 1875 and for being Chief
over two Indian Reservations: Swan Lake No. 7, and Long Plains No. 6.
There are mixed accounts as to the character of Chief Yellow Quill.
Some say that he was an arrogant leader who was uncooperative and not
always diplomatic. Others report that he was a highly respected citizen
of the prairies and a prominent figure in the early days of the Portage
La Prairie area.
Dakota make their way along the Yellow Quill Trail. CREDIT: Town of
Hartney Archival Collection