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Conflict And Struggle

Sun Dances Stopped
Indians Summarily Dealt With
For Attempting Heathen Practices

Saskatoon Phoenix
June 5, 1903. p.7

A Dispatch from Regina says considerable annoyance to the officials has been recently caused on the eight Indian reserves presided over by Mr. W.M. Graham, agent on the reserves comprised in the File Hills agency. Since the passing of the act about two years ago forbidding sun dances, give-away dances and the like there was no attempt to evade the law until last March when a sort of agitator among the Indians arrived at Piapot's reserve and sought to defy the law by an adroitly chosen technical point. He started "circle dances," at which nothing was given away but a supper. The first one was given on March 14th and was quickly followed by a series of others of a similar kind, at which the Indians appeared in all their paint and the squaws in all their finery.

The matter was getting serious, Mr. Graham caught the alarm and took proceedings against Etchease, the man who had started the dances, charging him with a breach of the Indian act.

At the preliminary hearing there was no dispute on the facts and the only point was whether giving a supper was a "giving away of goods" within the act. The magistrate decided to send the case for trial and Etchease was duly charged before Judge Richardson and a jury. This accused was found guilty and sentenced to three months imprisonment.

Another Indian named Shave Tail, who had followed the example set by Etchease and organized a dance so recently as the 16th of this month, was charged with enticing the Indians to a dance and was also found guilty, but was recommended to mercy and was liberated after a severe reprimand by the judge.