They call it Katepwe, who calls, and the river that meanders through it Katepwe-Cipi – the calling river. The nomadic Cree and Saulteaux who roam this vast landscape, call themselves the ‘Calling River People’, and their voices have echoed across the valley for centuries. These hills and plains once reverberated with the thunder of migrating buffalo, and the exuberant cries of the nomadic tribes who pursued them. Later, when the herds were gone, it echoed with a new sound – the ring of shovels and picks, as the grasslands were transformed into wheat and hay fields, and cattle now graze where buffalo once roamed. Who calls today in this valley known as Qu’Appelle?
Some say it is Cowessess, the great Chief of the Cowessess First Nation, guiding his people toward their dream of a sustainable future. When Chief Cowessess signed Treaty 4 in 1874, he wanted to ensure his people retained their independence and self-sufficiency. Despite numerous government restrictions, they became highly successful farmers and ranchers, growing enough to sustain themselves and selling surplus crops to nearby settlers. Today a new chapter is being written in the history of Cowessess First Nation, one that will see their vision of a sustainable future realized.