Ranching Life

Jack Alex and Gabriel Paul, c. 1921. Jack later became chief of the Penticton Band.
Photograph by Lumb Stocks, O'Keefe Ranch and Interior Heritage Society F20-15

It simply is not feasible to be a full-time rancher in central Alberta with a herd smaller than sixty to a hundred head. Given the cost of feed, grain, veterinary bills, pasture, and the time it takes to feed the cattle, it is not possible for someone with ten to fifteen head of cattle to break even. People who keep small herds may kill some of that beef for their own use, but the main reason they keep them is because for us Cree people, it makes us feel good to have them around. It's good for the soul, you know. They're just healthy to have around you.

Garry Louis, Nehiyaw, Montana Reserve, Hobbema, Alberta, 1997

Jesse Primeau (right) is Métis, and the band administrator for a central Saskatchewan Nehiyaw band. When not performing in rodeos, he helps his father, Albert, on the government ranch he manages in Mayfair, Saskatchewan. Ward Anderson is on the left.
Photograph by Morgan Baillargeon, 1996, CMC K96-1167

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Introduction | Early Ranching | Ranching Life | Contemporary Ranching Life | Community Stories | Transition to Rodeo