Repatriation of a staff belonging to Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker)

Fort Battleford National Historic Site

On May 4, 2022, a ceremony acknowledging the repatriation of a staff ascribed to Chief Poundmaker previously under the care of Parks Canada took place at Fort Battleford National Historic Site. This day marks an important moment for the Poundmaker Family and they share its significance in this statement: 

Repatriation of a staff belonging to Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker) to his descendants

The Poundmaker Family is pleased to share that Parks Canada has transferred a staff ascribed to Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker) from the collection of historical objects under their care to his descendants on May 4, 2022.

Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker) was one of the greatest nēhiyaw (Plains Cree) leaders of the 19th century. He was a strategic thinker who brought nations together and strove to protect the interests of the Cree during the negotiation of Treaty 6. A humble and honest man, Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker) acted as a peacemaker and sought to declare his loyalty to the Crown during the North-West Resistance of 1885 but was rebuffed by local officials. After the Resistance, he was convicted for treason-felony in a trial that has since been widely-criticized. In 1967, Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker’s) remains were brought home from his original resting place on Siksika territory. He was reinterred at the site of the Battle of Cut Knife on the Poundmaker Reserve. In 2019, the Government of Canada exonerated Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker) and apologized for the trial.

Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker) was also a family man whose resiliency has been inherited by his descendants. As the Poundmaker Family strives to bring home the personal artifact of Chief Poundmaker, they continue to be inspired by his willingness to stand up for what he believed in in a peaceful way. Remembering how many of his items were taken under duress, it is a very healing journey to bring home these items and to have Poundmaker’s spirit come to rest.

The request for repatriation of the staff was made by Pauline Poundmaker (Brown Bear Woman), a direct descendant of Pitikwahanapiwiyin (Chief Poundmaker) and leader of the repatriation process. She represents the Poundmaker Family (siblings) who are supported by Poundmaker Cree Nation in their claim. Parks Canada supported this repatriation request in keeping with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which asserts the rights of Indigenous Peoples to practice their cultural and spiritual traditions, and to control their ceremonial items and ancestral remains, to further demonstrate reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.


“E-notê nanâskomak kotâhwiynaw kisê-Manitou, okisêwâhtisowin. First, I would like to thank our Creator for his kindness and grace. In April 1967, my mother Alma Poundmaker (great granddaughter of Chief Poundmaker) represented the direct descendants of the Poundmaker Family when they brought Chief Poundmaker home to his final resting place. It is my honour today to represent the Poundmaker Family on this day when Chief Poundmaker’s staff is being repatriated to our family. Repatriation of sacred artifacts and objects is a spiritual journey and we would like to acknowledge Parks Canada for taking the lead in recognizing and understanding the significance of transferring ownership of Chief Poundmaker’s Staff to our family. Hiy Hiy!”

Pauline Poundmaker
Brown Bear Woman

“Chief Poundmaker was a strong, resilient leader and a peacemaker. Parks Canada is honoured to walk this journey of repatriation with the Poundmaker Family and facilitate the return of Chief Poundmaker’s staff to the care of his descendants. Parks Canada is committed to advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and to working with partners to consider repatriation requests in keeping with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which affirms the rights of Indigenous Peoples to manage and control ceremonial items and ancestral remains.”

Ron Hallman
President and Chief Executive Officer
Parks Canada Agency

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