Chiefs - Galafilm
Sitting Bull, Sioux Poundmaker, Cree Joseph Brant, Mohawk Black Hawk, Sauk Pontiac, Ottawa

Home First Nations Series Challenge Gallery Forum References

 Cree Nation
 Significant People
 Key Events & Battles
 Life & Culture
 Territory Maps
 Current Events



Indian Sundance
Click to enlarge picture
Plains Cree bands were loose, shifting units named for the territory they occupied or the political chief they followed. Band allegiance depended largely on the prestige and generosity of the political chief. Families usually attached themselves to the most prestigious chiefs. Except in times of war, a family was free to leave any time it was dissatisfied with the chief. When a chief died, his son often succeeded him. If the son lacked the necessary qualities for leadership, the band gradually accepted some other outstanding man as chief.

When an important decision had to be made, a "crier" summoned the leading men to the chief's lodge. The chief put the matter before them. Each leader then spoke in order of age and prestige. The youngest spoke first, the highest-ranked spoke last. The final decision was usually made by consensus. However a chief might listen to everybody's advice and then decide for himself.

Warrior Society
The bravest young fighters were called 0kihtcitawak or Worthy Young Men.
The bravest young fighters were called 0kihtcitawak or Worthy Young Men. Some acquired this title after their very first raid; others took considerably longer to prove themselves. Worthy Young Men became members of the Warrior Society when they were formally invited to sit in the Warriors' lodge and participate. Warriors, especially unmarried ones, spent much of their time in the lodge, eating, sleeping, and dancing. On communal buffalo hunts, Warriors acted as a form of band police, ensuring no one got too eager and stampeded the herd. Warriors also guarded the line of march when camp was moved and made sure stragglers were not left behind.

War Chief
The band's Warrior Society chose the War Chief based on his prestige and proven ability in war. The War Chief led the dances and directed policing operations. In times of war, he took over the general leadership of the band.

Crime and Justice
Theft was rare. If a thoughtless child took something belonging to another, his/her father immediately returned it to its owner. Murder demanded blood revenge. If families were caught up in a blood feud with no peace in sight, the Worthy Young Men related to the participants would get involved. They would bring the families together (by force if necessary) into a tipi. There the families would be shown the sacred Pipe Stem. The Stem was held in such high regard that its presence was usually enough to dissipate the feud.


Cree Drummers
Click to enlarge picture
As was common to native tribes, the Cree regarded family as the absolute value. The Cree family was an extended family in which aunts and uncles were considered mothers and fathers. All band elders were seen as grandmothers and grandfathers. Even distant relatives of one's own age were cousins, and those of one's parent's generation were considered aunts and uncles. Families often adopted older people or children who had no family of their own.
Discover more

 Life & Culture 

More ...

 Did you know? 

The name of Saskatchewan, one of Canada's Provinces, comes from the Cree for "swift flowing river."

"There is no such a word as high treason in the Cree language."
Poundmaker to General Middleton May 26, 1885