M9126.96.36.199 | Poundmaker, The Cree Chief against whom Colonel Otter marched, about 1880
Poundmaker, The Cree Chief against whom Colonel Otter marched, about 1880
John Henry Walker (1831-1899)
About 1880, 19th century
Ink on paper on supporting paper - Wood engraving
15.6 x 11.5 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: male (26812) , portrait (53878) , Print (10661)
Keys to History
Poundmaker (1842-1886) was a chief of the Cree First Nation who played a vital role in the Rebellion of 1885. His people, particularly the young men, were unhappy with the results of signing Treaty #6. He sought at first to negotiate his peoples' grievances with the government rather than fight, but when his attempts were ignored, he participated in the battle of Cut Knife Hill, which was a defeat for the Canadian forces. Poundmaker used his prestige among his people to stop them from pursuing the defeated Canadians, thus preventing greater loss of life, and also to protect the Euro-Canadian men who had been captured by Aboriginal people. For this reason, when he was tried he was not sentenced to be hung, but instead to three years in prison. He was soon released, in failing health, and died a few months later.
This is a woodcut copied from a photograph of the great Cree Chief Poundmaker.
The original photograph would have been made somewhere in Saskatchewan.
Since the caption mentions the march of Col. Otter, the woodcut must have been made during or after the Northwest Rebellion of 1885.
Although Poundmaker marched against the Canadian forces, he also saved a great many lives through his restraint and compassion.