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Wandering Spirit   (184?-1885)
Name Kapapamahchakwew
Band Plains Cree
Highlights War Chief of the Big Bear Band
Instigated the Frog Lake Massacre
Convicted of murder and hanged
"The sentence of the court is that you, Wandering Spirit, be taken back to jail till Friday the 27th day of November, and then be taken to the scaffold and there be hanged by the neck until you are dead; and may God have mercy on your soul."
Judge Charles Rouleau, September 24, 1885

Biography
Born in 1845 near Jackfish Lake, Saskatchewan, Wandering Spirit distinguished himself early as a warrior. During his life, he killed 15 of the Cree's traditional enemy, the Blackfoot -- more than any other Cree warrior of his time. He became the War Chief of the Big Bear Nation in the late 1870's.
Wandering Spirit was hostile towards the European settlers - primarily for their role in the disappearance of the buffalo. On an 1880 hunting expedition in Montana, he met Louis Riel. The Métis leader tried to convince Wandering Spirit that the Cree and the Métis should join together. The proposed goal - to expel the whites from the Great Plains and form an independent country of their own.
On April 2, Wandering Spirit led his warriors into Frog Lake where he killed Quinn. His followers then killed eight non-natives and one Métis.
In 1885, Wandering Spirit expressed his repeated frustration with Thomas Quinn, the Indian Agent at Frog Lake, Saskatchewan. Quinn had a strict "no work, no food" policy towards the Cree. On April 2, Wandering Spirit led his warriors into Frog Lake where he killed Quinn. His followers then killed eight non-natives and one Métis.
Wandering Spirit surrendered at Fort Pitt in early July. At his trial he admitted shooting Thomas Quinn but refused to explain why. He had no lawyer to defend him.
The day before his execution, Wandering Spirit told a journalist he did not fear death. His main concern was going into the after-life with a ball and chain attached to his ankle. He was greatly relieved to hear it would be removed before his execution.
According to Cree tradition, on the scaffold before his execution, Wandering Spirit did not sing his death song, but a love song for his wife. Wandering Spirit was hanged November 27, 1885 at Battleford, Saskatchewan.
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"When the white men were few in the country I gave them the hand of brotherhood. I am sorry so few are here who can witness to my friendly acts."
Chief Big Bear at his 1885 trial