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Nēhiyaw camp near Vermilion, Alberta, in 1871
Total population
over 200,000
Regions with significant populations
Canada, United States
Cree, English, French
Anglicanism, Pentecostalism, Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Métis, Oji-Cree, Ojibwe, Innu

The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations/Native Americans in North America, with over 200,000 members living in Canada. The major proportion of Cree in Canada live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories. About 38,000 live in Quebec.[1]

In the United States, this Algonquian-speaking people historically lived from Lake Superior westward. Today, they live mostly in Montana, where they share a reservation with the Ojibwe (Chippewa).[2]

The documented westward migration over time has been strongly associated with their roles as traders and hunters in the North American Fur Trade.[3]


  • Sub-groups 1
  • Political organization 2
    • Historical 2.1
    • Contemporary 2.2
  • Name 3
  • Language 4
  • Identity and ethnicity 5
    • In Canada 5.1
    • In the United States 5.2
  • First Nation communities 6
  • Notable leaders 7
  • Other notable people 8
  • See also 9
  • Notes 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


The linguistic subdivisions of the Cree.

The Cree are generally divided into eight groups based on dialect and region:

  • Naskapi and Montagnais (together known as the Innu) are inhabitants of an area they refer to as Nitassinan. Their territories comprise most of the present-day political jurisdictions of eastern Quebec and Labrador. Their cultures are differentiated, as the Naskapi are still caribou hunters and more nomadic than the Montagnais, but the Montagnais have more settlements. The total population of the two groups in 2003 was about 18,000 people, of which 15,000 lived in Quebec. Their dialects and languages are the most distinct from the Cree spoken by the groups west of Lake Superior.
  • Attikamekw are inhabitants of the area they refer to as Nitaskinan (Our Land), in the upper St. Maurice River valley of Quebec (about 300 km north of Montreal). Their population is around 4,500.
  • Swampy Cree - this group lives in northern Manitoba along the Hudson Bay coast and adjacent inland areas to the south and west, and in Ontario along the coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay. Some also in eastern Saskatchewan around Cumberland House. It has 4,500 speakers.
  • Woods Cree group in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.
  • Plains Cree 34,000 people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Montana.

Collectively the Cree used the autonym Nēhilawē (those who speak our language).[5] They used "Cree" to refer to their people only when speaking the languages of the European colonists, French or English.[6] The Cree of the James Bay region of Quebec refer to themselves as "Eeyou" or "The People."

Political organization


As hunter-gatherers, the basic unit of organization for Cree peoples were the lodge, a group of perhaps eight or a dozen people, usually the families of two separate but related married couples, who lived together in the same wigwam (domed tent) or teepee (conical tent), and the band, a group of lodges who moved and hunted together. In the case of disagreement lodges could leave bands, and bands could be formed and dissolved with relative ease, but as there is safety in numbers, all families would want to be part of some band, and banishment was considered a very serious punishment. Bands would usually have strong ties to their neighbours through intermarriage and would assemble together at different parts of the year to hunt and socialize together. Besides these regional gatherings, there was no higher-level formal structure, and decisions of war and peace were made by consensus with allied bands meeting together in council. People could be identified by their clan, which is a group of people claiming descent from the same common ancestor; each clan would have a representative and a vote in all important councils held by the band (compare: Anishinaabe clan system).[7]

Each band remained independent of each other; however, Cree-speaking bands tended to work together and with their neighbours against outside enemies. Those Cree who moved onto the Great Plains and adopted bison hunting, called the Plains Cree, were allied with the Assiniboine and the Saulteaux in what was known as the "Iron Confederacy" which was a major force in the North American fur trade from the 1730s to the 1870s.

When a band went to war, they would nominate a temporary military commander, called a okimahkan, loosely translated as "war chief." This office was different from that of the "peace chief", a leader who had a role more like that of diplomat. In the run-up to the 1885 North-West Rebellion, Big Bear was the leader of his band, but once the fighting started Wandering Spirit became war leader.


