The area of the Red Earth and Carrot River Reserves once included a trail that led from the parklands to the Saskatchewan River delta, and which was used until the 1930s. The region marked the territorial boundary between the Plains and Swampy Cree, and Red Earth was the most northern Plains Cree community. By the late 1800s clusters of cabins under the leadership of Kiseyinis (“Little Old Man”), his son Mihkwanakeskam, his daughter Jessie and son-in-law Pahkwayis, as well as his daughter Harriet and son-in-law Newakeyas were established; a fifth site was occupied by Cecim, an unrelated Plains Cree. Kiseyinis and Cecim signed an adhesion to Treaty 5 on September 7, 1876, and reserves were surveyed for them in 1884 (Red Earth) and 1894 (Carrot River). The Red Earth people were able to maintain their traditional way of life, supplementing it with gardens and livestock as the need arose. In the 1930s, however, drought caused a localized extinction of beaver and a drop in muskrat numbers, leading to the closure of the Hudson’s Bay Company store on Red Earth. This, along with the infringement of farmers along the Carrot River into their hunting grounds, forced band members to rely more heavily on their gardens, livestock, and wage labour. The Red Earth First Nation is located 75 km east of Nipawin and has 1,189 band members, 1,032 of whom live on reserve.

Christian Thompson