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Transcript of Aatsista-Mahkan
“When Running Rabbit was among his band, his men were invited to eat, smoke, tell stories every day. He was generous. He gave his running horses out during hunts. Running Rabbit had four wives; two put up Sun Dances. He was kind to children and women.”
- Descendant on Running Rabbit's leadership
In 1877, along with Crowfoot, Old Sun, and other leaders, Running Rabbit signed Treaty No.7 with the Canadian government on behalf of the Blackfoot tribe.
He was known mainly for his generosity and kindness to others, and for his loyal protection of his family. When an Indian began beating his blind brother with a whip, Running Rabbit shot and killed the man.
Aatsista-Mahkan was a chief of the Siksika First Nation.
His father was Akamukai (Many Swans), chief of the Biters band, and after the death of his father in 1871, Aatsista-Mahkan became chief of the band.
Aatsista-Mahkan had four wives and eleven children, the most famous and successful child being Duck Chief, who became a head chief.
Running Rabbit was born in 1833 and died on January 24th, 1911 on the Blackfoot Indian Reserve in Alberta.
When Running Rabbit was a teenager, his older brother Akamukai (Many Swans) was chief of the band.
To encourage Running Rabbit to go to war, Many Swans lent him his spiritual protector that he had received through a vision. It was made of a round mirror decorated with weasel skins, and eagle and magpie feathers. On his first raid, Running Rabbit captured two enemy horses, which he gave to his brother. Many Swans lent the amulet to him three more times and, because he was successful on each raid, gave it to him.
As a warrior, Running Rabbit killed 11 enemy in battle and captured numerous horses. People began calling him the “young chief” while he was still a teenager.
By Moira Carlson
After the death of his brother Many Swans, in the autumn of 1871, Running Rabbit became chief of the Biters band.
In the early 1870s, when the Blackfoot were camped on the Oldman River, the daughter of Crowfoot was accidentally killed by a man with a gun. The man took refuge in Running Rabbit’s tepee because Crowfoot, one of the head chiefs, wanted to kill him. Running Rabbit persuaded the chief that the shooting was an accident, and offered two of his own horses as compensation.
In 1881, after the last buffalo herds had been destroyed, the Blackfoot were forced to settle on their reserve, near what is now Calgary. Running Rabbit was one of the chiefs who adapted to the new life most ambitiously. He encouraged members of his band to become self-supporting. He was mentioned by Indian agent Magnus Begg as one of the Blackfoot who “deserve special mention as having worked well with their own ponies and with the work oxen.”
Running Rabbit was named one of the two head chiefs of the tribe in 1892, replacing No-okska-stumik (Three Bulls). He shared the leadership with Old Sun, but because he was younger and more progressive, Running Rabbit often spoke for the entire reserve. He became known for his wisdom and his ability to remain free of family problems.
Even though years were difficult after they settled on their reserve, Running Rabbit was a chief who was respected by his people and by the government. When he died in 1911, he was compared to great leaders like Crowfoot and Old Sun.