John Tootoosis ~ Sasakatchewan

Published on July 31, 2014 by Amy

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John Tootoosis
John Tootoosis

John Tootoosis was born on the Poundmaker Reserve in Sasakatchewan. He is a direct decendent of Chief Poundmaker.

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In 1912 he recieved his formal education at Delmas School, a Roman Catholic residential school. Realizing he had not been taught the skills to function in the white world he had to educate himself. This he did by reading and committing to memory all information in Cree and English.

On July 18th, 1929, John married Louisa Angus and together hd twelve children, ten boys and two daughters.

John is one of the staunchest and most consistent proponents of Indian Rights and Treaties in Canada and has devoted most of his life to this cause.

At the death of his father in 1932 he was elected by the Chiefs of the Battleford Agency to take his father’s place. The same year at an annual conference of the League of Indians of Western Canada he was elected Secretary and organizer for the prairie region.His travels took him to every reserve in the Battleford agency by whetever means of travel available; rail, wagon, horseback and even on foot.The importance and necessity of being organized was his messageto his people. He became very unpopular with governmen officials of Indian Affairs as well as missionaries because he became a threat to the colonial establishment.

At one point of his political career Indians had to have a permit to venture away from their reserve. John often never had a permit .He had to keep one step ahead of the R.C.M.P. whom the Indian Affairs Department had sent to brig him back to the reserve.

In 1934, he corresponded with Lawrence Two Axe who wanted to organize all Indian people in North America. Their idea was to reestablish Indian self – government but due to lack of funds was unable to attend any meetings. They were to set up an Indian international leadership of eastern and western U.S.A. and Canada.

In 1936 John took his first trip to Ottawa to present a brief to the powers that were in Indian Affairs . This trip became a historic occassion in more ways than one . The Secretary of the department then was McKenzie who gave John a very negative and insulting reception. Incidents such as this gave John more determination to press on , even to hte point of writing hundreds of letters by hand with no assistance and often leaving his family for long periods of time to accomplish what he set out to do.

Between 1936 and 1946, John continued to organize Saskatchewan Indians, personally attending band meetings, holding workshops and informing members of the importance of the Treaties and interpeting various implications of the Indian Act. he carried on despite attempts by government officials to ban him from visiting reserves and threats of excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church. In some cases through their interventions he was octrasized by some of his own people.

His dream was to unite Indian people.

Source: fsin

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