Historically referred to as the Moose Woods Sioux Reserve, the 1,677.4-ha Whitecap Dakota Reserve is located 26 km south of Saskatoon. Chief Wapahaska (White Cap) and his band settled along the South Saskatchewan River, and though not having signed treaty they received a reserve in June 1881. Band members farmed and worked as wage labourers in Prince Albert and the surrounding area. White Cap was unwillingly swept into the 1885 Resistance, and following Riel’s surrender was tried for treason but was acquitted. Band members trickled back to the reserve to begin rebuilding, and in the process switched to raising cattle. Over the years they developed one of the largest, top-quality slaughter and breeding-stock herds in the district, and expanded to include dairy cattle and draught horses. When cattle prices fell in 1905, they opened what was probably the first commercial feedlot in Canada, wintering cattle on consignment for settlers, and finishing slaughter animals for meat buyers and packers. However, they were unable to remain competitive in the cattle market after World War II, and while their economic ventures diversified, most band members turned to off-reserve employment. There are 456 registered band members, 222 of whom live on the reserve.

Christian Thompson