George Manz submitted this article on the First Nations Medals to be exhibited at the Regina Coin Club spring show and sale to be held on April 13-14, 2019. Thanks. -Editor
When Queen Victoria died on January 22, 1901, it began a series of events that would have great consequences for the future of the British monarchy and its overseas
With her death, Victoria’s eldest son became Edward VII.
Edward’s eldest surviving son was next in line to the throne, so he sent the young George on a trip to many parts of the British Empire. The Duke, and his wife, the Duchess of
Cornwall and York, left England on March 16, 1901 aboard H.M.S. Ophir. For the next nine months, they visited Gibraltar, Malta, Ceylon, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand,
Mauritius, South Africa, St. Vincent, and finally, Canada and Newfoundland.
Melvill Allan Jamieson’s book “Medals Awarded to North American Indian Chiefs 1714-1922” chronicled the event: “…As in other parts of the British Empire a gathering of the
native tribes was held to offer allegiance to the Royal travelers who were representing the King Emperor.”
On September 28, 1901, the Royal party rode in a special carriage two miles west from Calgary to Shagannapi Point, a wide plateau among the foothills overlooking Calgary. In
ancient times, it served as a meeting ground between Blackfoot and Cree. Approximately 2,000 representatives of the various First Nations tribes of western Canada were encamped
there, including Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarcee, Stony and Cree. They were wearing their finest buckskins, feathers, leggings and moccasins.
It was a grandiose affair. A detachment of North West Mounted Police accompanied the Royals and the Governor General of Canada, Lord Minto.
The 12 Head Chiefs of the First Nations tribes were presented to the Duke, who greeted and shook the hand of each Chief. A young Sarcee boy then read a statement welcoming the
Duke “to the land of our forefathers.” Each of the Head Chiefs of the six First Nations then gave a speech in their own languages.
This was followed by a speech from the Duke to the assembled First Nations peoples.
His speech ended with “From the warmth of your reception I feel that you will also long remember this day. In order to specially commemorate it the Great King has ordered that
a suitable silver medal shall be struck, and one will be presented to each of the Head Chiefs, which shall always be kept by him so long as he remains in office, and afterwards by
Each of the 12 Head Chiefs received a 65mm silver medal. The obverse of the medal depicts the busts of their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York
encircled by a scroll of maple leaves. The reverse shows the Royal Arms in the centre, underneath CALGARY SEP. 28th 1901 surrounded by PRESENTED TO HEAD CHIEFS IN COMMEMORATION OF
ASSEMBLY OF INDIAN TRIBES. The medal is suspended by a ring, with a red, white and blue ribbon at the top of which is a brooch showing a male First Nations in a canoe, holding a
paddle in both hands.
In addition, 24 similar bronze medals were presented to sub Chiefs.
Both the silver and bronze medals were produced by P. Ellis Company of Toronto.
After his return to Britain, George was proclaimed Prince of Wales in November 1901. He became King George V in 1910, leading Britain until 1936. His granddaughter, Elizabeth
II, is currently on the throne.
The medals will be on display at the Regina Coin Club spring show and sale, April 13-14, 2019 at the Turvey Centre, just north of Regina.
First Nations representatives have been invited to cut the ribbon to open the show. Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Thomas Molloy will attend the show as Queen Elizabeth’s
George Manz is Fellow of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association and President of the Regina Coin Club.
For more information on the Regina Coin Club, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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