BRAVEHORSE WARRIOR Hunkajuka
KILLED IN ACTION
Chief Little Soldier
HUNKAJUKA (Little Soldier, sometimes cited as Little Chief), chief of a nomadic band of Assiniboines of the North-West Territories;
killed at Cypress Hills (Saskatchewan), May 1873: Virtually nothing is known of Little Soldier prior to the significant event
in which he lost his life. The incident has an explanation in social problems in the North-West Territories when the area
was acquired by Canada in 1870: horse stealing was rife among the Native Americans and the southwestern region was demoralized
by American whiskey traders infiltrating from posts on the Missouri River. The episode began with a band of “wolfers,”
traders and hunters who followed the buffalo hunt and poisoned carcasses to kill the scavenger wolves whose furs they sought.
A mixed party of Canadian and American “wolfers” had their horses stolen while en route to Fort Benton, Montana
Territory, in early spring 1873. Organizing an expedition to recover them, they rode into Canadian territory, and arrived
at the whiskey-trading outpost of the Fort Benton merchants, operated by Abel Farwell and Moses Solomon in the Cypress Hills.
There they found Little Soldier’s band they mistakenly suspected of the thefts. Little Soldier attempted to appease
the “wolfers” but drunkenness on both sides contributed to the violence which ensued on a Sunday in early May
(probably 4 May). Little Soldier and between 15 and 35 of his followers were wantonly slain.
The Canadian government had already introduced legislation to provide for policing the territories, but news of this
massacre hastened the organization of the North-West Mounted Police. Dispatched to the area in 1874, the subsequent persistence
of the nwmp in bringing the “wolfers” to trial demonstrated their resolve to administer justice in the North-West
Territories without racial distinction and won them the respect of the native people. From: historical accounts & records