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Red Crow (Mekasto) Mekeisto)

(Reference: Portraits From the Plains--J. W. Grant MacEwan 1971
Who Was Who in Native American History--Carl Waldman 1990,
Kainai Chieftainship--Archdeacon S. H. Middleton)

Red Crow was born about 1830 at Belly River (now the Oldman River) south of present City of Lethbridge. His father was Chief Black Bear.

In his youth Red Crow was known as Sitting White Buffalo. He qualified to become a Blood brave at a Sun Dance where thorns were inserted under his breast skin. He then tugged and pulled until the inflamed flesh broke to release him from the central pole which he was tied to in the Sun Dance lodge.

He went on the warpath and horse stealing against the Crees, and the Crows and Snake Indians of Montana and was mostly successful. In one foray Red Crow succeeded in stealing a band of horses from the Crows which were the same horses that his Blood tribe had recently lost.

The life of the Bloods had been raiding, warring, hunting for generations in which Red Crow followed for forty years. However he never suffered any wounds or scars from all his experiences.

Chief Black Bear died in 1870 and was succeeded by his son Red Crow. Crow was the brother-in-law of Crowfoot.

Traders from Montana built Fort Hamilton (which was burned down) and later Fort Whoop-Up both in the vicinity of Lethbridge. The Blood Indians exchanged buffalo robes for poor and diluted whiskey, and then when inebriated beat-up and in some instances massacred each other while the traders watched and laughed behind the blockades.

Red Crow patronized the whiskey traders at first but later saw the destruction the whiskey caused his people and co-operated with the Northwest Mounted Police when they came to the Northwest Territories and built Fort Macleod in 1874.

Red Crow approached Assistant Commissioner Macleod to find out that the police intended to execute justice to all - Indians and whites alike. He had great respect for Colonel Macleod saying that he had made many promises to Red Crow and had kept them all.

Red Crow and his Indians were hunting and failed to appear on the day Treaty Seven was to be negotiated. Chief Crowfoot of the Blackfoot delayed the procedures for three days so that Red Crow could be present.

A large reservation area was set aside to serve Bloods, Sarcees and Blackfoot. When the Bloods travelled South in 1879 looking for buffalo they returned only to Fort Macleod area, refused to go north of the Bow River and camped along the Oldman RIver. A new reservation was eventually established between the Bloods temporary campground and the St. Mary River. This is where they settled. He built a log house, grew From a fearsome youth with a violent temper and expert horse stealing he became a chief of peace and a law-abiding citizen who knew the value of modern education and traditional customs. He earned the coveted title of the "Father of his tribesmen."

He had two wives "Singing First" and "Spear Woman."

Red Crow drowned August 28, 1900 while crossing the St. Mary River. His adopted son, Crop Eared Wolf succeeded him. A Memorial Cairn was elected at Stand-Off, July 15, 1944 as a token of Red Crow's fame and courage as leader and Chief of Bloods.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup