Viewed 2468 times
On March 4th of this year, Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was welcomed as an honourary member of the Tsuut’ina Indian tribe of Alberta, and presented with a honourary headdress sealing the ceremony. As well, he was credited with an aboriginal name, “Gumistiyi”.
Tribal spokesmen, Chief Roy Whitney, explained that the headdress, or “war bonnet”, symbolizes accomplishment, respect, bravery, and peace building. He referred to the golden eagle feathers, which made up the impressive bandore, as the “most sacred of all feathers” to First Nations peoples.
This endowment was different than the one which took place in July of 2011, involving former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on whom was bestowed the title of “Chief Speaker”, as he was declared to be an honourary chief of the Blood Tribe of Southern Alberta.
They were not the first public figures to be feted in this manner. Prince Charles, Pierre Burton, and David Suzuki, as well as former Prime Ministers John Diefenbaker and Jean Chrétien, preceded the aforementioned heads of state.
At least ten hockey personalities have been made honourary chiefs by various Native Canadian tribes. The first was George Armstrong whose mother was Algonquin (his father was Irish) but he has always been deemed an Indian. His presentation took place when he journeyed West with the Senior ‘A’ Toronto Marlboros in 1950, to participate in the Allan Cup playoffs against Calgary. The Stoney Mountain Tribe of Morley, Alberta bestowed upon him the title of “Big Chief Shoot-the-Puck”, in an elaborate ceremony, complete with the donning an impressive headdress. (More details are included in the caption accompanying the photo on this page.)
Big Chief Shooting Puck - George Armstrong (The Hockey News, June 15, 1950)
For a number of years, “Jolly Jack” Adams chose to hold the Detroit Red Wings training camp at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The former star professional player, who became coach of the Motor City sextet in 1927 (and eventually General Manager), would not be a stranger to receiving honourary titles. His wife was from Napanee, Ontario, and he became known as the “Squire of Napanee”, due to the many favours rendered for his spouse’s home town. Two years running he took the Wings to the Eastern Ontario community, arranging for the NHL squad to face off against the local Comets. Individual players were welcomed into local schools, bringing smiles from the admiring children, as autographs were freely scribbled out for all comers. It earned the congenial NHL icon this appropriate tribute.
But in 1951 the Native Americans of Chippewa County in Northern Michigan regaled him with an elaborate headdress, and tagged him “Chief Flying Cloud.”
In 1955 Lynn Patrick was a visitor to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, where he had taken in the final match of the Provincial Junior Hockey League. He was sponsor of the local club named the “Indians”, and he made a special presentation to Don Chiupka, the circuit’s scoring champion. On that same occasion the team reciprocated by declaring him “Chief of the Humboldt Indians”.
Later that spring the great “Newsy” Lalonde was touted at Hogansburg, New York, where he was made honourary chief of the Mohawk-Iroquois Tribe. The Caughnawaga Indians endowed him with the title of “Chief Great Runner”. Colourfully attired in their full regalia, two Indian warriors, accompanied by four Indian princesses and two Indian boys from the St. Regis reservation, took part in the celebration. They began the proceedings by performing their welcome dance.
Next, in the traditional manner, Riding Wolf and White Deer searched the crowd for the man they wished to honour, and escorted “Newsy” from the stands to the centre field of the Hogansburg stadium, where lacrosse (one of the sports in which Lalonde starred) was played. A ceremonial robe was placed upon his shoulders, and he knelt, Indian rattle in his hand, while the officiating tribe members sang their official chants to the beat of tom toms. At the close he was fitted with a colourful Indian headdress, and presented with the traditional pipe of peace.
Across the border, in his home town of Cornwall, that Friday had been officially proclaimed as “Newsy” Lalonde Day!
Freddie Sasakamoose was called the “reluctant Blackhawk”. The first Canadian Treaty Indian to make it to the NHL, his stay with Chicago was short-lived. It had nothing to do with his talent level, and everything to do with his wife’s aversion to the big city. Freddie was lonely without her in the Windy City, and, after 11 contests in the Big Time, he packed up and returned to Saskatchewan. After completing the 1954-55 season with New Westminster of the WHL, and skating for Calgary of the same circuit the following year, he rounded out his shinny career with Kamloops Chiefs, a Senior level club.
In 1957 the Kamloops Indian Reserve paid tribute to him by making him Honourary Chief of the Kamloops Reserve, with the title “Chief Thunderstick”, alluding to his famous slapshot.
