CHINIQUAY (Che-ne-ka, Chiniki), JOHN, Stoney chief; son of a Cree mother and a father who may have been a Métis; probably d. 1906 on the Stoney Indian Reserve at Morley, Alta.
Government records indicate that Chiniquay was born circa 1834, although his appearance by the turn of the century suggests an earlier date. As a child he lived along the Red Deer River (Alta) in the camp of Maskepetoon*, a great Cree chief and noted advocate of peace. He was given the name John by a missionary, probably Robert Terrill Rundle* who was a regular visitor to the camp in the 1840s.
Eventually Chiniquay left the Cree to live among the Stoney people. Descendants of Sioux bands that had migrated to the north and west during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Stoney hunted and trapped along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, living in small groups and moving with the seasons. They were allies of the Cree against the Blackfoot. By the mid 19th century they had three main divisions. One, sometimes called the middle band, hunted primarily along the Bow River and its tributaries. The territories of the other bands extended north to the Athabasca River and south to Chief Mountain, Mont.
Chiniquay lived with a Stoney family after the death of his parents. As a young man, he trapped and hunted along the headwaters of the Red Deer River. According to oral tradition, he married the sister of Chief Jacob Bearspaw [Ozîja Thiha]. He was a proven peacemaker and leader in the Stoney camps, and by mid century he was the acknowledged chief of the middle band. When George Millward McDougall* and his son John Chantler McDougall* established a Methodist mission on the Bow River at Morleyville (near Morley) in 1873, Chiniquay became one of its strong supporters and was known as a devout Christian.
The 1870s were critical years for the nations of the prairies and foothills. The Canadian government was eager to establish its authority and extinguish aboriginal title to the land, while native leaders were anxious to secure what they could for their people’s future. As historian J. R. Miller has remarked, “In large part because the two sides approached the negotiations with different purposes and assumptions, their understanding of them was different at the time and has remained unhappily so to this day.” In September 1877 Indians from much of what is now southern Alberta – Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarcee, and Stoney – met at Blackfoot Crossing to discuss a treaty [see Isapo-muxika*]. Chiniquay was one of three Stoney chiefs who attended and who signed the agreement, Treaty No.7. It projected reserves of one square mile for each family of five persons. Whether the Stoney chiefs were informed or understood how small the tract would be is open to question. The location of the reserve was not defined beyond a statement that it would be “in the vicinity of Morleyville.” Seeds of future difficulties were sown by the fact that the region covered by the treaty did not take in the lands of the northern band, led by Ki-chi-pwot (Jacob Goodstoney or Big Stony). Moreover, unlike the other tribes, who were directed towards ranching, the Stoney were expected to become farmers.
In 1879 a surveyor arrived at Morleyville to lay out the reserve. Of the Stoney chiefs, only Chiniquay was present, and John McDougall, who seems to have been eager to have all the Stoney close to the mission, acted as translator. These factors, combined with the treaty’s wording, resulted in the entire allotment for the Stoney being surveyed along the Bow River, an arrangement that created much dissatisfaction. Furthermore, it soon became clear that the soil was unsuited for crops. As long as the Stoney were able to make their living by hunting, their economic situation was tolerable, but increasing white settlement caused a downward spiral in the game population, and competition from other native groups for the remaining animals intensified. In the fall of 1893 Chiniquay represented the Stoney at a meeting in Golden, B.C., with the Kutenai to establish a boundary between the hunting territories of the two peoples. A line along the Continental Divide was agreed upon.
Chiniquay became the longest-serving chief of his band. He believed strongly in education and was a frequent visitor to the reserve’s day-school, where his photograph was taken in 1887. The Indian agent’s report of 30 June 1906 refers to the band by his name, but a letter by a local missionary, dated 24 Dec. 1906, notes that Chiniquay had died during the past year. Band members recall that Chiniquay was pleasant, generous, and fair-minded. His name is perpetuated through the official designation of the Chiniki Band, and through the names of various places and institutions. He is buried in the band’s cemetery at Morley.
The fullest account of Chief John Chiniquay’s life appears in vol.1 of John Lee Laurie’s unpublished study, “The Stony Indians of Alberta” (a four-volume typescript prepared for the Glenbow Foundation, [Calgary], 1957–59, and available at GA, M4390), but since it is sparsely footnoted most of his sources cannot be verified.
Additional information concerning Chiniquay and Stoney history appears in the oral history collection at the Nakoda Institute, Stoney Tribal Administration (Morley, Alta), in particular the transcript of a 1972 account by Chief Bill McLean of the Bearspaw Band (tape A-3).
GA, M656, file 25. Can., Pad., Sessional papers, 1903–8, annual reports of the Dept. of Indian Affairs, 1902–7. J. R. Miller, Skyscrapers hide the heavens: a history of Indian-white relations in Canada (Toronto, 1989), 164. Morris, Treaties of Canada with the Indians. J. W. Niddrie, “Memories of Morley,” ed. J. W. Chalmers, Alberta Hist. (Calgary), 40 (1992), no.3: 10–13. John Snow, These mountains are our sacred places: the story of the Stoney Indians (Toronto and Sarasota, Fla, 1977). “Stoney history notes,” comp. P. M. Jonker (20-page pamphlet issued by the Chiniki Band of the Stoney Indians, Morley, 1983).