The escalation of tension and warfare between the Plains tribes culminated in the autumn of 1870 with the Battle of the Belly River. A Cree war council determined that an effective strike could be made against the Blackfoot because the recent smallpox epidemics had debilitated the Blackfoot warrior forces. A large party of some 600 to 800 Cree and Assiniboine warriors from several bands, including those of Big Bear, Piapot, and Little Pine, attacked an encamped group of two Blackfoot bands, Piegans and Bloods, near the confluence of the Belly (later Oldman) and St. Mary's rivers. The Blackfoot forces were better armed than their Cree counterparts and succeeded in driving back the surprise attack. The Blackfoot lost approximately 40 dead as opposed to Cree losses estimated as high as 300. The battle effectively ended inter-tribal warfare on the Canadian Plains, as peace formalities were concluded between the tribes the following year. The Plains peoples, faced with the calamities of disease and the decline of the bison, had more pressing concerns than warfare, and bands of both tribes now hunted the prairie region as jointly held land.

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