Twenty years later he was elected band chief, an actual C.E.O. position, of the Atahkakoop Reserve, a position he held for four years.
In January of 1958, British Columbia celebrated its Centennial. As a part of that gala affair the city of Vancouver arranged an Old Timers hockey game. Upwards of 30 of the former greats of the game laced on their blades for a special exhibition tilt. Elmer Lach and Bryan Hextall led the “Whites” squad, while Neil Colville, who once starred with the Rangers, was in charge of the “Blues” contingent. The latter sextet was thrashed to the tune of 10-2.
Maurice “Rocket” Richard was engaged to officiate the match. Previous to the opening face-off the Squamish Indian Reserve honoured him with the title “Chief Black Bear”. He donned a ceremonial headdress and continued to wear it as he refereed the game. In fact he never left the ice following the competition, continually circling the boards, graciously autographing programmes and hockey sticks.
In April of that same year, following the Canadien’s elimination of the Red Wings from the playoffs, Coach “Toe” Blake received a long distance call from a First Nations gentleman from the Caughnawaga Reserve wanting to know if the “Rocket” would go down and allow himself to become chief of the tribe. His reply was that he was “already an Indian Chief”, referring to his Vancouver experience. His decision at that time was “put on hold”
However, in 1962, he did agree to the endowment by the Montreal area band of that same tribe. He shared the moment with another Habitant icon, “Butch” Bouchard. For obvious reasons the former was dubbed “Big Chief Net Filler”. The tribe’s Chief Poking Fire then declared Bouchard to be “Big Chief Hive Filler”, referring to his off-season avocation as a beekeeper.
While details are lacking, another Montreal rearguard, Dollard St. Laurent became “Chief Great Heart”.
That same spring Bobby Hull became “Otistokowa” (Chief Great Star) as the Mohawk band from his home area of Belleville conducted a special ceremony in the Blackhawk dressing room. They presented him with feathered regalia to commemorate the occasion.
During most of his career Johnny Bucyk bore the nickname “Chief” because of his swarthy complexion and his features which were similar to Native North Americans. On page 38 of the April 11, 1980 issue of the Hockey News, the Bruins’ long-time left winger is pictured in an elaborate Indian War Bonnet, presented by Native Canadian Stan Jonathan. The ceremony was in keeping with his retirement after a brilliant 23-year career. He was jokingly referred to as a member of the Blackfoot Tribe. But his witty comeback was: “No, it’s actually the Flatfoot Tribe.”
Before it became “politically incorrect”, many NHL’ers with an Indian heritage were tagged as “Chief”. Jim Nielson, Ron Delorme, Gino Odjick, and Bobby Taylor are a few. Those monikers were unofficial. But the ten featured in this missive had it made “official”.
Viewed 2468 times
That Decisive Seventh Game
Posted May 26, 2019
You Gotta Have Hart!
Posted May 13, 2019
He Shoots! He Scores! Hockey's Clarion Call
Posted April 25, 2019
Second Thoughts on Penalties
Posted April 14, 2019
His Night to Howell
Posted March 30, 2019
Posted March 18, 2019
Humour - A Way to Catch Your Balance
Posted March 03, 2019
The Revival of Hockey's Lost Art of Stickhandling - Part 2
Posted February 15, 2019
The Revival of Hockey's Lost Art of Stickhandling - Part 1
Posted February 01, 2019
The Rise and Fall of Sweater Number 9
Posted January 23, 2019
Penalty-Free NHL Games
Posted January 09, 2019
The Greatest of These is Charity
Posted December 22, 2018
Minor League 'Davids' Defeating Major League 'Goliaths'
Posted December 07, 2018
The Shadow Knows
Posted November 25, 2018
Lying Down on the Job
Posted November 04, 2018
The Perils and Pleasures of Water
Posted October 19, 2018
Hockey's Cinderella Teams
Posted October 07, 2018
Posted May 19, 2018
Hockey's Classic Embarrassing Moments
Posted May 10, 2018
Playing in a Fog
Posted April 21, 2018
Posted April 08, 2018
First Game, First Shift, First Goal!
Posted March 26, 2018
Always a Bridgroom
Posted March 12, 2018
The Year the Canadiens Almost Died
Posted February 24, 2018
Tangled With the Law and the Lawless - Part 2
Posted February 17, 2018
Tangled With the Law and the Lawless
Posted January 28, 2018
Lucky Black Cats and Number 13
Posted January 17, 2018
Concussions in Hockey Nothing New
Posted December 30, 2017
The Best Christmas I Remember
Posted December 18, 2017
Filling the Gap
Posted December 01, 2017
Off Duty Injuries; mishaps away from the rink
Posted November 13, 2017
The Most Cruel Bird of All
Posted October 26, 2017
Las Vegas — NHL's 31st Team — Knights or Knaves?