There have been several attempts to create a national political organization that would represent all Cree peoples, at least as far back as a 1994 gathering at the Opaskwayak Cree First Nation reserve.[8]


The name "Cree" is derived from the Algonkian-language exonym Kirištino˙, which the Ojibwa used for tribes around Hudson Bay. The French colonists and explorers, who spelled the term Kilistinon, Kiristinon, Knisteneaux,[9] Cristenaux, and Cristinaux, used the term for numerous tribes which they encountered north of Lake Superior, in Manitoba, and west of there.[10] The French used these terms to refer to various groups of peoples in Canada, some of which are now better distinguished as Severn Anishinaabe (Ojibwa), who speak languages different from the Algonquin.[11]

Depending on the community, the Cree may call themselves by the following names: the nēhiyawak, nīhithaw, nēhilaw, and nēhinaw; or ininiw, ililiw, iynu (innu), or iyyu. These names are derived from the historical autonym nēhiraw (uncertain meaning) or from the historical autonym iriniw (meaning "person"). Cree using the latter autonym tend to be those living in the territories of Quebec and Labrador.[12]


The Cree language (also known in the most broad classification as Cree-Montagnais, Cree-Montagnais-Naskapi, to show the groups included within it) is the name for a group of closely related Algonquian languages spoken by approximately 117,000 people across Canada, from the Northwest Territories to Labrador. It is the most widely spoken aboriginal language in Canada.[13] The only region where Cree has official status is in the Northwest Territories, together with eight other aboriginal languages.[14][15]

The two major groups: Nehiyaw and Innu, speak a mutually intellligible Cree dialect continuum, which can be divided by many criteria. In a dialect continuum, "It is not so much a language, as a chain of dialects, where speakers from one community can very easily understand their neighbours, but a Plains Cree speaker from Alberta would find a Quebec Cree speaker difficult to speak to without practice."[16]

One major division between the groups is that the Eastern group palatalizes the sound /k/ to either /ts/ (c) or to /tʃ/ (č) when it precedes front vowels. There is also a major difference in grammatical vocabulary (particles) between the groups. Within both groups, another set of variations has arisen around the pronunciation of the Proto-Algonquian phoneme *l, which can be realized as /l/, /r/, /y/, /n/, or /ð/ (th) by different groups. Yet in other dialects, the distinction between /eː/ (ē) and /iː/ (ī) has been lost, merging to the latter. In more western dialects, the distinction between /s/ and /ʃ/ (š) has been lost, both merging to the former.

Victor Gollum lists Cree in the Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages as one of fifty five languages that have more than 1,000 speakers which are being actively acquired by children.[17]

Identity and ethnicity

In Canada

Cree Indian, taken by G. E. Fleming, 1903
Nehiyaw girl (1928).

The Cree are the largest group of First Nations in Canada, with over 200,000 members and 135 registered bands.[18] This large population may be a result of the Crees' traditional openness to inter-tribal marriage. Together, their reserve lands are the largest of any First Nations group in the country.[18] The largest Cree band and the second largest First Nations Band in Canada after the Six Nations Iroquois is the Lac La Ronge Band in northern Saskatchewan.

Given the traditional Cree opening to mixed marriages, it is acknowledged by academics that all bands are ultimately of mixed heritage and multilingualism and multiculturalism was the norm. In the West mixed bands of Cree, Saulteaux and Assiniboine, all partners in the Iron Confederacy, are the norm. However in recent years, as indigenous languages have declined across western Canada where there were once three languages spoken on a given reserve, there may now only be one. This has led to a simplification of identity, and it has become "fashionable" for bands in many parts of Saskatchewan to identify as "Plains Cree" at the expense of a mixed Cree-Salteaux history. There is also a tendency for bands to recategorize themselves as "Plains Cree" instead of Woods Cree or Swampy Cree. Neal McLeod argues this is partly due to the dominant culture's fascination with Plains Indian culture as well as the greater degree of written standardization and prestige Plains Cree enjoys over other Cree dialects.[8]

