History & Tradition

A Brief History & Profile of the Red Earth Cree Nation

Treaty No. 5 was entered into by the Saulteaux and Swampy Cree on September 20, 1875. The Treaty covers the central region of Manitoba, extending south as far as the southern tip of Lake Winnipeg and north to a point on the Nelson River, northeast of Thompson and westward including a small area of land in mid-Saskatchewan and the region of northwestern Ontario.

Treaty 5, like Treaties 1 and 2, provided for reserves to be set apart for the signatories, to the extent of 160 acres for each family of five, or 32 acres per person. Unlike Treaties 1 and 2, however, Treaty 5 specifically made reference to the setting apart of reserves for “farming lands” and “other reserves” for the benefit of the Indians. Prior to the signing of Treaty 5 in 1875, the Minister of the Interior, David Laird, advised the Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Territories, Alexander Morris, that the primary object of concluding a treaty that year was to meet the wishes of certain bands with a view to the early selection of their reserves. If at all possible, consultation with the Indians on reserve selection was to take place immediately.

Red Earth or Mihkoskiwakak is situated along the Carrot River in northeastern Saskatchewan. The Red Earth Indian Reserve (IR) 29 and Carrot River Indian Reserve 29A are located approximately 77 kms east of the Town of Nipawin. The Pas, Manitoba, lies approximately 140 kms east of Red Earth. In the 1800s, the Shoal Lake Crees had marriage ties with The Pas Band, while the Red Earth Crees associated with the Crees at Fort à la Corne.

By the end of the 1800s, the Red Earth and Shoal Lake Crees had grown closer socially and through intermarriage, which in turn resulted in fewer ties with Fort à la Corne and The Pas.

Treaty annuity paylists indicate that the Red Earth and Shoal Lake people, who were referred to as the Pas Mountain Indians, were considered to be part of The Pas Band. The first paylist for The Pas Band, in 1876, included 13 families who were identified as the Pas Mountain Indians. For the next two years, the Pas Mountain Indians had a separate paylist but received annuities at The Pas.

When the Pas Mountain people complained about having to make the long journey to The Pas to receive their treaty annuities, a separate “Pas Band” paylist was created for them in 1886 and they started to be paid at Shoal Lake.

Starting in 1903, Red Earth and Shoal Lake each had its own paylist in which they were called the “Red Earth Band” and the “Shoal Lake Band.” Thus, when The Pas Band signed the 1876 Adhesion to Treaty 5, and in subsequent years when reserves were being set aside for The Pas Band under treaty, Red Earth and Shoal Lake were considered to be part of The Pas Band, along the Carrot River at the Pas Mountain.

The Onikanikwak (Leaders) & Okimahkanak (Chiefs) of Mihkoskiwakak Red Earth

The ancestral lands of the Red Earth Crees encompass tracts of lands and waters to the east into parts of Manitoba, from thereon back into Saskatchewan along the southern foothills of the Pasquia Hills and west towards the Township of Nipawin and back east just above the EB Campbell Hydro Station Transmission Line. The ancestral lands are shared with the Shoal Lake Cree Nation.

As of June 2020,

  • the total population for Red Earth Cree Nation is 1903 Mihkoskiwakak Nehiyawak (Red Earth Crees), inclusive of approximately 265 members who live off the reserve
  • a majority of the population is under the age of forty (40) years of age
  • there are 206 houses with an average of 9 persons per home
  • members and residents receive water and sewer services through the community’s system and septic There are 185 serviced houses and 21 houses have septic tanks.
  • unemployment hovers at 80%
  • the majority of full-time, permanent, seasonal, part-time, contractual employment opportunities are limited to the public service sector in band administration, health, education, transportation, housing, capital project construction, social development programs and services delivery
  • local businesses include the First Nation-owned Lionel Head Memorial Store
  • private businesses are primarily in Medical Services Transportation
  • additional private businesses include seasonal outfitting
  • Unemployed including non-employable members receive Income Assistance
  • Red Earth Cree Nation receives policing services from the Carrot River Two officers are posted at Red Earth
  • The economy of the Red Earth Cree Nation is largely dependent on federal, and to a certain extent, provincial government allocations under annual and multi-year funding arrangements

The traditional economy of the Red Earth Crees is still very prevalent. Sustenance and subsistence hunting, trapping, fishing and gathering maintains and sustains the relationship and reliance of the Red Earth Crees to the lands and resources throughout their traditional territory.

Photos of Days Past

There is one paved access road into the Red Earth Cree Nation. This is on Highway #163 north of Highway #55 east. Hwy 163 is the only access road in and out of Red Earth, is open year-round and subject to a variety of weather conditions.

The reserve lands of the Red Earth Cree Nation are situated in the middle of the Cumberland Delta, along a natural levee of the Carrot River waterway, surrounded by wetlands, lakes and the fringe of the boreal forest. The reserve lands are basically situated in a flood plain and annual and seasonal flooding does occur;

  • Annual and seasonal floodwaters arise primarily from the natural spring melt and run-off from the lands and waterways to the north, south, east and west of Red Earth
  • Additional floodwaters come through man-made drainage and channels off farmlands from as far south as Wakaw and feed into the waterways, as the Carrot River, near or by Red Earth
  • Heavy monsoon seasonal rain often accompanies and compounds to the run-off or becomes so extreme during the rain season in late summer to cause flooding

One of the earliest recorded major floods to hit Red Earth happened in May 1921, resulting in the death of most of the livestock for the owners of the period.