In May 1897, Almighty Voice, a member of the One Arrow Willow Cree, died violently when Canada's North-West Mounted Police shelled the fugitive's hiding place. Since then, his violent death has spawned a succession of conflicting stories — from newspaper features, magazine articles and pulp fiction to plays and film.
Almighty Voice has been maligned, misunderstood, romanticized, celebrated, and invented. Indeed, there have been many Almighty Voices over the years. What these stories have in common is that the Willow Cree man mattered. Understanding why he mattered has a direct bearing on reconciliation efforts today.
is the author of A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan before 1905, winner of the 2016 Governor General's Literary Award for Non-fiction. Bill is also the recipient of the 2018 Governor General's History Award for Popular Media (the Pierre Berton award). He lives in Saskatoon.
"Even though I'm a former mountie, deep down inside, I was cheering for Almighty Voice. I know how badly my people were treated by the federal government after our forefathers entered treaty in good faith. A great read."
— Rick Gamble, former Beardy's & Okemasis chief, former RCMP officer, and great grandson of Almighty Voice.
"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission challenged scholars to reckon with the past and address matters stuck in old doctrines of colonialism and denigration. Bill Waiser has written a masterful book that responds to this challenge by interrogating mythical stories about Almighty Voice, working respectfully with the One Arrow community, and reprising his life and tragic death with critical skill. Almighty Voice's defiance needs to be remembered, while the chilling indignity visited on his remains by police needs to be addressed."
— Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe), Director, Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, and Professor of Law, University of British Columbia
"The 'surprise package' arrived in today's mail this morning. I came to my computer to send a 'thank you' note but became distracted, engrossed in reading it. Now some hours later and having been late for lunch, I turn back to the keyboard to send enthusiastic expressions of CONGRATULATIONS on an excellent book. Very well done!
"I found that your diligent searching out and mastery of the archival sources when combined with the close personal connection you established with the families and chiefs and informed by your knowledge of the land has produced a ground breaking and very readable exploration of the person and his times. And in following though with the analysis of how journalists, historians, impersonators, film producers and playwrights have adapted the story and the myth to their own purposes, you have shown how the remembered past impacts current images. I expect this was a work, piecing together and breaking through the fog of the literature, of many years of discovery and reflection.
"Your gift was really a gift of several hours of informative and thought-provoking reading, animated throughout by an appreciation of your ability to write great history."
— Dr. Ian Wilson, the former Librarian and Archivist of Canada
"I am rightly impressed. All that research, all that reading, collecting all those pictures, etc. And everything so well, so thoroughly done."
— Tomson Highway award-winning playwright and author