The Métis (from the French, Métis - of mixed ancestry) are people of mixed ancestry, such as Nehiyaw (or Anishinaabe) and French, English, or Scottish heritage. According to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Métis were historically the children of French fur traders and Nehiyaw women or, from unions of English or Scottish traders and northern Dene women (Anglo-Métis). Generally in academic circles, the term métis can be used to refer to any combination of persons of mixed Native American and European heritage, although historical definitions for Métis remain. Canada's Indian and Northern Affairs broadly define Métis as those persons of mixed First Nation and European ancestry, while The Métis National Council defines a Métis as "a person who self-identifies as Métis, is distinct from other Aboriginal peoples, is of historic Métis Nation Ancestry and who is accepted by the Métis Nation".[19]

In the United States

At one time the Cree were located in northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. Today majority live as part of the federally recognized Chippewa Cree tribe, located on the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation, and in minority as "Landless Cree" on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation and as "Landless Cree" and "Rocky Boy Cree" on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, all in Montana. The Chippewa Cree share the reservation with the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians, who form the "Chippewa" (Ojibwa) half of the Chippewa Cree tribe. On the other Reservations, the Cree minority share the Reservation with the Assiniboine, Gros Ventre and Sioux tribes. Traditionally, the southern limits of the Cree territory in Montana were the Missouri River and the Milk River.

First Nation communities

Illustration of a Snake woman (left) and a Nehiyaw woman (right), c. 1840-1843, Karl Bodmer

