Okanese First Nation

Located a few miles north and east of Balcarres, Saskatchewan, is the Anishinabe Okanese First Nation. In history, their ogima, an Ojibwa or Saulteaux chief named Okanis, supposedly signed an adhesion to treaty four on September 9, 1875. These Anishinabe People were known to have lived in the Cypress Hills which means they were originally from Montana and fled up to Montana during the 1877 exodus. So were the Little Black Bear, Peepeekisis and Star Blanket. Chief Okanese supposedly refused to participate in the 1885 Northwest Rebellion and actually was forced to flee to the United States for some reason. That is good evidence of his involvement in the 1885 war or he was wanted by Canada. Ogima Okanis was this bands ogima (chief) until the 1885 Northwest Rebellion. Many of the Ojibwa or Saulteaux Soldiers from this Reserve, did participate in the 1885 Northwest Rebellion.

After Okanis was forced to abdicate rule, ogima Moostooacoop became Kit-chay O-gi-ma. Chief Okanese is a rather fascinating historical figure who does resemble ogima Little Bear who fled to Montana after the 1885 Northwest Rebellion, to escape from being executed by the Canadians for his part in the 1885 war. Chief Okanese was the principle leader of the File Hills Reserve. The Cree are an admixture of Ojibwa or Saulteaux and a non Ojibwa People who may have been the Inuit. According to Peter Jacobs who wrote about visiting the location of Norway House, Manitoba in July of 1852, the Indians who lived there spoke a mixture of Ojibwa and Cree-Swampy. He considered their language inferior to the Ojibwa Language. Ojibwa soldiers had subjugated a people long before Jacobs time in northern Manitoba and mixed their language with theirs. They may have been Inuits.

Chief Okanese established his headquarters somewhere in the central part of File Hills Reserve, north of Peepeekisis. Yet the Canadians dealt with the Reserve as being four distinct Reserves. That may have actually been the cause of chief Okanese moving to Montana. Star Blanket is north of Okanese and Little Black Bear is north of Star Blanket. Of the four Districts, only the Okanese Reserve is clinging to their Ojibwa or Saulteaux Nationality. There are 34 Reserves which make up this First Nation. They cover an area of 12,037 total hectares or 29,744 total acres. Total population is 277. That does not include off Reserve. A link to a map of the Okanese Reserve is below. You must remember that the map is a map of not only the Okanese Reserve but also the Little Black Bear Reserve and the Peepeekisis and Star Blanket Reserves. All 4 Reserves are connected or the same Reserve. As mentioned, the Reserve is known as the File Hills Reserve.

Before File Hills Reserve was set aside, the Ojibwa's were very much at home along the Qu'Appelle River in Saskatchewan. Their land in Saskatchewan extended from Saskatchewan River on the north, to the Montana and North Dakota border on the south. To their north were the Cree Ojibwa's who should be named Oji-Cree, and the Chipewyan who are also Ojibwa according to Edinburgh Encyclopedia which is from 1832. Those older books are reliable. Their (the File Hills Reserve) land is largely covered with patchy areas of forests and many small lakes. On the east, the land is especially covered with many areas of patchy areas of forests and many lakes. On the west, much of the land is being farmed. However, there are large areas which appear to be woodlands. Google Earth is not very liable about clear images. Many lakes are also located on the west side of File Hills Reserve. However, most of the land is not farmed. There are organized villages (about 2) yet they are small and don't have names that i know of. Most of the housing units are scattered about throughout the small Saulteaux Ojibwa Nation.


Learning about the origins of the Oji-Cree and the Oji-Cree Language, is not at all difficult. Around 1930, a report was written about the Ojibwa's from Island Lake, Manitoba. These Ojibwa's are also known as Saulteaux. They can claim their language is Oji-Cree yet there is evidence that indicates another theory that is very disturbing. White Christian missionaries forced their converts to speak Cree at Island Lake. Written below is excerpt from 1930, about Island Lake Ojibwa's from northeastern Manitoba. Big Trout Lake is 200 miles east of Island Lake, Manitoba. Big Trout Lake along with Sachigo Lake and Wapekeka, are the northern most of the so called Oji-Cree.

