History in the Canadian West
A group called the Blackfoot Confederacy ruled southern Alberta and also parts of present day Montana. Hostile and suspicious of the fur trading outsiders, unlike the Cree, they weren’t interested in welcoming the invaders. Just as they didn’t welcome other tribes into their territory either.
Indian Battle Field – is a monument where a bloody battle between the Cree and the Blackfoot happened. History shows there was one way that the mighty Blackfoot nation could be defeated. Whiskey traders soon discovered there was a lucrative business selling booze to the Natives. Nick-named Fort Whoop Up (Fort Hamilton) was one of the most infamous of whiskey forts in Southern Alberta.
Between alcohol and smallpox – which often spread like wildfire – whole groups of Indians died and the Blackfoot Nation became a shell of their former self. The fort’s recipes for the alcohol were made of ingredients that are unbelievable to imagine – from shoe-polish to turpentine. It was a sad time in our history. For a time there was no law, no one to stop the horrors happening. No wonder, Fort McLeod a little distance outside of present day Lethbridge was the first fort the Northwest Mounted Police (present day RCMP) established in the west. Some of Canada’s worst atrocities against the natives were perpetuated here in Southern Alberta.