Fine Day

20″ x 30″ Acrylic on Canvas

In Permanent collection of Royal Alberta Museum

Fine-Day was one of the most fierce, well known and respected Plains Cree warriors of his time. He was involved in dozens of battles and horse raids. He was the head/lead warrior of the Rattler society, one of the many Plains Cree tribes of the powerful Iron Confederacy. He was a skilled warrior; hunter; trapper; and, in later life a powerful shaman and elder.

On May 2nd 1885 near Battleford Saskatchewan a battalion of North West Mounted Police and 350 Canadian Troops led by William Dillon Otter set foot to obliterate the massive Cree Assiniboine encampment led by Poundmaker. They had 2 cannons and a Gatling gun. A scout early in the morning spotted the approaching soldiers and quickly sent word to the camp. Fine-Day immediately organized a counter attack. The Cree fought in small groups. One group would run forward, attack the soldiers then rush back to the ravine before the soldiers could get them. As soon as the soldiers tried to attack the warriors on one side, another group of warriors would rush out of the second ravine and attack them from behind. All other warriors guarded the women and children. Otter could not attack, because he had no idea where the enemies were nor of their numbers. After six hours of fighting, Otter decided to withdraw and retreat. Many of Fine-Day’s men wanted to chase the retreaters down and kill them but Poundmaker asked the warriors to let them leave and live. The warriors respected Poundmaker and Otter so the men safely escaped. Had Chief Poundmaker had not asked his warriors to let the troops escape the battle may have turned into a massacre, just like the Battle of Little Big Horn. Some People compare this battle, the Battle of Cut Knife, to the Battle of Little Big Horn.

It is estimated that Fine-Day had only 50-100 warriors and Canada had nearly 400 troops two cannons and a Gatling gun. The Cree still won. Thus the destroyed cannon burning on fire at the bottom of the painting is present.