Council Stones & Sitting Eagle
The stones were given to Bill Moncur in 1944 by a local First Nations Chieftain, Sitting Eagle. Bill and Sitting Eagle had formed a friendship previous to the gifting of the stones so that Sitting Eagle knew of Bill’s dedication to learning about and preserving artefacts. All seven of the stones were gradually given to Bill over an extended period during which Sitting Eagle never fully explained his reasons for giving them to Bill instead of leaving them with his own people. Unfortunately Sitting Eagle passed away before he could tell Bill the true significance of the stones and how they were used or regarded specifically by his people, however Bill was given to understand that they held a great importance and needed to be preserved for future generations that could learn from them.
A broader story of the stones is outlined in “Turtle Mountain Tales: the Council Stones”. Before Bill Moncur passed away in 2001 an effort was made by the Moncur Gallery, and the Moncur family to discover more about the religious artefacts in the museum, including the Council Stones. During several interviews with Bill a more detailed description of his friendship with Sitting Eagle and the process by which the stones were given to Bill was learned. It was with great deliberation and discretion that Sitting Eagle and others within the First Nation community decided that Bill could be given the stones to safe guard.
Turtle Mountain Tales : The Council Stones
By James A.M. Ritchie
Moncur Gallery – Peoples of the Plains Inc.
(in cooperation with Boissevain Community Archives)
October 20, 2001
Ten thousand years ago Aboriginal hunters and toolmakers were already prowling the face of the retreating ice sheet around Turtle Mountain. Over the succeeding millennia trade grew and widened to produce a network of trails and highways. In the recent historical era, the “Mandan Trail” as it became known, was influenced by efforts among the First Nations at settling international disputes and encouraging trade. By 1800 AD these efforts were refined into the institution called by the Cree, “the Council of All Nations” and by the Dakota, “the Council of Seven Stones.”
Turtle Mountain Tales : The Council Stones was produced as a background report by the Moncur Gallery museum with the assistance of the Boissevain Community Archives. The report concentrates on the physical evidence of Aboriginal history in the Turtle Mountain region, both on the landscape and in museums. In over 300 pages with over 20 colour plates and nearly a hundred black-and-white illustrations, The Council Stones set outs the intricate and interwoven histories of the Algonquin, Siouan, Metis and finally European settlers.
Copies may be ordered directly from the Moncur Gallery – Peoples of the Plains Inc. for $110.00 plus $15.00 postage & handling, or in PDF format on CD for $25.00 plus $5.00 postage & handling.