Notable leaders

  • Mistāwasis ("Big Child", also known as Pierre Belanger), Chief of the Parklands/Willow Cree (Paskokopāwiyiniwak), born about 1813. He was one of the influential leaders of the House Cree or Wāskahikaniwiyiniwak, supplied between 1852–1854 Fort Carlton with bison meat and pemmican, acquired in his youth by constant military conflicts the respect of Crowfoot, leader of the Siksika, the Blackfoot called Mistāwasis respectfully "The Iron Buffalo of the Plains")[21]
  • Ahtahkakoop (Atāhkakohp, "Starblanket"), Chief of the House Cree (Wāskahikaniwiyiniwak). He was born about 1815-16, signed together with his cousin, Mistāwasis in 1876 the Treaty 6 at Fort Carlton, where he agreed that his group were settled into a reserve near the present-day Prince Albert, died 4 December 1896 at the age of 81 years.[22]
  • Ahchuchhwahauhhatohapit or Ahchacoosacootacoopits (Acāhkosa kā-otakohpit, "[One who has] Star[s for a ]blanket",[23]) Chief of a band of Calling River Cree (Kātēpwēwi-sīpīwiyiniwak), born about 1845 in the lower Qu’Appelle Valley, son of Wāpiy-mōstōsis ("White Calf"), his tribal group was closely associated with the Ka Kichi Wi Winiwak under the leadership of Kakeesheway (‘Loud Voice’), and a close ally of Payipwāt ("Piapot"), leader of the Cree-Assiniboine or "Young Dogs", 1879 after the disappearance of the bison Ahchuchhwahauhhatohapit settled on a reserve in the File Hills of the lower Qu'Appelle Valley, died 1917 in the Star Blanket reserve, Saskatchewan)[24]
  • Payipwāt (or Piapot: "[One who Knows the] Secrets of the Sioux"), also known as "Hole in the Sioux" or Kisikawasan - ‘Flash in the Sky’, Chief of the Cree-Assiniboine or the Young Dogs with great influence on neighboring Assiniboine, Downstream People, southern groups of the Upstream People and Saulteaux (Plains Ojibwa), born 1816, kidnapped as a child by the Sioux,[25] he was freed about 1830 by Plains Cree, significant Shaman,[26] most influential chief of the feared Young Dogs,[27] convinced the Plains Cree to expand west in the Cypress Hills, the last refugee for bison groups, therefore disputed border area between Sioux, Assiniboine, Siksika Kainai and Cree, refused to participate in the raid on a Kainai camp near the present Lethbridge, Alberta, then the Young Dogs and their allies were content with the eastern Cypress Hills to the Milk River, Montana, does not participate at the negotiations on the Treaty 4 of 1874, he and Cheekuk, the most important leaders of the Plains Ojibwa in the Qu'Appelle area, signed on 9 September 1875 the treaty only as preliminary contract, tried with Minahikosis ("Little Pine") and Mistahi-maskwa ("Big Bear") to erect a kind of Indian Territory for all the Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwa and Assiniboine - as Ottawa refused, he asked 1879-80 along with Kiwisünce (cowessess- 'Little Child')[28] and the Assiniboine for adjacent reserves in the Cypress Hills, Payipwāt settled in a reserve about 37 miles northeast of Fort Walsh, Minahikosis ("Little Pine") and Papewes (‘Lucky Man’) asked successfully for reserves near the Assiniboine or Payipwāt - this allowed the Cree and Assiniboine to preserve their autonomy - because they went 1881 in Montana on bison hunting, stole Absarokee horses and alleged cattle killed, arrested the U.S. Army the Cree-Assiniboine group, disarmed and escorted them back to Canada - now unarmed, denied rations until the Cree and Assiniboine gave up their claims to the Cypress Hills and went north - in the following years the reserves changed several times and the tribes were trying repeated until to the Northwest Rebellion in 1885 to build an Indian Territory, Payipwāt remained under heavy guard, until his death he was a great spiritual leader, therefore Ottawa deposed Payipwāt on 15 April 1902 as chief, died in April 1908 on Piapot Reserve, Saskatchewan)[29]
