History & Culture

The Whitecap Dakota First Nation is part of the larger Dakota-Nakata-Lakota Nation whose traditional governance structure was called the Seven Council Fires or Oceti Sakowin, whose lands extended into both Canada and the United States. The Dakota have a long standing relationship with the British Crown, dating back to wampum ceremonies in 1762. A significant testament to this relationship is signed a Treaty between the British and the Dakota in 1787. The Dakota honored this treaty as military allies of the British Crown in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812.

The British promised to always protect and honor the promises made to the Dakota. In 1862, following an uprising in Minnesota, the Dakota, led by Chief Whitecap, Chief Standing Buffalo and Chief Littlecrow, followed their old trade routes along the Souris River and entered their old territories. But they were confronted with a new border they helped create during the War of 1812. The Chiefs brought with them the medals and flags given to them by the British and reminded the officials of the promises which were made to them.

The Dakota were given reservations in Canada, and Whitecap originally settled in the Beaver Creek area in 1878. They moved further south to their current location in 1879 and eventually the reserve was legally surveyed in 1881. In August, 1882, Chief Whitecap counseled John Lake on the location for a new temperance colony that would become the City of Saskatoon. We have co-existed as good neighbors since and our alliance continues to this day.

As WDFN moves forward, we continue to build partnerships as we reinforce our values and traditions of the past.

Contact With Europeans

1620’s – European Newcomers enter Dakota territory.

Trade Established

1670’s – Trade established between the Dakota and the French explorers, fur traders, and missionaries.

Frontenac Alliance

1695 – Dakota Chief Tioskate visits Governor General of New France Louis Frontenac in Montreal to establish a formal alliance.

Great Council Meeting

1742 – French Governor Beauhamois pledges support to Dakota Nation.

Seven Years War

1756-1763 – The Dakota assist British against French.

Nation-to-Nation Agreement

1760’s – Peace and friendship treaties between the British and Dakota Oyate.

Royal Proclamation

1763 – Royal Proclamation issued by King George III in to officially claim British territory in North America and set out guidelines for European settlement of Aboriginal territories.

Council of Niagra, Wampum Ceremony

1764 – Council of Niagara, Wampum exchanged between Crown representative William Johnson and 24 Western First Nations

American War of Independence

1775-1783 – Dakota Chief Wabasha appointed a General in British Army.

Smallpox Epidemic

1783 – Many Dakota people die from exposure to diseases introduced by newcomers in Dakota Territory.

Michilimackinac Treaty

1787 – Dakota sign written treaty with the British Crown at Fort Michilimackinac, renewing the bonds of the Dakota-Crown alliance.

War of 1812

1812 – War of 1812 begins, Dakota participate as allies to British.

Renewal of Commitments

1813 – British medal ceremonies with First Nations.

Treaty of Ghent

1814 – Signing of Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812 guaranteeing restoration of the sovereign position of the Dakota and other First Nations as had existed prior to the war.

49th Parallel Establishment

1818 – 49th Parallel becomes border between US and Canada in the central plains.

American Removal Act

1830 – The American Removal Act results in forced relocation of the Dakota to Midwest US

Treaties Made and Renewed

1860’s – Dakota Oyate make or renew treaties with Metis, Ojibwa, Cree, and Assinboine on prairies.

Minnesota War

1862 – Minnesota War erupts due to refusal of the American government to fulfill treaty obligations to the Dakota

Groups of Dakota return north

1862 – Groups of Dakota who refused to participate in the war follow trades routes to settle in their territory north of the 49th parallel; this includes Chief Whitecap.

Mass Execution

December 26, 1862 –  38 Dakota men sentenced to death and hanged in Mankato, Minnesota, making this the largest mass execution in US history.

Dakota-Crown Council

1863 – Dakota hold numerous councils at Fort Garry to claim fulfillment of Crown’s War of 1812 promises.

Canadian Confederation

1867 – The British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick joined into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

Wapaha Ska’s community travels

1870 – Wapaha Ska’s community travels and camps in areas that include Cypress Hills, Moose Mountain, Fort Qu’Appelle, and on the North Saskatchewan River near modern day Prince Albert.

Numbered Treaties signed 1870’s

1870 – Numbered Treaties signed: 1874 Treaty 4, 1876 Treaty 6

Introduction of Indian Act

1876 – Canadian Act of Parliament made covering governance, land use, healthcare, education, and more on First Nations reserves.

Wapaha Ska identifies lands for establishment of community

1879 – Wapaha Ska identifies lands along the South Saskatchewan River to establish the future WDFN community

Whitecap Dakota First Nation first surveyed

1881 – Whitecap Dakota First Nation (formerly Moose Woods) first surveyed

Founding of Saskatoon

1882 – Chief Whitecap leads John Lake to future site of the City of Saskatoon.

Riel Resistance

1885 – Riel Resistance; Wapaha Ska accompanies a group of warriors from his community en route to Batoche, where he is later arrested and charged with treason and imprisoned.

Wapaha Ska acquitted

June, 1885 – Wapaha SKa acquitted of all treason charges and is released from prison

First School constructed at Whitecap

1886 – Whitecap community petitions the federal government for an on-reserve day school. One room log school is later constructed at the First Nation.

Whitecap boundaries change

1888 – J. C. Nelson alters reserve boundaries without authorization; trades one piece of land for another, which provides an additional 0.3 square miles for the reserve, bringing the total size to 2.3 square miles or 1,472 acres.

