Assiniboin



ETHNONYMS: Assiniboine, Assinipwat, Fish-Eaters, Hohe, Stoneys, Stonies

The Assiniboin are a Siouan-speaking group who separated from the Nakota (Yanktonnai) in northern Minnesota sometime before 1640 and moved northward to ally themselves with the Cree near Lake Winnipeg. Later in the century they began to move westward, eventually settling in the basins of the Saskatchewan and Assiniboine rivers in Canada, and in Montana and North Dakota north of the Milk and Missouri rivers. With the disappearance of the bison (the mainstay of their subsistence) in the middle of the nineteenth century, they were forced to relocate to several reservations and reserves in Montana, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. Population estimates for the tribe ranged from eighteen thousand to thirty thousand in the eighteenth century. Today there are perhaps fifty-five hundred living on the Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations in Montana and in Canadian reserves, the largest being at Morley on the upper Bow River in Alberta.

The Assiniboin were a typical plains bison-hunting tribe; they were nomadic and lived in hide tipis. They usually employed the dog travois for transporting goods, although the horse was sometimes used. Famed as the greatest horse raiders on the Northern Plains, the Assiniboin were also fierce warriors. They were generally on friendly terms with Whites but regularly engaged in warfare against the Blackfoot and Gros Ventre. Many were converted to Methodism by Wesleyan missionaries during the nineteenth century, but the Grass Dance, Thirst Dance, and Sun Dance remained Important ceremonials. After the Second World War, the Alberta Stoneys became much involved in political activism and cultural betterment through the Indian Association of Alberta. An Assiniboin-language school and university-level courses are offered at the reserve at Morley.


Bibliography

Dempsey, Hugh A. (1978). "Stoney Indians." In Indian Tribes of Alberta, 43-50. Calgary: Glenbow-Alberta Institute.

Kennedy, Dan (1972). Recollections of an Assiniboine Chief, edited and with an introduction by James R. Stevens. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.

Lowie, Robert H. (1910). The Assiniboine. American Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Papers 4, 1-270. New York.

Notzke, Claudia (1985). Indian Reserves in Canada: Development Problems of the Stoney and Peigan Reserves in Alberta. Marburger Geographische Schriften, no. 97. Marburg/Lahn.

Whyte, Jon (1985). Indians in the Rockies. Banff, Alberta: Altitude Publishing.

Writers' Program, Montana (1961). The Assiniboines: From the Accounts of the Old Ones Told to First Boy (James Larpenteur Long). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

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