Little is known of
Chief Maskepetoon's early years, except that he was born around 1807. As a young man he gained a reputation as a warrior
and brave Cree leader. In his later years, the Chief would be known as a
strong advocate of Christianity.
Maskepetoon's band of Plains Cree
travelled in a wide area that stretched from central Alberta to southern Saskatchewan and northern
Manitoba and he often encountered Methodist missionaries, many of
whom later spoke of the hospitality and friendship of the
Sometime in the early 1840s Maskepetoon met Robert Rundle and
they became friends. The
two men made plans to travel south together, promoting peace among the
tribes. Although the tour never took place, the ideal of peace was planted
for Maskepetoon and he continued his relationship with the
Methodist missionaries. In 1865, Thomas Woolsey baptized the Chief and his wife under the names Abraham and
Sarah, and two years later the advocate of peace negotiated a truce
(although short-lived) between the Blackfoot and Cree at what is now Wetaskiwin,
or Peace Hills.
In Wanderings of an Artist Among the Indians
of North America, renowned artist-explorer Paul Kane noted that Maskepetoon believed in the superiority
of Aboriginal spirituality over Christianity. Nevertheless, the Cree Chief
saw in Christianity a means to bring peace to his people and, thus, helped the missionaries in their work.