Nation-Based Sovereign-Based Government

The Anishinaabe of Riding Mountain

August 5, 2021

Treaty 2 Territory- For the Anishinaabe, Turtle Island, also known as North America, was chosen as their homeland by the Creator, Kichi Manitou. It is a common understanding that this has been home since time immemorial. The Anishinaabe have maintained traditional connections to the land and waters, and with Parks Canada work to protect and present Riding Mountain National Park.  RMNP is located within Treaty 2 Territory and Parks Canada works with First Nations from Treaties 2, 4 and 1.

Riding Mountain National Park of Canada Overview:

A proposal that a national park is established in eastern Manitoba was under consideration as early as 1919. The area near the Whiteshell River was proposed but the implementation was not discussed for several years. Not everyone favoured the prospect of a National Park in the Whiteshell area even though the Riding Mountain Forest reserve was more accessible in the highway system, more centrally located and had one of the largest elk herds in Canada. Therefore, it was more preferred area than the Whiteshell.

The Manitoba government advised that there would only be one national park in Manitoba. An assessment was done on both areas, and it was decided that the Riding Mountain site was favoured over the Whiteshell area. It was recommended that a summer recreation area be created, taking in an area of 180 kms surrounding Clear Lake. Towns and municipalities recommended that the entire Riding Mountain Forest Reserve become a national park as it was, “an island of wilderness surrounded by a sea of farmland.” In 1929, the Riding Mountain Forest Reserve was set aside as a national park, and on July 26, 1933, Riding Mountain National Park was officially opened.

To the Indigenous people, the forests, prairies, and lakes of Riding Mountain were favourite hunting and fishing ground. Two hundred years ago, the Cree were in possession of the highlands while their allies, the Assiniboines, roamed the prairies in pursuit of the bison. These people followed the retreat of the bison herds to the west and were replaced by the Ojibway, who still live in the area today.

Between 1731 and 1749, Pierre de la Verendrye and his sons explored and traded on the plains around Riding Mountain. A post was established on Lake Dauphin in 1741, and soon the Hudson’s Bay Company followed suit. By the 1800s, the mountain was surrounded by posts, and a rich harvest of furs flowed outward to distant countries. Resulting from 150 years of exploitation, the populations of fur bearers were significantly reduced. Species such as the otter, marten, fisher and wolverine disappeared completely.

Since riding was the easiest means of exploring the rugged highland in search of furs and game, the original name of Fort Dauphin Hill was changed to Riding Mountain, which is still used today. Among the first settlers were Robert Campbell and his son Glen Lyon, who cleared the Strathclair Trail.

After Canadian Pacific Rail reached Brandon in 1881, settlers from Eastern Canada, Europe and the U.S.A. established themselves on the plains around Riding Mountain. These settlements used the highland as a source of timber for building, railroads, firewood, and wild meat to supplement their food supply. The need for conservation of our natural resources was recognized in the closing years of the 19th century. The highland was withdrawn from settlement and made a forest reserve. At this time, the area was still noted for its hunting.

It was under the forest service that the system of issuing permits to lease land and build cottages was initiated in 1925. Prior to that time, only hunters’ camps existed for short periods on the shore of Clear Lake. A hunting camp existed near what is now referred to as Deep Bay (formerly known as Seaplane Bay and before that Montague Bay, named after a doctor from Minnedosa). After 1912, George Clark and his wife from Newdale camped on the shores of Clear Lake, and for years this area was officially known as Clark’s Beach.

On May 30, 1930, the Forest Reserve became Riding Mountain National Park, and at the official dedication on July 26, 1933, a bronze plaque on the cairn on the main beach was erected to commemorate the event. It reads: “This Tablet commemorates the official opening of Riding Mountain National Park, an area dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education, and enjoyment.”

During more recent historic times, various Indigenous peoples inhabited the region. The Ojibway migrated from eastern regions to inhabit the Riding Mountain area, previously the home of the Nakota (Assiniboine) Nation. The Nakota are known to have travelled widely and regularly between the Souris, upper Assiniboine, South Saskatchewan and Missouri rivers long before horses played a significant role in their travels. The Nakotas shifted west and south due to their declining numbers caused by European diseases, shifting tribal boundaries, declining local bison herds and resources for trading, and a westward shifting of the fur trade establishments, particularly up the Missouri River.