  • Kee-a-kee-ka-sa-coo-way (‘The Man Who gives the War Whoop’), Chief of the Plains Cree, was in the middle of the 19th century the leading chief of the Plains Cree, had also a large following among the Plains Ojibwa around Fort Pitt, his sub-chief was Mukitou (‘Black Powder’), the father of Mistahi-maskwa.
  • Mistahi-maskwa (recorded as Mistihui'muskwa or as Mistahimusqua; better known as Big Bear in English and as Gros Ours in French), Chief of the Plains Cree, born about 1825, son of the Ojibwa leader Mukitou (‘Black Powder’), mastered his native language, the Cree language, as well as Ojibwe language, led the last resistance to the dispersal of the Cree on many reservations and asked for a big total reserve, a revolt of the young warriors under the leadership of one of his sons in 1885 destroyed these plans, died 17 January 1888 on the Poundmaker reservation in North Battleford in Saskatchewan.
  • Kapapamahchakwew (Kā-papāmahcahkwēw, Kapapa Machatiwe, Papamahchakwayo, French: ‘Esprit Errant’, better known as Wandering Spirit, war chief of the Plains Cree under Mistahimaskwa, born 1845 near Jackfish Lake, Saskatchewan, committed on 2 April 1885, the so-called Frog Lake massacre, killed the Indian Agent Thomas Quinn and eight whites and one Métis, surrendered in July at Fort Pitt, was hanged on 27 November 1885 in Battleford, Saskatchewan)[30]
  • Kamiokisihkwew (Miyo Kisikaw - Fine Day,[31] Chief of the Plains Cree, born 1850 in the Battle River region, died 193[?], was a shaman and war chief under Pitikwahanapiwiyin's River Cree, during the North-West Rebellion Battleford was sacked by River Cree, subsequently Fine Day was the leader of the uprising, defeated the Canadian army in the Battle of Cut Knife, later joined a group of Plains Cree under the leadership of Wīhkasko-kisēyin(‘Sweet Grass’)
  • Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Pîhtokahânapiwiyin - ‘Poundmaker’,[32][33] Chief of the River Cree, born about 1842 in the North Battleford Region in Saskatchewan; son of Sikakwayan (‘Skunk Skin’), a shaman of the Assiniboine and a Franco-Canadian Métis woman who was the sister of Mistāwasis ("Big Child"). Pitikwahanapiwiyin was chief of a band consisting of Plains River Cree (Sīpīwininiwak-paskwāwiyiniwak), Woods River Cree (‘Sīpīwininiwak-sakāwiyiniwak’), Western Woodland Cree (Sakāwiyiniwak) and Nakoda (Stoney), was adopted in 1873 by the Siksika chief Crowfoot as son, lived several years by the Blackfeet-name Makoyi-koh-kin (‘Wolf Thin Legs’) under the Siksika, returned to the Cree, became counselor to Pihew-kamihkosit (‘Red Pheasant’), was involved in the negotiations for the Treaty 6 in 1876 and went in 1879 in the Poundmaker reservation, later he participated in the siege of Battleford and the Battle of Cut Knife, died 4 July 1886 in Blackfoot Crossing, Alberta)[34]
  • Wīhkasko-kisēyin (Wee-kas-kookee-sey-yin, better known as Chief Sweet Grass, leader of the Plains Cree, his mother was a captured Absaroke, as he grew up he was also called Apisci-okimas- 'Little Chief', signed the Treaty 6 on 9 September 1876 at Fort Pitt, along with bands of Woodland Cree, Chipewyan, some Saulteaux, only a quarter of the participating groups were Plains Cree, while his successor as chief Wah-wee-oo-kah-tah-mah-hote ('Strike him on the back') signed the Treaty 6 at Fort Carlton on 28 August 1876 together with the Willow Cree, died 11 January 1877 in a shootout accident on the Plains, probably at Saint-Paul-des-Cris, Alberta)[35]
  • Peechee (Pesew - ‘Mountain Lion’, also known as Louis Piche), Chief of the Asini Wachi Nehiyawak and later the head chief of the 'Rocky/Mountain Cree' or Asini Wachi Wi Iniwak, born about 1821, introduced under the Asini Wachi Wi Iniwak to the Catholic rite, his three sons, Piyesew Chak, Keskayiwew('Bobtail') and Ermineskin were also significant leaders, Pesew and his elder son Chak Piyesew were killed during a gambling dispute in 1843, among his sons-in-law were Samson, Chiniki, Bearspaw, Capote Blank and Jacques Cardinal)[36]
