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The Siksika Nation Profiles - Natosapi (Old Sun)


In 1819, on the plains of what would later be known as central Alberta, Natosapi or Old Sun was born to the Siksika (Blackfoot) First Nation. Because of his success as a warrior, Natosapi grew to become a respected leader among the Siksika. Along with Crowfoot, he was one of the few Siksika chiefs to survive the smallpox epidemic that ravaged the Siksika Nation from 1869 to 1870. He was also known as a powerful medicine man who went on a vision quest and received spiritual power from a deer. He was also said to have carried a sacred amulet that could cure blindness.

Natosapi remained a warrior all of his life, and his wife Calf Old Woman was one of the few Siksika women to live out her life as a member of the Siksika warrior society. Old Sun was initially opposed to making any treaty with the Europeans. Eventually, he deferred to Crowfoot and agreed to sign Treaty 7 in 1877, though in his speech of agreement at the time, he stressed the importance of what had been agreed too and hoped the government would keep up its end of the bargain:

Everything you say appears to me to be very good, and I hope that you will give us all we ask – cattle, money, tobacco, guns, and axes, and that you will not let the white man use poison on the prairies. It kills horses and buffalo as well as wolves, and it may kill men.
From Morris, Alexander, The treaties of Canada with the Indians of Manitoba and the North-West Territories, including the negotiations on which they were based, and other information relating thereto, pg. 273.

After the signing of the Treaty, Natosapi settled with his band in an area north of where Crowfoot and his band had settled. He remained a staunch adherent of traditional Siksika life showing only tolerance for missionaries and the farming lifestyle the Siksika were being asked to embrace. Natosapi remains to this day a symbol of strength in the face of difficult times.

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