Battle of the Belly River

Battle of the Belly River

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of the Belly River
date=October 25, 1870
place=in what is now Lethbridge, Canada
result= decisive Blackfoot victory
combatant1=Blackfoot Confederacy
combatant2=Cree First Nation
strength1=500-800 warriors
strength2=500-800 warriors
casualties1=40 killed
50 wounded
casualties2=200-300 killed

The Battle of the Belly River was the last major conflict between the Cree and the Blackfoot Confederacy, and the last major battle between First Nations on Canadian soil.

The battle took place on the banks of Alberta's Belly River (now the Oldman River), within the present limits of the city of Lethbridge. A devastating outbreak of smallpox had reduced the strength of the Blackfoot, and a Cree war party had come south in late October, 1870 in order to take advantage of that weakness. An advance party of Crees had stumbled upon a Peigan camp and decided to attack instead of informing the main Cree body of their find. Soon word passed to other Blackfoot, Blood and Peigan camps in the immediate area, and warriors were sent to join battle. After several hours of trading shots, a Blackfoot party gained the high ground and made the Cree positions untenable. The retreat became a rout, and up to 300 Cree warriors were killed trying to make their escape.

Approximately a year after the battle, the Cree and Blackfoot made a formal peace. Treaty No.7, between the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Crown, was signed in 1877. In 1890, the town of Lethbridge was founded near the battle site. The battle itself is commemorated in Indian Battle Park.


:*Paterson, TW. Canadian Battles and Massacres. Langley, BC: Stagecoach Publishing, 1977.:*Johnston, Alexander, ed. The Battle at Belly River. Lethbridge, AB: Alberta Historical Society, 1966. :* [ City of Lethbridge] - History

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