papastew was a highly respected leader of the Papaschase Band #136. His name translates to large woodpecker in English.
It is estimated that the Papaschase Band traded with the Hudson’s Bay Company regularly and members were also occasionally employed by the company.
In 1877, Chief papastew, and his brother Tahkoots signed adhesion to Treaty 6. By 1879, the buffalo were near extinction, adding to the disaster of a North-West famine. The federal government failed to provide sufficient support as pledged in Treaty 6.
When land was surveyed for the Papaschase Band in 1880, they were given a plot of land far smaller than their needs required. The 249 members were only given 40 square miles. In addition, the Band originally chose a location several miles south of Fort Edmonton, but European settlers did not want the community so close, and petitioned the federal government to force the Band into complete surrender. papastew agreed to move their nation further away, but this was only the beginning of the Band’s disputes over land.
After more than a decade of hardship—enduring the famine, managing land that did not suit their needs, no assistance from the government—many members of the Band moved to other First Nations. Indian Affairs offered scrip, a one-time payment of cash or land to First Nations, to members. However, taking scrip meant being stripped of their Indian status. The remaining members faced starvation and eventually surrendered the land. Surviving members of the Papaschase Band have actively disputed the terms of the surrender and are working to reclaim their membership and land in the area.
With his people dispersed and their land surrendered, papastew moved to St. Paul de Métis where he later died of influenza in 1918. The descendents of the Papaschase Band #136 number in the thousands. Some continue to live in Edmonton and others in nearby First Nation communities. The ward has been named in the Chief’s honour for the historical role his people played in the formation of Edmonton.