|Title: Earliest known|
illustration of Crowfoot.
Nevitt, Richard Barrington
Glenbow Image No: NA-51-1
Crowfoot's youth shows numerous examples of his skill at warfare. In several raids on enemy camps during the 1840s, he was shot by the enemy. In one instance, Crowfoot daringly ran into an enemy camp and touched a lodge of the enemy Crow tribe. Subject to Crow gunfire, a ball hit Crowfoot in the arm, but passed through without shattering any bone. In another raid on the Shoshoni tribe, Crowfoot was more seriously injured by gun fire, necessitating help to return to his own camp. The lead ball had lodged in Crowfoot's back, and as it was never removed, caused him problems in later life.
Title: Combat between Blackfoot, Assiniboine and Cree people, Fort McKenzie, Montana.
Date: August 28, 1833
Photographer/Illustrator: Bodmer, KarlGlenbow Archives Image No: NA-2347-1
Crowfoot was by all accounts a brave warrior, and several episodes narrated by Dempsey enforce the claim. On one occasion, Crowfoot was out with a party which hoped to steal horses from the Crees, but encountered an enemy band wandering the windswept prairie on their own horse-stealing foray. As Dempsey wrote,
Crowfoot was among the first to rush into the fight, where he singled out a Cree warrior who was running toward the trees. To travel more quickly, Crowfoot hurled aside his rifle as he ran after his enemy. The Cree reached the dense bushes, but Crowfoot followed him. Risking ambush, he plunged along the trail until he came close enough to grab the Cree by the hair. Wrenching him backward, Crowfoot plunged the knife into his chest and killed him on the spot. He then hacked the scalp from the Cree's head and returned to his comrades, who had also been victorious. (Dempsey, p.18)
|Glenbow Image No: NA-1241-10|
Title: Chief Crowfoot, Blackfoot.
Gully, F., Calgary, Alberta
A bloody confrontation in 1873, shows that revenge could be the causus bellus of First Nations warfare. Crowfoot's eldest son had left the camp at Three Hills and headed to war. The son was Crowfoot's only healthy son. One son suffered from developmental issues and the other had poor vision. The eldest would never return to his father's camp, having been shot by the Cree north of the Red Deer River.
As Crowfoot mourned, his anger grew. Dempsey notes, that Crowfoot's one true flaw was his fiery temper, and in this case his wrath was directed towards the Cree tribe. (p. 67) As Dempsey wrote, "Revenge did not have to be upon the actual killer of Crowfoot's son; it was knowledge enough that the Crees were responsible. The blood of a Cree, any Cree, would avenge the loss." (p. 71) After searching the prairies, a small group of Cree were discovered. One man was killed, his body "scalped and mutilated, satisfied Crowfoot's desire for revenge." (p. 71) Later on, when a peace treaty was in effect between the two tribes, Crowfoot adopted the future Cree chief, Poundmaker, as his son. Given the previous revenge killing of a Cree man, the choice of Poundmaker as a "replacement" for his eldest son is particularly ironic.
Title: "Crowfoot", Chief of the
and Archives Canada/C-001871