The Ojibway, active suppliers to the fur trade, roamed the Riding Mountain area in pursuit of fur as well as maintaining a traditional lifestyle of fishing and hunting. The creation of Canada necessitated the signing of treaties between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples in the 1870s. These treaties created the reserve system, and today there are several First Nation communities around the Park.

In 1896, a Fishing Reserve was established on the shores of Clear Lake for the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nations at Elphinstone. This Indian reserve was wrongfully removed in 1930 by the Department of the Interior at the time of the establishment of the Park. This land was returned to the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation in 1991 after a land claim by the Band. Additional lands in this area, commonly referred to as the 1906 lands, are presently the focus of a land claim by the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nations. Oral histories of various First Nations’ elders have added to this archaeological and geographical knowledge. Understanding of the strong spiritual meaning that the mountain provided to Indigenous people has grown. The sacredness of the mountain is linked to its abundant water.

To the Indigenous people, the forests, prairies, and lakes of Riding Mountain were favourite hunting and fishing ground. Two hundred years ago, the Cree were in possession of the highlands while their allies, the Assiniboines, roamed the prairies in pursuit of the bison. These people followed the retreat of the bison herds to the west and were replaced by the Ojibway, who still live in the area today.

Between 1731 and 1749, Pierre de la Verendrye and his sons explored and traded on the plains around Riding Mountain. A post was established on Lake Dauphin in 1741, and soon the Hudson’s Bay Company followed suit. By the 1800s, the mountain was surrounded by posts, and a rich harvest of furs flowed outward to distant countries. Resulting from 150 years of exploitation, the populations of fur bearers were significantly reduced. Species such as the otter, marten, fisher and wolverine disappeared completely.

Since riding was the easiest means of exploring the rugged highland in search of furs and game, the original name of Fort Dauphin Hill was changed to Riding Mountain, which is still used today. Among the first settlers were Robert Campbell and his son Glen Lyon, who cleared the Strathclair Trail.

After Canadian Pacific Rail reached Brandon in 1881, settlers from Eastern Canada, Europe and the U.S.A. established themselves on the plains around Riding Mountain. These settlements used the highland as a source of timber for building, railroads, firewood, and wild meat to supplement their food supply. The need for conservation of our natural resources was recognized in the closing years of the 19th century. The highland was withdrawn from settlement and made a forest reserve. At this time, the area was still noted for its hunting.

It was under the forest service that the system of issuing permits to lease land and build cottages was initiated in 1925. Prior to that time, only hunters’ camps existed for short periods on the shore of Clear Lake. A hunting camp existed near what is now referred to as Deep Bay (formerly known as Seaplane Bay and before that Montague Bay, named after a doctor from Minnedosa). After 1912, George Clark and his wife from Newdale camped on the shores of Clear Lake, and for years this area was officially known as Clark’s Beach.

On May 30, 1930, the Forest Reserve became Riding Mountain National Park, and at the official dedication on July 26, 1933, a bronze plaque on the cairn on the main beach was erected to commemorate the event. It reads: “This Tablet commemorates the official opening of Riding Mountain National Park, an area dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education, and enjoyment.”

During more recent historic times, various Indigenous peoples inhabited the region. The Ojibway migrated from eastern regions to inhabit the Riding Mountain area, previously the home of the Nakota (Assiniboine) Nation. The Nakota are known to have travelled widely and regularly between the Souris, upper Assiniboine, South Saskatchewan and Missouri rivers long before horses played a significant role in their travels. The Nakotas shifted west and south due to their declining numbers caused by European diseases, shifting tribal boundaries, declining local bison herds and resources for trading, and a westward shifting of the fur trade establishments, particularly up the Missouri River.

The Ojibway, active suppliers to the fur trade, roamed the Riding Mountain area in pursuit of fur as well as maintaining a traditional lifestyle of fishing and hunting. The creation of Canada necessitated the signing of treaties between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples in the 1870s. These treaties created the reserve system, and today there are several First Nation communities around the Park.

In 1896, a Fishing Reserve was established on the shores of Clear Lake for the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nations at Elphinstone. This Indian reserve was wrongfully removed in 1930 by the Department of the Interior at the time of the establishment of the Park. This land was returned to the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation in 1991 after a land claim by the Band. Additional lands in this area, commonly referred to as the 1906 lands, are presently the focus of a land claim by the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nations. Oral histories of various First Nations’ elders have added to this archaeological and geographical knowledge. Understanding of the strong spiritual meaning that the mountain provided to Indigenous people has grown. The sacredness of the mountain is linked to its abundant water.

