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No. 387: Peace for a Thousand Miles: Part Three

In 1714, Captain James Knight of the Hudson's Bay Company was anxious to alleviate tensions between the various First Nations people. He would then all bring their furs to the post at York Factory.

He referred to his objective as "peace for a thousand miles around."

As historian Jack Ives explains, he did this by sending emissaries to the north and to the south.

The southern prong of Knight's approach involved a prominent Cree trading captain, who was known in English as Swan, or with the name Wapasoo. So, Swan was a prominent man who, every two years, would come in to York Factory, get European goods from Knight and then go back far into interior North America to trade these goods, and also to encourage other bands that he encountered to bring their furs down to York Factory as part as this Hudson's Bay trade.

So, between 1714 or 1715 and 1721, Swan was engaged in a series of expeditions to make the southern part of the peace that Knight was asking for.

And he in fact did succeed in doing this. It's likely that the peace that Swan constructed was with another Athapaskan or Dene-speaking group, in this case, the Beaver Indians, then living in northern Alberta, and today resident in northwestern Alberta and northeastern British Columbia.

The elderly Captain Knight died before Swan could bring about the great peace he so desired.

But in the end, the meeting at Peace Point, on the Peace River in northeastern Alberta, was a great event.

We don't know exactly what Swan would have done to achieve this peace, but we can imagine in terms of our present day knowledge, that he would have used the trade goods that Knight had given him as part of the scenario that one would have in mind. No doubt there was feasting and meeting amongst peoples, because Swan was travelling with his own band, not just by himself. And one would also expect oratory, or speaking about why it would be desirable from those First Nations' perspectives to achieve a peace.

Swan's actions are known only through notations in the journals of Henry Kelsey, for it was Kelsey who succeeded Captain Knight in taking charge of York Factory on the Hudson Bay.

On the Heritage Trial,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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