Sir John A. Macdonald's Canadian government refused to provide Sitting Bull with land, food or support. They saw the Sioux as American Indians who had crossed the International Boundary into Canada and should be persuaded to leave. The Blackfoot, Cree and Assiniboine also felt the Sioux should leave, and accused them of stealing their buffalo and depleting the game in their hunting ranges.

The famous meeting between Sitting Bull, NWMP Commissioner Macleod and Major Walsh, and U.S. General Alfred H. Terry took place on October 17, 1877 at Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan. The meeting was brokered by Major Walsh, commander of the North West Mounted Police in the Cypress Hills region. Over the time that Sitting Bull had been in Canada, he and Major Walsh had developed a great deal of respect for one another. In Major Walsh, Sitting Bull saw an honest, straightforward representative of Canadian law. In turn, Walsh respected Sitting Bull's determination and considered him a friend.

At the meeting, General Terry delivered a message from the President of the United States. The President, he said, desired a lasting peace and was willing to grant a full pardon to the Sioux if they gave up their guns and horses and moved to the reserve set aside for them. Sitting Bull replied: "for 64 years, you have kept and treated my people bad; what have we done that caused us to depart from our country? We could go nowhere, so we have taken refuge here...We did not give you our country; you took it from us; see how I live with these people; look at these eyes and ears; you think me a fool; but you are a greater fool than I am; this is a Medicine House; you come to tell us stories, and we do not want to hear them; I will not say any more. I shake hands with these people; that part of the country we came from belonged to us, now we live here."

It was pure coincidence that the Commission arrived only a few days after the Nez Perce. A reporter accompanying the Comission described Fort Walsh as it appeared at that time


Suddenly Fort Walsh came into view, lying low in a charming valley. No more romantic spot, no wilder scene could impress a traveller at the end of a monotonous journey than the one that met our eyes. The fort, built by Major Walsh only two years ago, is notwithstanding its excellence of a form and aspect so quaint and old as to remind one of the stories of the early Kentucky stockades. It is in fact an irregular stockade of upright logs enclosing all the offices and buildings, which are likewise built of logs, necessary for the accommodation of a garrison. Whitewashed on every part except the roof, the fort nestles between the surrounding heights. A scraggly but picturesque little settlement adjoins it.

Jerome B. Stillson
newspaper reporter
October 1877



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

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