184 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 May 2007

The Cypress Hills

An Island by Itself

UBC Press, Purich Publishing

“A warm place in the north that is an island by itself” is how the Nakoda people described the Cypress Hills.

With an abundance of buffalo, other game, and lodge pole pine, the hills, straddling the Alberta/Saskatchewan/United States border, were a natural gathering point for First Nations and Métis peoples. Their presence drew the Hudson Bay Company and American free traders, whiskey traders, and wolfers. The presence of the latter two groups led to a clash of cultures culminating in the 1873 Cypress Hills massacre, an armed ambush of a Nakoda camp by a group of drunken wolfers and whiskey traders, killing men, women, and children. This event brought the Northwest Mounted Police to maintain peace in the west, and led to the creation of Fort Walsh, today a national historic site. And it was to Wood Mountain, just east of the Hills, that Sitting Bull and his followers fled after defeating Lt. Col. Custer in the Battle of Little Big Horn.

History is not static. Building on the success of their earlier work, The Cypress Hills: The Land and its People, authors Walter Hildebrandt and Brian Hubner revisit the hills and bring new and updated material to this book. While portions remain the same as the original book, new information about the Nakoda peoples and the Métis, as well as modern revelations, are added plus 19 additional photographs and images.

At last, now, there is a true, fairly comprehensive history for us to read. Not only scholars will be grateful, but also, all of us who have made our lives here… [We] owe a debt of gratitude to Walter Hildebrandt and Brian Hubner for undertaking this work…”

—Sharon Butala, from the foreword

Walter Hildebrandt is known as both a poet and historian. A consultant on Aboriginal treaties, he is co-author of The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7, which won the Gustavus Myers Award for outstanding work on intolerance in North America in 1997. He is the author of Views From Battleford: Constructed Visions of an Anglo-Canadian West, and The Battle of Batoche: British Small Warfare and the Entrenched Métis.

Brian Hubner has published numerous articles and book reviews, as well as being co-author of two editions of a book of the history and people of the Cypress Hills; The Cypress Hills: The Land and its People (1994) and Cypress Hills: An Island by Itself (2007).


1. The Cypress Hills and their People

The Hills

The People

2. The Buffalo and the Fur Trade

The Buffalo

The HBC and the Fur Trade to 1870

Indian Women in the Fur Trade

3. Whoop-Up Country

The American Traders

The Trading Cycle

4. The Cypress Hills Massacre

The Personalities

5. Fort Walsh and the NWMP

The Fort Established

The Life of the Mounties

6. Treaties and Reservations

The Prairies in Transition

The Downstream People and Treaty 4

Sitting Bull and the Dakota in Canada

7. The Nakoda

The Nakoda and the Hills

The Nakoda and Treaty 4

The Cypress Hills Reserve 1879-82

The Relocation of the Nakoda from the Cypress Hills

The Indian Head Reserve

8. The Modern Age

Reserve Life

The Nekaneet Band

Aboriginal Women on the Reserve

The Ranching Era

Fort Walsh National Historic Site




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