The Stoney Nakoda Nation Profiles - John Chiniquay (Chiniki)
The man destined to become head chief of the central band of the Nakoda (Stoney) was actually the child of a Cree mother and a Métis father. John Chiniquay was born around 1834 and spent his early years traveling with a Cree band in the Red Deer River region. It was during this stage of his life, sometime during the 1840s, that he was given the name John by Methodist missionary Robert Rundle, who made frequent visits to the Cree encampments at the time. After the death of his parents, Chiniquay left the Cree and was taken in by a Nakoda family whose hunting grounds were situated near the Red Deer River. Later, he married the sister of southern Nakoda Chief Jacob Bearspaw and became part of the Nakoda First Nation. He proved himself a man of peace and a reliable leader among the Nakoda and rose to leadership of the middle band around the 1850s. Chiniquay was a strong supporter of Christian missionaries and their work, and he converted to Christianity.
Chiniquay was one of three Nakoda First Nations chiefs (the others being Jacob Goodstoney, head chief of the northern Nakoda, and Jacob Bearspaw) who supported and signed the Treaty 7 agreement with the Canadian government in 1877. He was the only chief who attended the subsequent 1879 survey of Nakoda reserve lands, and without the two other chiefs present to express needs or concerns, the government decided to place all three Nakoda bands on a single reserve, near Morley. This may have come at the request of Methodist missionary John McDougall, who often translated for the Nakoda and who was eager to have all the Nakoda close to the mission he had established at Morley in 1873. The creation of a single reserve space for all the Nakoda led to great dissatisfaction among the Nakoda bands. Adding to this problem was the fact that the land chosen for the reserve was agriculturally poor. Chiniquay led his people through this trial, preserving a traditional hunting lifestyle despite the fact that encroaching settlement had taken its toll on local game.
Chiniquay continued to lead his people through to the transition from traditional to reserve life. He was a strong supporter of education and encouraged schools on the reserve. The band he led still bears his name, demonstrating the great value he had among his people. He died on the Morley reserve around 1906.