  • Ermineskin (‘One with skin like an ermine’,[37] Sehkosowayanew, Sikosew Inew, also known as Baptiste Piche, Chief of the Bear Hills Cree (Maskwa Wachi-is Ininiwak), son of Pesew (‘Mountain Lion’), brother-in-law of Pitikwahanapiwiyin)[38]
  • Keskayiwew (Kiskiyew, Kiskiyo - Bobtail, also known as Alexis Piche, Chief of the Bear Hills Cree (Maskwa-wachi-is Ininiwak), son of Pesew (‘Mountain Lion’), brother of Ermineskin, became chief after the death of his older brother, was elected instead of Maskepetoon ('Broken Arm') to the chieftainship of the Rocky Cree and later became head chief of the Western Cree(‘Pakisimotan Wi Iniwak’) and soon after became the head chief of all the groups of the Upstream People)
  • [41]
  • Küpeyakwüskonam (Kupeyakwuskonam, Kah-pah-yak-as-to-cum - [42]
  • Minahikosis (Little Pine, French: ‘Petit Pin’, Chief of the Plains Cree, born about 1830 in the vicinity of Fort Pitt, Saskatchewan, his mother was a Blackfeet, became famous in the 1860s, as armed Plains Cree to find the last remaining bison, penetrated more and more into the territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, led three years bitter resistance, signed however, in view of his starving people in 1879 the Treaty 6, and moved into a reserve at the foot of Blue Hill along the Battle River, his reputation was comparable to that of Mistahimaskwa' ('Big Bear'))[43]
  • Papewes (Papaway - ‘Lucky Man’, Chief of the Plains River Cree (Sīpīwininiwak-paskwāwiyiniwak), born in the late 1830s near Fort Pitt, was in the 1870s a leader of Mistahimaskwa´s Plains River Cree, as the bison disappeared, signed along with Little Pine on 2 July 1879 for the 470 members of his tribal group an annex to the Agreement No. 6 at Fort Walsh, in vain he asked for a reserve in the Cypress Hills and the Buffalo Lake, so many members went back to Mistahimaskwa ("Big Bear") or joined Minahikosis ("Little Pine"), Papewes asked 1884 in vain a reserve adjacent to the reserves of Pitikwahanapiwiyin (' Poundmaker'), Minahikosis and Mistahimaskwa, during the rebellion of 1885 were the two groups of Papewes and Minahikosis scattered and some of their members fled in the U.S., 1886 settled the remaining members of the two groups in the Little Pine's reserve[44] died 1901 nahe Fort Assiniboine, Montana)[45]
  • Saswaypew (Sayswaypus, Seswepiu - ‘Cut Nose’, Chief of the Parklands or Willow Cree, son of Wimtchik, a Franco-Canadian Métis, married One Arrow’s sister Nawapukayus, his sisters Ayamis and Minuskipuihat were both married to ‘One Arrow’, Kamdyistowesit (‘Beardy’) and he were brother-in-law, because both were married to daughters of George Sutherland)
  • Maskepetoon (Maski Pitonew - ‘Broken Arm’, ‘Crooked Arm’, later called Peacemaker, Chief of a group of Rocky /Mountain Cree or Asini Wachi Wi Iniwak, born about 1807 in the Saskatchewan River region, because of his bravery he was called by the hostile Blackfoot Mon-e-ba-guh-now or Mani-kap-ina (‘Young Man Chief’), turned later to the Methodist missionaries, what him and his followers brought into conflict with the Catholic free Rocky Cree under the leadership of Pesew, moved to the reserve and was soon known as the Peacemaker, was killed in 1869 in a Blackfoot camp in Alberta by Big Swan, in an attempt to make peace between the two peoples unarmed.[46]
  • Pihew-kamihkosit (Pee-yahn-kah-nihk-oo-sit, better known as Red Pheasant, Chief of the Plains River Cree, brother and counselor to Wuttunee (‘Porcupine’), signed on 23 August 1876 on behalf of his brother Wuttunee the Treaty 6, he was then regarded as a "Treaty Chief" by the Canadian government, moved with his tribal group 1878 onto the present Red Pheasant Reserve, about 33 km south of North Battleford, Saskatchewan)[47]
