This page is a text version of the History of Portage la Praire and Surrounding District. You can get a PDF copy of the book on our full version page. The PDF copy is an exact page by page representation of the original book. This text version has been reformated for the web and contains text recognition mistakes. These mistakes do not appear in the full version. The full version also includes each image in the original book.

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ing of all older folk, they will not even be a memory. For that reason, we know you will appreciate the importance to a future genera tion of the pictures shown here.

Mrs. A. D. McKay, who was instrumental in starting the first Indian Residential School in Portage la Prairie in 1886, wrote an interesting document for church records which depicts Indian life in that era:


"The history of this school da tes back to the spring of 1886, but the idea of which it was the outcome, had been slowly evolving for more than a year, perhaps several years prior to that date.

The band of Indians, (whose proper name was said to be "Dakotah" Indians, but were commonly known as "Sioux,") who had settled near Portage la Prairie, had been forced to flee from the United States after the Minnesota Massacre of 1876 in which some of them had taken part. During the summer they lived in canvas "Tepees" (tents) on the eastern outskirts of the town, that now is, retiring in winter to wretched log huts in the bush on the banks of the Assiniboine River, three miles south. Until the advent of the white population, they roamed at will over the plains, hunting, fishing and picking up a living as best they could. When the Dominion Government entered into treaty with the Indians of the North West Territories, placing them on lands known as the Indian Reservations, the Indians at Portage la Prairie were offered a tract of land near Griswold, Man. About half the band accepted and removed their goods and chattels thither, but the rest preferred to remain where they were. Portage la Prairie had become home to them. The white settlers were kind, employing them in the grain fields in summer, and in winter often allowing them to warm themselves by the kitchen stove and drink cups of tea and eat thick slices of bread. The Indian women or "squaws" as they were called, earned consid­ erable by washing clothes, scrubbing stores and doing other odd jobs such as picking potatoes, etc. The white "squaws" gave them old clothes and other odds and ends. It was a common sight to see the Indian men roaming about the streets, wearing beaded leggings moccasins, and blankets, their faces gaily painted with various colors, the hair braided and decorated with feathers, a terrifying sight to a newcomer in the town. The squaws were not so picturesque, their clothing was often scanty enough and they might often be seen going home with a load of poplar poles, the large ends on their shoulders, the small tops dragging on theĀ· ground. Though they