Cottonwood Forest in Indigenous History

May 3, 2022

Cottonwood is a distinct place for the Blackfoot people.  The history here is extraordinary. This valley here holds the bones of our ancestors, the tipi rings are embedded into the ground, and spirit of the stories remain here.  History tells us this is the area that our great Chief Red Crow was born in this area, Piinakoyiim, another great Chief was buried here, the Kainaiwa ancestors called this place “many deaths” because of the small pox sweeping a camp here eradicating the whole band.  There is also the original site of the Fort Whoop Up, a known whiskey fort, which brought about dark stages in Blackfoot history.  With the introductions of whiskey Forts the introduction of whiskey, guns, and the intrusion of white settlers. In the fall of 1870, in this area was the last battle between the Crees and Blackfoot.  Unbeknownst to the Blackfoot a huge war party of Crees and Assiniboias were in the area with plans to attack.  On an early morning the Crees attacked but with the repeat rifles and other weapons the Blackfoot overpowered the Crees and killed them in battle.   

To keep learning more about the rich Indigenous culture that helps make the melting pot of lethbridge so unique, keep reading more on our Indigenous Lethbridge page!

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