Almighty Voice May 30, 2011 15:57:17 GMT -5
Post by grahamew on May 30, 2011 15:57:17 GMT -5
Proclamation for the arrest of Almighty Voice
The first time I read about Almighty Voice was in an article in the British children's magazine World of Wonder, where it was accompanied by a beautiful, if highly romantic and not particularly accurate, panting by the great illustrator, Ronald Embleton.
A few years later, the story was the basis of strange Canadian film, Alien Thunder, aka Dan Candy's Law (1974), starring Donald Sutherland.
The truth of this affair is murky and of no particular credit to the NWMP. The following comes from a number of websites, including
This is usually identified as a photograph of Almighty Voice
Almighty Voice (Shu-Kwe-weetam or Kay-kee-say-manitou-wayo, The Voice of the Spirit; also known as Jean-Baptiste) was a young Cree in One Arrow's Band at the Duck Lake agency, born near Batoche, Saskatchewan 1874. Band and family ties linked him to leaders who had opposed the conditions forced upon the Cree by the Canadian government: he was the son of John Batoche or Sounding Sky (See-nay-way-kee-sick), a Saulteaux from Nut Lake, who was a former freighter for the Hudson Bay Company, and his wife, Spotted Calf, the daughter of Koh-ah-mah-chee a Head Man at One Arrow and the brother in law of the chief of the Willow Crees, who had refused to settle on a reserve until 1879. Sounding Sky had been a prominent fighter with Riel's forces in the Rebellion of 1885 and One Arrow had spent three years in Stony Mountain prison for fighting alongside Gabriel Dumont’s Metis.
Sounding Sky, possibly photographed while under arrest in 1895
Sounding Sky photographed at Prince Albert in 1898
Sounding Sky and Spotted Calf in 1927
As a young man, he had a reputation as a ladies man – he had married three times by 1895 and this had brought him into conflict with the farm instructor on the One Arrow Reserve, who was trying to enforce monogamy; he was also a successful hunter and a swift runner who was difficult to catch.
On 22 October 1895, he was arrested by the Mounties for butchering a stray cow. Some sources say it was for a wedding feast; others suggest it was to feed his brother’s sick child. According to Dan Kennedy in his book, Recollections of an Assiniboin Chief, he slaughtered the cow to feed his brother's sick child, although he had first sought the permission of the agent and was turned down. There was no formal report submitted by the Indian agent R. S. McKenzie until November 8 and there is evidence to suggest that the NWMP command in Regina thought the information they had to act on was too vague.
Almighty Voice was held at the police guardroom at Duck Lake and with him were another Indian man and a woman. By Kennedy's account, a police guard ‘jokingly’ told Almighty Voice that workmen putting up the framework of a building next door were "erecting a scaffold from which you will be hanged next morning."
Taking the matter seriously, he escaped from the jail that night and made for his mother’s home on the reserve, swimming the ice-cold Saskatchewan River.
On October 29, 1895, NWMP officer Sergeant Colin Colebrook caught up with him near Kinistino; although Almighty Voice warned him to keep away, he attempted to arrest him and was shot and killed.
This is believed to be a photograph of Sergeant Colebrook
Over the next year, he was a wanted man with a reward of $500 on his head but it seems likely that he was supported by sympathetic Metis, Cree and Saulteaux, the Nut lake band having ‘no time’ foe white people. Central Saskatchewan was under constant vigilance by the NWMP until May 1897 when policemen visited the One Arrow reserve to investigate a cattle theft and saw a group of Indians on a nearby bluff. One officer went closer to investigate and was shot in the arm.
The following day, arrived and saw three Indians hiding in the undergrowth on the side of a hill. Three officers went forward to investigate and two were wounded by gunfire and had to turn back.
NWMP keeping a watch on Almighty Voice
Efforts were made to set fire to the bluff but when that failed, the posse of 100 police and civilian vigilantes decided to rush the Indians with disastrous results: two Mounties, Corporal C.H.S. Hockin and Constable J.R. Kerr, and a civilian postmaster, Ernest Grundy, were killed and another man was wounded.
The camp of NWMP and civilians near the bluff where Almighty Voice was hiding
During the night, the hill was surrounded to prevent the escape of the three men, Almighty Voice and his cousin, Little Saulteaux, also known as Standing in the Sky (Ah-much-away-his-a-quip), who was around 15 years old, and his brother-in-law, Too-pee-ann, also known as Joe Pierre or Dublin, who taunted the police, asking for supper because they were hungry after a hard day’s fighting.
A seven pound gun in barracks
Shelling the bluff
The next day police moved in seven and nine pound cannons and shelled the bluff. Just when police assumed the Indians were dead, a crow overhead was shot by one of the Indians and so the shelling continued.
Almighty Voice's rifle - taken from one of the civilians (probably Grundy) who attacked the bluff; his original weapon had been a muzzle-loading shot gun.
The following morning, the NWMP officer from Regina, succumbed to pressure from the vigilantes and the bluff was stormed. The bodies of Almighty Voice and Little Saulteaux were discovered dead in a rifle pit, dug with half of a butcher knife tied to a pole; the body of Dublin was found nearby.
Almighty Voice's wife, Spotted Calf, and his son (Stanislaus Almighty Voice?) in 1927 at his father's grave.
There's a particularly good, detailed and contentious article on Almighty Voice that's worth reading for a number of reasons, not least because it goes into detail about the local and national political background to the story and has some superb maps drawn at the time:
Finally, there's a CBC video report (which features an alternative photograph of Almighty Voice, owned by one of his descendants) here: