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Peepeekisis Cree Nation No.81

The Peepeekisis Nation is located in the Qu’Appelle Valley in southern Saskatchewan

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The Peepeekisis Nation, located in the Qu’Appelle Valley in southern Saskatchewan, has a complex history. It was the site of the radical social experiment, the “File Hills Colony”, which had far-ranging impacts still evident today.

Unique to other reserves in Canada, in 1896 Peepeekisis was chosen as the location of a controversial experiment aimed at creating an agrarian First Nation and assimilating Aboriginals into the colonial farming lifestyle. Local Indian Agent William Morris Graham arrived when the band was without a leader, and during this unstable time, he began plans to establish the File Hills Colony. The Colony was meant to encourage pupils who graduated from residential school to abandon traditional ways of life and permanently adopt a non-Aboriginal homesteading farmer lifestyle.
In 1902, 12 square miles were subdivided from Peepeekisis land and given to promising new graduates, as selected by Graham and school leaders. In 1906, a further 210 acres was portioned off and allotted to more graduates. This left under 8,000 acres for the original band members, who were now outnumbered by newcomers. Those placements who stayed were eventually granted full band membership.

Officially, File Hills Colony was touted as a model for other schools—a colonial showpiece. Tours for royalty and U.S. Government officials were given to display Canada’s ‘successful’ management of Aboriginal peoples.
In 1955, original band members took legal action. The judge ruled that more recent colony members could maintain full membership. In 1986, members submitted a specific claim to the Department of Indian Affairs and the Indian Claims Commission found Canada was in breach of its lawful obligations to the band. It was recommended that the claim be entered for negotiation under Canada’s Specific Claims Policy. The claim has yet to be settled.

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