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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 28, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta Page 4 Law didn 't exist before arrival of men in scarlet Each man was law unto himself. Law was non existent before arrival of police Before the North West -Mounted Police arrived, the law in the Canadian West was what each man wanted to make it. For all practical purposes, it was non existent. The coming of whisky traders in their liquor laden wagon trains and their subsequent clash with the culture of prairie Indian bands made this fact painfully clear. The traders roamed at will, exploiting the Indian wherever they could find him and leaving a trail of bloodshed and violence in their wake. The outstanding single incident of what might happen in the absence of established order occurred in the spring of 1873 in the Cypress Hills of present day southern Saskatchewan and Alberta. There one May afternoon, an Assiniboine camp on Black Creek was attacked by a group of freebooters seeking revenge for. the theft of abcat 20 horses by a Cree and Metis band Opening fire with repeating rifles, they systematically cut down men. women and children, then set fire to their lodges and hung the head of their chief on a pole over the smouldering camp. Estimates of the dead have varied between more than 20 to more than 100, with official historians settling on 22. News of the massacre rippled across the prairies and spread east to Ottawa where the government, appalled at previous reports of lesser violence, was just beginning to organize the NWMP. Official Ottawa reacted in horror and, when the first 300 NWMP members moved into the west the following spring, the capture of those responsible loomed as one of their first major assignments. But it was a case the NWMP was destined to lose. The force did manage to trail the murderers across the border and round them up in Montana more than Religion was not forgotten Open air church services were regular Sunday feature in every NWMP camp. two years after the slaughter. But they failed to win the long and emotional extradition trial that followed in the summer of 1875 at Helena, Mont. The case was heard in a bitterly partisan atmosphere before crowds of local townsfolk who, after half a century of warfare, harbored an open hatred for the Indians. A flood of conflicting NEW TEETH FOR TRACTION AND ACTION UNDO) PICKUPS AND CAMPERS FORMULA DESERT DOG 10x15 6 PLY WITH 192 CUT RESISTANT TEETH ELIMINATES SWAY master charge PUT THE WIDE WIDE DESERT DOG TO WORK FOR YOU OIXKCKX LEONARD TIRE MART LTD. "WE KNOWINGLY UNDERSELL" 1902-2nd Ave. S. Phone evidence was presented and, in the end the court ruled it was unable to send the men back to Canada for trial. The NWMP had lost the case but it had nonetheless proved its persistence and s-erved warning that criminals could no longer roam the Canadian West without fear of being brought to justice. By the end of 1875, the force was becoming firmly established. NWMP posts had been located at Fort Macleod on Old Man's River near the foothills of the Rockies: at Fort Walsh, near the sight of the Cypress Hills massacre: at Fort Edmonton and Fort Calgary, and at Fort Saskatchewan, 19 miles northeast of Fort Edmonton. A post was also firmly rooted at Swan River in western Manitoba and several subordinate posts were being set up and linked by telegraph to Winnipeg. The red coated officers worked hard to win the trust of the Indians and to cope with problems that emerged with the increasing flood of white settlers from the East. They battled prairie fires, cracked down on smugglers especially whisky traders and collected duties. They aided victims of winter blizzards, fought starvation and attended to illnesses and accidents. They transported mail and performed weddings and funerals. Lost and stolen stock was rounded up and returned to its owners, missing travellers were located and insane persons were taken into custody as well as criminals. The West was developing rapidly and the growth of mining, lumber and construction camps and settlements placed an ever increasing burden on the force. The railway was pushing west and with it came a growing population and the need for more NWMP officers. In 1881. the strength of the force was increased to 500 from 300 men." While the once dominant Blackfoot Confederacy accepted the coming of the force in 1874, the arrival of settlers had a profound impact on the Indian way of life. Buffalo herds thinned out and there was sometimes famine and fighting in the native camps. The Crees and Assiniboines became restless and there was resentment among the Metis at the westward thrust of easterners. The tension produced the North West Rebellion led by Louis Kiel in 1885.' The mounted police, over whelmed by the rising tide of opposition, needed help, and got it, from a force of nearly military troops. The rebellion was finally put down on May 16, 1885, with the defeat of the rebel forces and the capture of Riel, their Metis leader. No law Continued on Page 9 FOR v TROUBIffflS DRIVING.., VISIT THE EXPERTS! ROY GARY HANK BILL They will be pleased to help you with any of your motoring needs. Exhaust Systems Lubrication Engine Diagnosis Wheel Balance and Alignment Front End Service 1805 2nd South Lethbridgc 327-4453 AUTOOROME ;