  • Peayasis (better known as François Desjarlais, Chief of the Beaver River Cree or Amisk Sipi Wi Iniwak, a subgroup of the Woodland Cree (Sakāwithiniwak), born 1824 at the Beaver River, son of Ladoucoeur dit Desjarlais and Josephte Suzette Cardinal, signed on 8 August 1876 the Treaty 6, participated in battle of Battle River)
  • Kahkewistahaw, Chief of the Rabbit Skin Cree (Wāpošwayānak) and Saulteaux, signed in 15 September 1874 the Treaty 4, his tribal group was hunting in the area around Wood Mountain and the Cypress Hills and went back to the Qu'Appelle Valley once a year to get their payments and gifts until a reserve was established in 1881)[48][49]
  • Paskwüw (Paskwa, Pisqua, usually called Pasquah - ‘The Plain’; French: Les Prairies), Chief of the Plains Cree, born 1828, son of Mahkaysis, 1874 his tribal group were making their living with bison hunting in the vicinity of today's Leech Lake, Saskatchewan, they had also created gardens and raised a small herd of cattle, in September 1874 Pasqua took part in the negotiations on the Treaty 4 in Qu'Appelle Valley, he asked the Canadian government for the payment of £ 300,000 to the tribes, which the Hudson's Bay Company had received for the sale of Rupert's land to Canada, despite the refusal of Canada he finally signed the treaty and moved to a reserve five miles west of Fort Qu'Appelle, stayed out with his tribal group from the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, died in March 1889 he succumbed to the tuberculosis)[50]
  • Petequakey (‘Comes to Us With the Sound of Wings’, better known as Isidore Cayen dit Boudreau, Chief of the Parklands or Willow Cree at Muskeg Lake, born in St. Boniface, Manitoba, as son of Pierre Narcisse Cayen dit Boudreau and Adelaide Catherine Arcand (‘Kaseweetin’), though he was a Métis he became chief of the Willow Cree and the Métis, who were living with the Cree, brother and counselor to Kee-too-way-how (a.k.a. Alexander Cayen dit Boudreau), after Kee-too-way-how had left the reserve on the Muskeg Lake to live around Batoche, became Petequakey chief (1880–1889) of the remaining Cree and Métis living in the reserve, he participated on 26 March 1885 along with the Métis leader Gabriel Dumont at the battle at Duck Lake, thereafter he led his tribal group to St. Laurent to participate in the defense of Batoche, one of the largest Métis settlements and the seat of the Saskatchewan's provisional government during the rebellion)[51]
  • Kee-too-way-how (‘Sounding With Flying Wings’, better known as Alexander Cayen dit Boudreau, Chief of the Parklands or Willow Cree at Muskeg Lake, born 1834 St. Boniface, Manitoba, son of Pierre Narcisse Cayen dit Boudreau and Adelaide Catherine Arcand (‘Kaseweetin’), though he was of Métis descent he became chief of the Willow Cree and the Métis, who were living with the Cree, brother of Petequakey (‘Isidore Cayen dit Boudreau’), lived along Duck Lake, signed 1876 Treaty 6 and settled in a reserve at Muskeg Lake - that was later named after his brother Petequakey - but left the reserve in 1880 and lived again in the following years close to St. Laurent de Grandin mission, played a prominent role during the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 in which he participated in every battle, served also as an emissary of the Métis leader Gabriel Dumont to ask the Assiniboine for support, on 23 May 1885 he also submitted the declaration of surrender of Pitikwahanapiwiyin ('Poundmaker') to General Middleton, was captured on 1 June 1885, in the subsequent trial of Kee-too-way-how at Regina, Louis Cochin testified that he and the carters in the camp of Pitikwahanapiwiyin survived only thanks to the intercession by Kee-way-too-how and its people, despite the positive testimony, he was on 14 August 1885 sentenced to imprisonment for seven years for his involvement in the Métis rebellion, died 1886).

