You have all probably seen them – large blue heritage markers located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. Have you ever stopped to read one? At the end of April I was attending meetings in the Town of Pincher Creek and came across a heritage marker telling the story of Sergeant Wilde and Charcoal. I stopped, curious to learn about an aspect of Alberta’s history. With camera in hand, I decided to also produce an impromptu video blog post. Please watch and enjoy (but bare in mind that my videography skills require some fine tuning).
Heritage marker location: east side of Highway 6, four kilometers south of the Town of Pincher Creek.
Learn more about Alberta’s heritage in the Pincher Creek area: explore the Alberta Register of Historic Places…
- Doukhobor Prayer Home (Provincial Historic Resource)
- Drewry House (Provincial Historic Resource)
- DU Ranchlands Cabin (Municipal Historic Resource)
- Kenny Archaeological Site (Provincial Historic Resource)
- Massacre Butte (Provincial Historic Resource)
Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer
HERITAGE MARKER TEXT:
Sergeant Wilde and Charcoal
On September 30, 1896 a Blood Indian named Si’okskitsis, or Charcoal, killed his wife’s lover. Charcoal’s wife’s affair with her cousin, Medicine Pipe Stem, broke one of the most fundamental rules of Blood society. When they would not end their relationship, Charcoal felt he had no choice. Killing Medicine Pipe Stem made Charcoal a murderer in the eyes of the North West Mounted Police and the government, but it was not a simple crime of passion or revenge.
Convinced that he faced only execution if he surrendered, Charcoal became a fugitive. For weeks his thefts of food and horses and several armed confrontations terrorized southern Alberta from the Porcupine Hills to the U.S. border. Patrols of Mounted Police and Indian scouts tried in vain to find him. Finally, on November 10, 1896, a patrol led by Sergeant W.B. Wilde of the North West Mounted Police caught up with Charcoal in the foothills just south of Pincher Creek. Sergeant Wilde was undoubtedly a brave and capable police officer, but he probably did not understand just how desperate Charcoal had become. Threatened with arrest, Charcoal shot Wilde.
By the following day Charcoal was captured and behind bars. He was transported to Fort Macleod and put on trail for the murders of Medicine Pipe Stem and Sergeant Wilde. He was quickly convicted and executed at Fort Macleod on March 16, 1897. It was the last act in a tragic chain of events that pitted the traditional beliefs of First Nations against the new laws of Canada.