CREE FRED “CHIEF RUNNING DEER” SASAKAMOOSE BORN–POSSIBLY 1ST INDIGENOUS NHL PLAYER
Born on the Ahtahkakoop Indian Reserve, Saskatchewan (SK), Fred began playing ice hockey while at residential school in Duck Lake, SK. After being Most Valuable Player of the junior-level Western Canada Junior Hockey League playing for the Moose Jaw Canucks, Fred debuted in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Chicago Black Hawks on February 27, 1954. He is considered to be the 1st Indigenous NHL player, though some sources credit Henry “Buddy” Maracle in 1930. He only played with the Blackhawks for 11 games before returning to the minor leagues for the rest of his career. Retiring in 1961, Fred was chief of his band for 6 years and helped develop sports programs for indigenous children. Honors include: SK Sports, Prince Albert Sports, Meadow Lake & Canadian Native Hockey Halls of Fame; and Member, Order of Canada (2018). He has also been acknowledged for his achievements & contributions by the Assembly of First Nations and Federation of SK Indian Nations.
Sources: Marty Klinkenberg, "Fred Sasakamoose: Survivor, trailblazer, leader, hero" – via The Globe and Mail, 12/23/2016. Retrieved 9/13/2020, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/fred-sasakamoose/article33409416/ Terry Jones, "Fred Sasakamoose was native NHL pioneer," Edmonton Sun, 3/30/2014. Retrieved 9/13/2020, https://edmontonsun.com/2014/03/30/fred-sasakamoose-was-native-nhl-pioneer Photo: Government of Canada (Governor General), 2008. Permissive Use. Source: http://hockeygods.com/images/16815-Fred_Sasakamoose_received_Order_of_Canada_from_Governor_General_Julie_Payette