Saturday, May 25, 2019

Historians credited: Stonechild and Waiser on Poundmaker

In the coverage of the acknowledgement that Cree Chief Poundmaker was guiltless in the events of the 1885 resistance in Saskatchewan, it was good to see foregrounded the way that historians Blair Stonechild and Bill Waiser and their book Loyal Till Death were essential in setting the record straight and setting the federal government on the path toward this exoneration.  From a CBC story:
Stonechild, an Indigenous professor at the First Nations University of Canada, and Waiser, a non-Indigenous historian, teamed up two decades ago to publish Loyal till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion. They used oral history from elders, trial transcripts, government records and newspaper articles to dispel myths about First Nations involvement in the rebellion. Their research revealed that Poundmaker, like most First Nations leaders, wanted to pressure Ottawa in a non-violent way to honour treaty promises.
Nice to see that after more than twenty years, Loyal Till Death remains in print from Fifth House Books of Calgary.

The DCB biography of Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Poundmaker), by Hugh Dempsey, which was published in 1982 and cites no sources more recent than the 1960s, could use an update, but it concludes, "Not until the rebellion hysteria had passed was Poundmaker belatedly recognized as a man who had never abandoned the peacemaker’s role and had fought only in defensive actions." Actually, not for a while after that in many quarters.
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