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marching west
The Mounties march from the Sweetgrass
Hills to Fort Whoop-UP.

A recent color photo of
the Sweetgrass Hills (35 kb),
which was taken from Writing On Stone
Provincial Park.

The Mounties Arrive:

While waiting for Colonel Mcleod's return from Fort Benton, Denny writes that, "At this Sweet Grass camp the first party of traders passed with loads of buffalo robes, no doubt spoils of the whisky trade, going south. We searched their wagons, but found no liquor. They were objects of great curiosity to us."

When Colonel Mcleod returned, he had hired a 37 year old scout and interpreter named Jerry Potts. Potts, who was part Blood and part Scottish, rode at the front as they headed for Fort Whoop-Up.

The Mounties soon noticed that although Potts was also their interpreter, he said very little. When they came across the dead body of an Assiniboine that was in bad shape, Potts was asked to explain what had happened. Pott's simple reply was: "Drunk."

When they reached Fort Whoop-Up, there was no one there to fight. The whiskey traders and wolfers had found out ahead of time that the Mounties were coming and chose to leave.

a trading area, probably
 inside Fort Whoop-up,
 in Lethbridge - 152 kb
Click here to view a color photograph (152 kb).
The trading area inside a whiskey trader fort.
This photograph was probably taken
inside of Fort Whoop-up, about 1980.

Potts then led the Mounted Police westward to a new site where they built Fort Macleod. As they built the new fort, Potts visited the Blackfoot in the area to explain why the Police were there and to get promises of peace.

Denny also reports:

Patrols were sent out to look for whiskey traders on their way south, trying to evade the police. There were a number of captures. The offenders were heavily fined, their liquor spilled, and their robes, teams, and wagons confiscated.

The Indians soon began to come in and set up large camps near us. Councils were held. They were told the reason for our coming into the country, and without exception declared themselves well pleased at seeing an end put to the whiskey trade. Hundreds of Blackfeet, Bloods, and Piegans visited us while the fort was building. There were in those days a fine lot of men, for the most part friendly. . . . With plenty of meat in their lodges, no happier people might be found anywhere. They gave us valuable assistance in locating the whisky traders and in suppressing the traffic.

Before winter, Potts brought the major chiefs of the Blackfoot tribes to the fort. After Col. Macleod listened to the Blackfoot speak for a period of time, he wanted to know what was being said. He asked Potts. Potts just shrugged his shoulders and said, "Dey damn glad you're here."


  to Part 6: The End of the Canadian Wild West.


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