Regina History - Native Indians

The plains region of southern Saskatchewan was home to large numbers of buffalo, and many thousands of native Indians who lived off them. The Wascana River was ideal for building buffalo pounds, pens for capturing and then killing buffalo. The meat was then washed and left to dry on the flat ground, and the bones were piled up. The Cree believed that the living buffaloes would not leave the bones of the dead buffalo, and that as long as there was a pile of bones, there would be buffalo to hunt. The pile of bones, which the Cree named "Okana ka-asateki," was at times 2 metres high and 13 metres in diameter.

When Colonel Palliser arrived in 1857, he heard the Cree name, and called the creek Wascana. In the early days, the settlement was called Pile-o-Bones. The actual pile of bones was sold by settlers for fertilizer production for a rumoured $15,000.

In 1868, the Canadian government bought Rupert's Land from the Hudson's Bay Company, in order to prevent the sparsely-populated territory from being annexed by the United States.

After the 1876 Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana (where General Custer and his troops were wiped out), the North West Mounted Police met with the natives shortly after they crossed into Canada and gave the natives ammunition for hunting purposes, so they could hunt the buffalo herds in the area, but many starved from lack of food. When they were not granted a Canadian reservation, the Lakota returned to the US to live on reserves there. In 1882, the Northwest Mounted Police Barracks were built, as a base to police the border with the United States and the increasing number of settlers in the area. A year later, it became the administrative centre of the Northwest Territories, after it was moved from Battleford, in order to be closer to the railroad.

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