Linguistically, the Island Lake natives may be characterized by calling them Saulteaux or better perhaps, Saulteaux-Ojibwa, indicating more clearly by this hyphenated term the close relationship of their language to Ojibwa proper. Locally, they are said to speak a mixed dialect of Saulteaux and Cree. This mixture is reported to be especially typical of the Maria Portage groups, while the natives at Smooth Rock are reputed to speak a purer Saulteaux. It may be pointed out in this connection that Cree is utilized in the United Church services and at the Catholic mission, too, so that in recent years practically all of the lslandlakers have learned to understand Cree and many speak it. The assimilation of Cree would consequently appear to be partly the result of christianization and partly due to contact with the Norway House Cree since the canoe route referred to has been open. The linguistic base at Island Lake may very well be Saulteaux-Ojibwa with an overlay of Cree due to modern conditions. On the other hand, it is not impossible that a much older contact with Cree-speaking peoples has affected the language much more deeply than a superficial inspection would indicate, since the Saulteaux of this region may have been marginal to Cree bands for a considerable period, because to the south and east we find only Saulteaux spoken today.

I've also included an excerpt from Edinburgh Encyclopedia about the tradition of the Lenape (they are really Ojibwa) in which they knew about that eastern migration 19th century Ojibway authors wrote about:

The general tradition of the Lenape is, that their family (clan, nation, totem) originally came from the westward, taking possession of the whole country from the Missouri to the sea, and destroying the original inhabitants, whom they name Alligewi. In this migration and contest, which continued for many years, they say that the Iroquois moved in a parellel line with them, but in a more northerly course and finally settled on the St. Lawrence. The Lenape, being the more numerous family, soon sent detachments northward, as far as the shores of Hudson's Bay, and gave rise to the chief northern tribes now along the arctic circle. This account gives color to the tradition of the Chipewyans, who are a numerous tribe of Lenape, that their immediate ancestors were from the eastward, contrary to the general tide of migration above detailed.

First of all, there were two groups of Ojibwa's who commenced that eastern migration. To the south, the Lenape or Delaware, forced their way northeast from a location in the region between Nebraska and Texas. Up north, the other Ojibwa's forced their way straight east from possibly the Montana region. They forced their way into what is now Quebec and New York State. Early European explorers wrote about their expedition to the St. Lawrence River in the early 16th century and wrote that the Indians who lived there were not Algonquin. When the Europeans returned some 6 to 7 decades later, they wrote that the Algonquin's were now living along the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and New York State. Those Algonquin's are in fact Iroquois or the Iroquois are Ojibwa. According to Edinburgh Encyclopedia, the Lenape were more numerous than the Iroquois. However, there is something missing. Remember, Edinburgh Encyclopedia wrote that the Lenape were located south of the Iroquois. We can't exclude that information. It was from either the Iroquois or both the Iroquois and Lenape, that soldiers were sent to Hudson Bay in the 17th century, to fight the invading Eskimos and whites. Lenape soldiers forced their way as far south as Florida to fight the white invaders. Both the Iroquois and Lenape Ojibwa's followed Seven Fires Prophecy. They knew about the whites and their evil intentions. Later, in the 19th century, white historians gave other names to these two groups of Ojibwa's. Northern Arapaho and Southern Arapaho and Northern Cheyenne and Southern Cheyenne. In New York, the Ojibwa's there are better known as Assinica or Seneca. Assinica is an Ojibwa word meaning Stony Place. They are also known as Assiniboine or Assinibwan. To Ojibwa Traditionalists who believe the history white historians have written for them, this is not good information. Why? It means the Dakota or Sioux, are in fact Ojibwa. Where'd they get the name Dakota from? The Ojibwa word for alliance and association which is "Wi-do-ko-da-wi-win."

In 1896, a strange event occurred at the File Hills Reserve. A new agent was stationed at the Reserve. His name was W.M. Graham. At the time (1896), the Reserve was without a leader and Graham initiated an Indian Colony on the Reserve known as the File Hills Colony. In 1896, ogima Little Bear was told to get out of Montana by the United States. Many of the landless Chippewa's of Montana, were forced to relocate to Canada, during the June-July 1896 Deportations. It is no coincidence that Little Black Bear and Little Bear, shared almost identical names. Chief Little Bear was put on trial and acquitted of the so called Frog Lake Massacre.

The four Reserves which make up the File Hills Reserve, cover 37,455.6 hectares or 374.00 sq. km. or 92,554 acres or 144.00 sq. mi. The File Hills Reserve is about 18 miles east of the Qu' Appelle Lakes Reserve. The total population of the File Hills Reserve is 1,390. That does not include off Reserve population. With a population of 627, Peepeekisis is the District with the largest population. Many can trace their origins back to Montana, where they originally lived but were driven out by the whites. However, they don't know their history.