1. Introduction

2. The Distant Past

3. First Nations

4. The Fur Trade

5. European Settlement

6. Notable People

7. Railway Era

8. Resources

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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 River.

They name likely of Cree or Ojibway origin, means  “Stoney Sioux.” They call themselves the Nakota Oyadebi, which is also the name of their language.

Assiniboine Indian Camp, Lac de Marons, Manitoba, July 17, 1874 July 17, 1874

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 live. 

Manitoba has no Assiniboine reserves, only individual members living off-reserve.


The region in 1825


The region in 1859

The Dakota

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 Saskatchewan.

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. 


A 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.

Two Dakota make their way along the Yellow Quill Trail. CREDIT: Town of Hartney Archival Collection