Monday, July 4, 2016


Century-old photo of First Nations man on Saskatoon street shrouded in mystery
According the book, The Face Pullers: Photographing Native Canadians 1871 – 1939, this photo was taken in by Ralph Dill, Saskatoon's first photographer, about 1905

A mysterious, disturbing image captured on the streets of Saskatoon more than a century ago continues to provoke questions and outrage.
Who is the First Nations man on the ground, and how did he get there? Who are the settlers standing at the rail? What are the sheets of paper some of them hold? Are their wives and children watching? Why are the two boys staring at the man? What are they all thinking?
After all this time, do remnants of these attitudes and power dynamics remain in the city?
The Story Keeper
The photo surfaced earlier this year on the popular Facebook page of Tyrone Tootoosis, a Cree historian and descendant of Chief Poundmaker. According to the self-described "story keeper," the picture was taken in Saskatoon on July 1, 1906.
"This has to be the saddest pic I have ever seen. I wonder what he thought as he sat there with all those white men around him," one woman posted.
"The man who is on the ground is the only one with dignity and honor in this picture," read another post.
Some asked questions about the photo or thanked Tootoosis for posting this reminder of the era's shameful attitudes. Others said the racist attitudes persist in more subtle ways.
Tootoosis said the photo, as well as a current one highlighting more positive relations, should be placed inside a time capsule with the recommendations of the recently-completed Truth and Reconciliation Commission...

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