Almighty Voice | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Almighty Voice

Almighty Voice (or Kitchi-manito-waya, meaning “Voice of the Great Spirit,” also known as Jean-Baptiste), Cree, outlaw (born around 1875 near Duck Lake, SK; died 30 May 1897 at Batoche, SK).
Almighty Voice

Early Life

Almighty Voice grew up on the One Arrow Reserve near Batoche, Sakatchewan. His grandfather, chief Kapeyakwaskonam (One Arrow), was a signatory to Treaty 6 at Fort Carlton in 1876. His father, Sinnookeesick (Sounding Sky), participated in the North-West Resistance of 1885. Life on the reserve for Almighty Voice and his fellow Plains Cree was difficult (see Indigenous Peoples: Plains); since their territory was controlled by the colonizers, practicing traditional ways of life, namely hunting, was limited (see Buffalo Hunt).

Arrest and Escape

On 22 October 1895, Almighty Voice was arrested for butchering a government steer and transferred to the jail at Duck Lake. While imprisoned, one of the arresting officers apparently told Almighty Voice in jest that the penalty for killing a government steer was hanging. Taking the joke seriously, Almighty Voice escaped from jail that night and fled to his reserve, about 32 km away.

Murders and Search Efforts

On 29 October 1895, North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) sergeant Colebrook tracked Almighty Voice down near Kinistino. During the attempted arrest, Almighty Voice shot and killed Colebrook. A $500 bounty was put on his capture on 20 April 1896.

There was some concern among police and Indian agents that Almighty Voice’s actions might encourage other Plains Cree to retaliate against colonial agents in an uprising. The pressure to find Almighty Voice was growing.

On 27 May 1897, Almighty Voice and two relatives — his brother-in-law and cousin — shot and wounded a local Métis scout near Duck Lake. The following day, NWMP inspector Allan cornered Almighty Voice in a poplar bluff in the Minichinas Hills, a few kilometres from his reserve. Shots rang out between the two, leaving Allan and a colleague seriously wounded. NWMP corporal C.H.S. Hockin, constable J.R. Kerr and Ernest Gundy, the Duck Lake postmaster, were all killed in an attack on the bluff that evening.

Death of Almighty Voice

On 30 May, a force of approximately 100 NWMP officers and civilians tried to capture Almighty Voice and his allies. The bluff was bombarded with heavy gunfire, resulting in the deaths of Almighty Voice and his two companions.

Almighty Voice’s tragic confrontation with the NWMP highlights the tension between Indigenous peoples and federal and police agents on reserves during the 1890s.

Further Reading

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