Posted October 13, 2017
Playing Under the Influence - of Pain
Posted May 29, 2017
In Tune Pucksters
Posted May 14, 2017
Laughter - The Best Medicine
Posted April 29, 2017
The Last Straw
Posted April 15, 2017
Whose Side Are You On Anyway?
Posted March 30, 2017
Ferreting Out Phantom Hockey Stars
Posted March 17, 2017
A Woman's Place...is On the Ice (Part 2)
Posted March 08, 2017
A Woman's Place...is On the Ice (Part 1)
Posted February 19, 2017
Tales From the Sin Bin!
Posted February 04, 2017
Happy 100th Birthday N.H.L
Posted January 25, 2017
New Year's Resolutions that Might Have Been
Posted January 06, 2017
It Happened on December 25th
Posted December 21, 2016
The Best of Hockey's One-Liners
Posted December 10, 2016
The Price of Stardom
Posted November 18, 2016
Is There a Doctor in the House?
Posted November 03, 2016
Auston Matthews: Liberator or Lemon?
Posted October 14, 2016
Hockey's Multi-Generation Families
Posted June 16, 2016
Picture Perfect - A Dozen Classic Hockey Photos
Posted June 08, 2016
Anatomy of the Penalty Shot
Posted May 17, 2016
Posted April 17, 2016
Records That Will Never Be Broken
Posted March 31, 2016
Right Church — Wrong Pew
Posted March 23, 2016
Does "Captain" Mean Much Anymore?
Posted March 02, 2016
Posted February 21, 2016
Now That's Not Pun-ny!
Posted February 07, 2016
A Century of Leap Year Landmarks - Part 2
Posted January 26, 2016
A Century of Leap Year Landmarks - Part 1
Posted January 06, 2016
Posted December 29, 2015
Practice Can Be Precarious
Posted December 11, 2015
How Much is a Body Worth?
Posted November 25, 2015
Brooklyn Bridge is Falling Down...
Posted November 15, 2015
Did You Have a Good Summer? (Part Two)
Posted November 01, 2015
Did You Have a Good Summer? (Part One)
Posted October 16, 2015
From Champs to Chumps
Posted June 07, 2015
CLEAN PLAY……CLEAN PLAYERS….TRUE SPORTS
Posted May 11, 2015
Putting the Bite on the Opposition
Posted April 24, 2015
One Eyed Wonders
Posted April 12, 2015
Captain Cage Cop
Posted March 26, 2015
Trade Deadline Deals — Blockbuster or Bluster?
Posted March 17, 2015
Fun In the Snow
Posted February 27, 2015
Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated
Posted February 16, 2015
It's not what they said - it's what they meant!
Posted January 31, 2015
Posted January 18, 2015
Hockey's New Years Babies
Posted January 03, 2015
Strange Gifts - Christmas or Otherwise
Posted December 20, 2014
Two Dozen + 1 Wacky Wonders
Posted December 06, 2014
The Last of a Long Line of...
Posted November 24, 2014
A Compendium of Referee Non-Calls
Posted November 09, 2014
40th Anniversary of the 1974 Summit Series
Posted October 25, 2014
The Many Faces of Training Camp
Posted October 13, 2014
The Rise and Fall of Playoff Heroes
Posted May 30, 2014
Boston Bruins Celebrate 90 Years
Posted May 17, 2014
A Curse Upon Ye!
Posted May 01, 2014
For the Birds
Posted April 20, 2014
They Were Not Fooled By Their Birthdates
Posted April 08, 2014
Bitten By The Hand That Feeds
Posted March 22, 2014
Tongue in Check
Posted March 08, 2014
A Few L.A.F.F.S. to Relieve your S.A.D.
Posted February 21, 2014
The Ultimate Valentine - A Kiss
Posted February 08, 2014
Hats Off to Hockey
Posted January 25, 2014
Posted January 11, 2014
New Year's Revelations
Posted December 30, 2013
Posted December 23, 2013
Esposito vs Esposito - Smith vs Smith
Posted November 30, 2013
Just Dying to Play Hockey
Posted November 17, 2013
What's In 50 Years
Posted November 02, 2013
The Ongoing Resolve - NHL Season is Too Long!
Posted October 20, 2013