Expansion of Reserve Lands

1890 – 1894 – Department of Indian Affairs officials agree that additional pasture and hay lands should be provided to Whitecap, but a series of administrative errors delays addition for a number of years. In 1893 lands are added to the reserve, but the community is not notified until 1894.

Whitecap develops cattle industry

1900’s – Whitecap community establishes thriving cattle and haying industry.

First Whitecap born teacher begins teaching at Whitecap School

1916 –  First Whitecap teacher, Charles Red Hawk, teaches at the Whitecap day school. Red Hawk taught for approximately eight years at the day school from 1916 to 1923.

Whitecap expands land base

1921 – SE ¼ 6-34-5 W3M added to WDFN Reserve Lands.  1926 – SW ¼ 6-34-5 W3M added to WDFN Reserve Land

Grazing Lands removed from Whitecap reserve

1930’s – Department of the Interior transfers the entire Dundurn Forest Reserve to the Province, including the grazing lands leased by the community, contributing to a loss of Whitecap’s cattle industry

Whitecap gives honourary title to Prime Minister Diefenbaker

1959 – Whitecap Dakota First Nation gives Prime Minister Diefenbaker honourary name “Walking Buffalo” at the inauguration of the Diefenbaker Dam at Outlook, SK.

Band Council Election Act is adopted

1979 – Whitecap adopts their Band Council Election Act, enacting an elected Chief and Council system.

Chief Whitecap Park created in Saskatoon

1979 – Saskatoon City Council officially names 350 acres of land along the Saskatchewan River “Chief Whitecap Park.”

New School opens at Whitecap

1996 – New Elementary School at Whitecap opens.

New Fire Hall opens at Whitecap

1999 – WDFN opens new fire hall.

WDFN ratifies Land code and FNLMA

2003 – Whitecap signs onto the Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management and ratifies  the Whitecap Dakota First Nation Land Code on November 7, 2003, enabling WDFN to self-govern its lands and eliminating 25% of the Indian Act.

Statue of Chief Whitecap donated to Saskatoon

2005 – Whitecap Dakota First Nation donates a sculpture of Chief Whitecap to Chief Whitecap Park.

Custom Election Act is adopted

2006 – WDFN adopts Custom Election Act

Dakota Dunes Casino opens

2007 – Opening of the SIGA Dakota Dunes Casino at Whitecap.

Chief Whitecap and John Lake commemorated

2008 – “The Founders” statue commemorating the meeting between Chief Whitecap and John Lake at the future location of the City of Saskatoon installed in downtown Saskatoon.

Chief Whitecap Trail Tourism Corridor created

2009 – Highway 219 designated by the provincial government as a Tourism Corridor named Chief Whitecap Trail.

second generation land code enacted

2009 – WDFN’s Second Generation Land Code enacted

Chief Darcy Bear receives Saskatchewan order of merit

2011 – Whitecap Chief Darcy Bear receives Saskatchewan Order of Merit

Whitecap Regional Health Centre opens

2011 – Whitecap opens new regional Health Centre, open to all residents in the Whitecap region.

Self-Government Framework Agreement signed

2012 – Whitecap Dakota First Nation signs a Self-Government Framework Agreement with the Government of Canada.

WDFN formalizes partnership with Saskatoon Health Region

2012 – WDFN formalizes a unique partnership with the Saskatoon Health Region to provide health services at Whitecap.

Dakota contribution to war of 1812 commemorated

2012 – Prince Charles presents Chief Bear with a commemorative banner at the Royal York Armoury in acknowledgement of the contribution of the Dakota in the War of 1812. The Government of Canada presents a commemorative War of 1812 medal to Chief Bear in commemoration of the Dakota-Crown alliance in the War of 1812.

WDFN signs partnership agreement with Saskatoon Public School Division

2013 – WDFN and the Saskatoon Public School Division [SPSD] sign an Education Partnership agreement, instituting a unique education co-governance model.

Whitecap designed War of 1812 monument unveiled in Saskatoon

2014 – Prince Edward unveils Whitecap’s “Spirit of Alliance” War of 1812 Commemorative monument at Riverlanding in Saskatoon.

Saskatoon park officially named Chief Darcy Bear Park

2015 – The park near Nutana Collegiate in Saskatoon officially named Chief Darcy Bear Park.

Chief Whitecap Waterway is designated

2015 – The portion of the Saskatchewan River extending between the Gardiner Dam and the City of Saskatoon is designated the Chief Whitecap Waterway and is considered part of the TransCanada Trail.

New clubhouse opens at Dakota Dunes

2016 – New clubhouse opens at Dakota Dunes Golf Links.

Self-Government agreement in principle is adopted by membership

2016 – Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle adopted by vote by WDFN Membership.

School expands and new Early Learning Centre opens

2016 – Whitecap Elementary School officially expands and is renamed Charles Red Hawk Elementary School. New Early Learning Centre attached to Elementary School is opened.

WDFN Governance Agreement in Principle is signed

April, 19, 2017 – The WDFN Governance Agreement in Principle is signed by Canada and Whitecap officials. This triggers the final procedures to complete The Self-Governance agreement.

Chief Whitecap School opens in Saskatoon

2017 – Chief Whitecap School officially opens in Stonebridge area of Saskatoon.