Big River First Nation is located 98 km northwest of Prince Albert and 19 km southwest of the village of Debden. It is uncertain when the original Indigenous populations began to settle on the banks of the long, narrow Oklemow-Cee-Pee River (Big River), but the Cree Chief See-See-Way-um signed Treaty 6 on September 3, 1878, and for the next twenty years his band remained self-sufficient as they continued to hunt, trap, and fish the bountiful resources of the area. Kenemotayoo was the second chief, and one of the oldest trails in the district was named after him. The 11,964.8-hectare Big River Cree reserve land consists of farmland, natural meadows, an abundance of trees, and lake waters. Economic development opportunities include agriculture, forestry, trapping, tourism, and commercial fishing and hunting camps. A popular historic site is the buffalo jump on the outskirts of Victoire, where buffalo herds were stampeded over the hilltop. Another attraction is the remnants of the Carlton Trail, which during the days of the Fur Trade provided a link between Edmonton and Winnipeg. Facilities available in the community include a band office, Mistahi Sipiy Elementary School, Se-se-wa-hum High School, the Whitefish Arena, an Internet access site, a carpentry shop, an arena, laundromat, health clinic, and Elders’ Hall. There is a current band population of 2,700 members, with 1,918 people living on reserve.

Christian Thompson