Louise May and Raphael Cree
Raphael and Louise May Cree were a couple who lived by the traditional trapping and hunting ways of the Woodland Cree in the area of the Clearwater River in Alberta. Both Raphael and Louise were older than the province. Raphael was born in the Clearwater River area in 1893, while Louise was born in 1899, a full six years before Alberta joined Confederation. The couple were married for more than seventy years.
Raphael Cree was a good example of one of the ways in which Aboriginal traditions were changed by the surrounding non-Aboriginal culture that was moving into the north. Born Raphael Sepotaganum, this name was later changed to Lafeur, but was registered to the Indian affairs Department as Cree. The Cree name came about because Raphael and his brothers worked with Dominion survey crews mapping the Fort McMurray region. Raphael and his brothers were dubbed the “Cree boys” by the other surveyors, and when Treaty 8 was signed by the Cree in 1899, Raphael was registered under the Indian Act by the last name Cree.
Both Raphael and Louise had a great deal of knowledge about traditional ways in the northwest. The cabin in which they lived for most of their years was a fine example of traditional log construction and weatherproofing. Louise May Cree died in 1996, at the age of ninety-seven. Raphael Cree managed to live until the beginning of the twenty-first century, and died in 2001, aged one hundred and eight.