Other notable people

Mähsette Kuiuab, chief of the Cree ca. 1840-1843, Karl Bodmer

See also


  1. ^ "Culture Areas Index". the Canadian Museum of Civilization. 
  2. ^ "Gateway to Aboriginal Heritage". Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. 
  3. ^ Alexander Mackenzie, [1] Voyages from Montreal Through the Continent of North America to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans in 1789 and 1793.
  4. ^ a b Moose Cree First Nation community profile
  5. ^ "[T]heir native name", David Thompson, Travels in Western North America 1784-1812, Victor G. Hopwood, ed., Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1971
  6. ^ David Pentland, "Synonymy", in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 6, June Helm, ed., Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1981, p. 227
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ MacKenzie, Alexander. (1793) Journal of a Voyage from Fort Chipewyan to the Pacific Ocean in 1793.
  10. ^ David Thompson noted, "The French them 'Krees', a name which none of the Indians can pronounce...", "Life with the Nahathaways", in David Thompson: Travels in Western North America 1784-1812, Victor G. Hopwood, ed., Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1971, p. 109.
  11. ^ Adolph M. Greeberg, James Morrison, "Group Identities in the Boreal Forest: The Origin of the Northern Ojibwa", Ethnohistory 29(2):75-102 (1982)
  12. ^ David H. Pentland, "Synonymy", in "West Main Cree", in Handbook of North American Indians, v. 6, June Helm, ed., Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1981, p. 227.
  13. ^ Canada: 2006 Census
  14. ^ Northwest Territories Official Languages Act, 1988 (as amended 1988, 1991-1992, 2003)
  15. ^ "Languages of Canada", Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Note: The western group of languages includes Swampy Cree, Woods Cree and Plains Cree. The eastern language is called Moose Cree. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  16. ^ "Cree", Language Geek. Retrieved 21 September 2008.
  17. ^ C. Moseley (April 23, 2007), Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages (Curzon Language Family Series), Routledge, pp. 3–4,  
  18. ^ a b Source: Canadian Geographic
  19. ^ "Citizenship: The Métis Nation". Métis National Council. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ Mistawasis First Nation
  23. ^ not to confused with the Ahtahkakoop (‘Starblanket’), of the House Cree (Wāskahikaniwiyiniwak)
  24. ^ Ahchuchhwahauhhatohapit
  25. ^ Nehiyawak Leadership
  26. ^ by his knowledge of Sioux spirituality and medicine the Cree called him Payipwāt - 'One who knows the secrets of the Sioux'
  27. ^ they had more than any other Cree group adapted to the life on the Plains, were known as horse thieves and warriors, and as they drove little trade, they were feared by the Hudson's Bay Company as troublemakers
  29. ^ PAYIPWAT
  30. ^ Cree Nation
  31. ^ not to be confused with the Ojibwe leader Mino-giizhig ("Fine Day")
  32. ^ Poundmaker was given his name because he had a special skill in the construction of Buffalo Pounds for slaying of grazing bison.
  33. ^ Back to Batoche
  34. ^ Pitikwahanapiwiyin
  35. ^ Treaty 6 - The Signing
  36. ^ Peechee's Band
  37. ^ clue to his Métis descent, as the ermine fur is white in winter and brown in summer - as well as the skin of a Métis
  38. ^ The People Who Own Themselves
  39. ^ Beardy's Okemasis First Nation
  40. ^ was the daughter of George Sutherland’s first wife Papamikiwis (‘Swinger’)
  41. ^ Indians Who Fought in the 1885 Resistance
  42. ^ One Arrow
  43. ^ Little Pine First Nation
  44. ^ Lucky Man Cree Nation
  45. ^ PAPEWES
  46. ^ Maskepetoon
  47. ^ Red Pheasant First Nation
  48. ^ Kahkewistahaw First Nation
  49. ^ Kahkewistahaw band
  50. ^ PASKWÜW
  51. ^ Métis Who Withdrew From Treaty


  • Grant, Bruce (2000). The Concise Encyclopedia of the American Indian. New York: Wings Books.  
  • Stevens, James R. (1971). Sacred Legends of the Sandy Lake Cree. McClelland and Stewart Ltd. 

External links

  • Cree cultural site
  • The East Cree language web
  • The Cree-Innu linguistic atlas
  • Grand Council of the Crees (GCC) website
  • The Plains Cree - Ethnographic, Historical and Comparative Study by David Mandelbaum
  • Lac La Ronge Band website
  • Little Red River Cree Nation website
  • Brief history of Cree from Canadian Geographic
  • CBC Digital Archives - James Bay Project and the Cree
  • Pimooteewin, a first Cree language opera
  • Fisher River Cree Nation Official Website
  • The Gift of Language and Culture website
  • CBC Digital Archives – Eeyou Istchee: Land of the Cree
  • On the Path of the Elders
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