Kahkewistahaw First Nation recently honoured their former Chief Louis Taypotat with a celebration of his service as their community leader for 39 years. This summer the community held an honouring for his retirement at their annual rodeo event and the family made a Break Away Ropers special with a saddle as the trophy with the inscription ‘In Honour of Chief Louis Taypotat Retirement’ on the saddle. The Taypotat family made a rodeo special for the former chief in conjunction with a community barbeque and a dance which featured country singer Armond Duck Chief from Siksika, Alberta.
“It really warmed out hearts that we had so many people come together to celebrate with us,” said Lois “Chooch” Taypotat, daughter of the retired chief. “We are quite honoured that the current Chief and Council wanted to honour our dad that way. It really [brought] everybody together…our community is moving forward and that is what [our dad] wants to see.”
Louis Earl Taypotat’s traditional name is ‘man who stands strong’. He recently turned 79 on September 26th. He was born to Allan and Emily Rose Taypotat. He has one brother named Joseph Tayptotat who is older by five years. He’s been married to his wife for 57 years with a total of ten children. They have 14 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Lois said her family shares their dad with many people as he adopted many people throughout his life.
In the early 60s, Louis worked for Agricultural Canada which was the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA) back then. That’s when he began roping and treating cattle – it was also when he started competing in rodeo. In 1981, he became the Manitoba Rodeo Cowboys Association Calf Roping Champion and was given a calf roping trophy saddle for that achievement. In 1987, he founded the Prairie Indian Rodeo Association and founded the International Indian Finals Rodeo (IIFR) in 2004 with the first IIFR being held in North Battleford a year later. Afterwards, he became the senior advisor for both associations promoting the rodeo to Indigenous athletes.
Under Louis leadership along with his councillors over the years, they were responsible for the construction of the Kahkewistahaw Petro Canada convenience store located in Yorkton on their reserve land. Louis was very instrumental in the successful negotiation agreement between his community and the federal government on a $94.6 million settlement for the reserve’s 1907 specific land claim to the First Nation which is held in trust fund to support economic development, land purchases and community infrastructure. Taypotat was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 and the Saskatchewan Centennial medal in 2005.
Today Taypotat still ranches, bales and runs a tractor. He won’t ride horses as much as he used to but he will swing the rope and be out there watching and supporting his family at events.