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Indigenous Immigrants and Refugees in the North American Borderlands by Brenden W. Rensink, Texas A&M Press, 2018

Chapter 4, Note 31 (pages 77 and 240)

In the massacre’s aftermath, Canadian military efforts to apprehend the perpetrators likewise suggest a broad acceptance of Wandering Spirit as the most culpable person. (p. 77)

Chapter 4, Note 31 . . . for sources and discussion of Canadian military correspondence concerning Wandering Spirit. (p. 240)

A series of telegrams from Major General Middleton detail the evolving military perspective concerning individual Crees and the massacre. First, on May 27, 1885, Middleton reported on a message he had sent to Big Bear, who was still at large. Calling for Big Bear to surrender, Middleton demanded that Big Bear “give up the men who committed the murder at Frog Lake,” suggesting that he held distinguished between Big Bear and the guilty parties. This was not an offer of amnesty to Big Bear, however, as Middleton later groups Big Bear collectively with “his band” as being both guilty and necessitating punishment. By late June, Middleton sent word to Big Bear, requesting that he give up Wandering Spirit “and any other Indians who had committed or aided in committing the murders at Frog Lake,” adding that if he did so, he and the rest of his band would be allowed to return to their reserves unmolested. Finally, Middleton made note in late July that Wandering Spirits and other “Frog Lake murderers” had come in, with no mention of Big Bear.[1] By this time, guilt seems to have been parceled out, and Wandering Spirit was to shoulder much of it. When interviewed prior to his execution, Wandering Spirit expressed regret and that he deserved the death sentence placed upon him.[2]

[1] Major-General Fred Middleton to Hon. A.P. Caron, from Battleford, NWT, May 27, 1885; Major-General Fred Middleton to Hon. A.P. Caron, from camp at Frog Lake, June 14, 1885; Major-General Fred Middleton to Hon. A. P. Caron, from Fort Pitt, June 25, 1885; and Major-General Fred Middleton to Hon. A.P. Caron, from Regina, NWT, July 20, 1885, in Morton and Roy, eds., Telegrams of the North-West Campaign, 322, 346, 362, and 388.

[2] Blair Stonechild, Loyal Till Death: Indians and the North-West Rebellion (Calgary: Fifth House, 1997), 222; Douglas W Light, Footprints in the Dust (North Battleford, Canada: Turner-Warwick Publications, 1987), 534.