MARY'S GENEALOGY TREASURES
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Native Residents Of
The Spring Coulee Area

Pinepound Refelctions
A History of Spring Coulee and District - Page 21
by Beverly Pashuk

The south east corner of the Blood Reserve borders on Spring Coulee and residents of both areas have intermingled for years. Early ranchers in the district relate that natives supplied large amounts of hay to the Brown Ranching Company and other ranches in the region. Tom Three Persons, the first saddle bronc riding champion at the 1912 Calgary Stampede ranched in the St. Mary's River valley and was well known in the district. His son Jesse attended Spring Coulee school in the late 1940's.

Laurie Plume, a prominent member of the Horn Society, was a frequent visitor in the village. Alfred Blood was involved in cattle drives for district farmers. Wilton Frank was employed at the St. Mary's Dam for many years and his family became part of the community. Interest ran very high when Wilton's son Harley was elected chief of the Blood tribe.

In the late 1950's, like many rural communities Spring Coulee's population began to dwindle and in 1961 school enrollment was down to a point that school closure was imminent. The St. Mary's School Division suggested that the Spring Coulee School Board actively encourage native families living on the reserve close to Spring Coulee to send their children there rather than to the residential schools on the reserve. These families included the Franks, Bloods, First Chargers, Okas, Old Shoes, Young Pines and Weasel Moccasins. They attended school with the Spring Coulee children until school closure in 1966.

It proved to be an extremely successful experiment in integration due to the fact that Spnng Coulee parents wanted to keep the school open and welcomed the native children and native parents wanted to get their children out of residential schools.

The native parents actively participated in school activities along with their children. One of the native mothers made the most beautiful angel costumes for the Christmas Concert that had ever graced the stage of the Spring Coulee Hall. The school became a glowing example of how children from different cultures could work and play together. Although the St. Mary's School Division tried sending residential children to other schools in their julisdiction it never proved as successful because there was not the same will to make it succeed.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup