In the old days, we had Cree names for most of the places in our territory.
We have inhabited this land for a long time.
The Caraconte name is a significant one in the Grande Cache area. Over the years, the spelling and pronunciation have changed from Karquienthe to Karyinter to Kwarakwante to Karakonti to Caraconte to Karakuntie. Even the famous Calahoo clan from near Edmonton was originally named Kwarakwante.
The history of the Caraconte family is somewhat convoluted. We know that the Caraconte name is linked to the Caugnawaga Reserve near Montreal. The Caraconte ancestry is definitely Iroquois. Louis Karquienthe (sometimes called Kwarakwante or Karihoo, which became Calihoo) is credited as being one of the patriarchs of the Caraconte family in Alberta. He came west to work for the North West Company about 1800. There was an Ignace Karakwante, who was either his brother or his cousin, who came to Alberta to trap about the same time. He married Anna La Sekannaise, who was born in 1876. There was also a Dominick Karyinter (Caraconte) who worked for the NWC and arrived at Jasper in 1814. He was the only Iroquois from his group that set out from Montreal to survive the difficult trip to the west. Apparently, he had fought for the British against the Americans in the War of 1812. According to H. J. Moberly, he was still active in the Jasper area in 1855.
The Karakuntie family of Grande Cache is descended from Louis Karihoo, although Louis is sometimes referred to as Kwarakwante, Karaquienthe or Caraquanti. The name Karihoo translates as “tall forest”. The various spellings probably result from the fact that few people could read and write in those days, so when it was necessary to write a name for fur trade records or for church records, the writer would spell the name phonetically. This problem would be compounded by regional accents.
Louis Callihoo was called “le voyageur de soleil” in French, which translates to the “Sun Traveller” in English. He was born at Ganawake near Montreal on October 13, 1782. Louis was a Mohawk, so he was Iroquois. He spoke both French and Mohawk. On November 23, 1800, he was hired by the NWC (the North West Company) to be a voyageur (i.e. a canoeman). This was the beginning of his journey to the west. There is some evidence that he came west with Ignace Wayande and Ignace Kwarakwante. The latter was his brother or his cousin.
From 1805 to 1811, Louis was associated with Jasper House in what is now Jasper National Park. While there, he met Marie Katis, a Sekani woman. They became husband and wife, but were not officially married until October 16, 1853, when Marie was sixty years old. They were married by Father Lacombe in Jasper. This marriage took place in 1853 because Father Lacombe happened to be in Jasper at that time, so he performed a number of marriages and baptisms. Louis and Marie may have had older children, but the first that we know of was named Thomas, who was born about 1815. Another son was named Louis Dekara, who went by Karakonti as well as Tekarra and Carpontier. He married Marguerite Cardinal in Jasper in 1853 on the same day as his parents were officially wed.
By 1814, Louis was a freeman, as he had completed his contract with the fur trade company. Louis decided to stay in the west instead of returning to Montreal as many of the other Iroquois did. As a freeman, he was not associated with a fur trade company, so he could trade his furs where he wanted to get the best price. By 1825, Louis had a camp at the forks of the Smoky River (this may be the spot near Grande Cache where Sheep Creek enters the Smoky, as there is no real fork in the Smoky). He settled there because of the good pasture, the abundance of wild fruit, the fertile soil for growing potatoes, turnips and barley and because of the abundance of game, in particular elk and bison.
Louis spent part of the year on the Smoky with Marie Katis, but he also spent part of the year at Lesser Slave Lake with his other wives. We know that he had at least two children with Josephte Patenaude and seven children with her sister, Marie Patenaude. Apparently, Louis and the two sisters all lived in one large house. At this time, Louis made a living from hunting, trapping and freighting.
By 1854, the Sun Traveller was dead at the age of seventy-two. There is some evidence to indicate that he died in what is now Willmore Wilderness Park. In her book, Elizabeth MacPherson stated that he is buried at “Little Graves”, but this is very unlikely, as most people agree that “Little Graves” contains the body of a small child. Joe Karakuntie of Grande Cache indicated that he had heard that the grave of Louis Karakonti was in the next meadow over from “Big Graves”. This site is not far from “Little Graves”.
In 1910, some of the Caraconte family was living at Rock Lake. Other members of the Caraconte family lived on the Smoky where Sheep Creek flows into it. This branch of the family moved to the Kakwa-Nose Creek area about 1947. The Kakwa Valley, is located about 100 kilometers north of Grande Cache.
There was a Solomon Caraconte living at Solomon Creek near Brule by 1929. This creek, as well as the nearby mountain are named in his honour. We are not sure when the Solomon Caraconte who is buried near Brule was born, but we know that his parents were Catherine Joachim, who was born in 1847 and Simon Caraconte, who was born in 1842. Simon and Catherine were married in 1864. Solomon had two brothers; David born in 1873 and Louis born in 1879. He also had three sisters; Pegg born in 1882, Marie who was born in 1876 and died in 1890 and Isabelle. The Brule Solomon Caraconte is legendary for the manner of his death, which may have been in the mid 1930’s. Apparently, he was riding his horse down Solomon Creek in a storm, when a branch broke off a tree and hit him in the head, killing him. This is the Solomon who is buried at the base of Mount Solomon near the Black Cat Ranch near Brule.
There was another Solomon, who is buried at Sheep Creek. He is buried in a graveyard between the road and the Smoky River, near the railroad tracks that was washed out in a flood. This Solomon lived at Sheep Creek and had a brother named David, who lived at Wanyandie Flats. David had four sons; Solomon, Louis, Joe and Isadore. David’s grandson, Joe, currently lives at Grande Cache Lake. The Sheep Creek Solomon and his wife had three sons; Albert, Pete and Dan who eventually moved on to Nose Creek. They also had a daughter. This Solomon was a trapper, who had lots of horses and some cattle. When he was in residence at Sheep Creek, there were about five families living there. His wife, who died in 1947, is buried in the Kakwa Valley. It was one of his cabins at Sheep Creek that became a trading post/store run by Sam and Betty Unruh for Fletcher Smith of Hinton Trail from 1934 to 1941.
The Karakonte name lives on in the Grande Cache area, as there is a Caraconte Creek near Grande Cache as well as a Solomon Creek and Mount Solomon near Brule.