To the Indigenous people, the forests, prairies, and lakes of Riding Mountain were favourite hunting and fishing ground. Two hundred years ago, the Cree were in possession of the highlands while their allies, the Assiniboines, roamed the prairies in pursuit of the bison. These people followed the retreat of the bison herds to the west and were replaced by the Ojibway, who still live in the area today.

Between 1731 and 1749, Pierre de la Verendrye and his sons explored and traded on the plains around Riding Mountain. A post was established on Lake Dauphin in 1741, and soon the Hudson’s Bay Company followed suit. By the 1800s, the mountain was surrounded by posts, and a rich harvest of furs flowed outward to distant countries. Resulting from 150 years of exploitation, the populations of fur bearers were significantly reduced. Species such as the otter, marten, fisher and wolverine disappeared completely.

Since riding was the easiest means of exploring the rugged highland in search of furs and game, the original name of Fort Dauphin Hill was changed to Riding Mountain, which is still used today. Among the first settlers were Robert Campbell and his son Glen Lyon, who cleared the Strathclair Trail.

After Canadian Pacific Rail reached Brandon in 1881, settlers from Eastern Canada, Europe and the U.S.A. established themselves on the plains around Riding Mountain. These settlements used the highland as a source of timber for building, railroads, firewood, and wild meat to supplement their food supply. The need for conservation of our natural resources was recognized in the closing years of the 19th century. The highland was withdrawn from settlement and made a forest reserve. At this time, the area was still noted for its hunting.

It was under the forest service that the system of issuing permits to lease land and build cottages was initiated in 1925. Prior to that time, only hunters’ camps existed for short periods on the shore of Clear Lake. A hunting camp existed near what is now referred to as Deep Bay (formerly known as Seaplane Bay and before that Montague Bay, named after a doctor from Minnedosa). After 1912, George Clark and his wife from Newdale camped on the shores of Clear Lake, and for years this area was officially known as Clark’s Beach.

On May 30, 1930, the Forest Reserve became Riding Mountain National Park, and at the official dedication on July 26, 1933, a bronze plaque on the cairn on the main beach was erected to commemorate the event. It reads: “This Tablet commemorates the official opening of Riding Mountain National Park, an area dedicated to the people of Canada for their benefit, education, and enjoyment.”

During more recent historic times, various Indigenous peoples inhabited the region. The Ojibway migrated from eastern regions to inhabit the Riding Mountain area, previously the home of the Nakota (Assiniboine) Nation. The Nakota are known to have travelled widely and regularly between the Souris, upper Assiniboine, South Saskatchewan and Missouri rivers long before horses played a significant role in their travels. The Nakotas shifted west and south due to their declining numbers caused by European diseases, shifting tribal boundaries, declining local bison herds and resources for trading, and a westward shifting of the fur trade establishments, particularly up the Missouri River.

The Ojibway, active suppliers to the fur trade, roamed the Riding Mountain area in pursuit of fur as well as maintaining a traditional lifestyle of fishing and hunting. The creation of Canada necessitated the signing of treaties between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples in the 1870s. These treaties created the reserve system, and today there are several First Nation communities around the Park.

In 1896, a Fishing Reserve was established on the shores of Clear Lake for the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nations at Elphinstone. This Indian reserve was wrongfully removed in 1930 by the Department of the Interior at the time of the establishment of the Park. This land was returned to the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation in 1991 after a land claim by the Band. Additional lands in this area, commonly referred to as the 1906 lands, are presently the focus of a land claim by the Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nations. Oral histories of various First Nations’ elders have added to this archaeological and geographical knowledge. Understanding of the strong spiritual meaning that the mountain provided to Indigenous people has grown. The sacredness of the mountain is linked to its abundant water.

Settlement by Europeans occurred in the region in the late 1800s. During the Depression of the 1930s the park supported a large work camp. Many of the facilities that visitors still enjoy today were constructed at that time. Domestic timber harvest, haying and livestock grazing took place but no longer continue. Grey Owl, a well-known spokesman-advocate for conservation in Canada, lived in the area for a short time. His cabin has been restored for public viewing. In 1994, the East Gate entrance to the park was recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.

Submitted by: Renée McGurry, Earth Lodge Development Helper

Earth Lodge website: lodge.fnt2t.com

Last modified: August 5, 2021

Comments are closed.