John Tootoosis, Cree, 1899-1989
He was a Native political leader from Saskatchewan. John Tootoosis was born on the Poundmaker reserve and was the grandson of Yellow Mud Blanket, Poundmaker's brother. Tootoosis’ history as a political leader began in 1920 when he was appointed chief of his band, although his authority was denied by Indian Affairs because he was not yet 21. During the 1930s Tootoosis worked for the League of Indians of Western Canada and was elected secretary and organizer for the Prairie Region. John continued to organize Saskatchewan Natives despite attempts by government agents to restrict his movements and ban him from reserves. He was also threatened with excommunication from the Catholic Church. In 1946 the Protective Association and the Association of Saskatchewan Indians met to form the Union of Saskatchewan Indians.and Tootoosis served as both president and executive member for the Union for many years. In 1959 it reorganized as the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians and Tootoosis was elected as its first president. In 1970, he was appointed to the newly formed Senate of the FSI and for the next 19 years served his people as an active elder statesman. Tootoosis was very active in the Lander lobby to protect Treaty rights and maintain the special link Native people have with the Crown. His efforts and those of other leaders led to the entrenchment of treaty rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights. Tootoosis participated in four First Ministers Conferences in a continuing effort to define Native rights.

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