Fred Sasakamoose

  (Redirected from Fred Saskamoose)

Frederick "Fred" Sasakamoose, CM (December 25, 1933 – November 24, 2020) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He was one of the first Canadian Indigenous players in the National Hockey League,[3][4] and the first First Nations player with treaty status.[5] He played 11 games with the Chicago Black Hawks during the 1953–54 season; the rest of his career, which lasted from 1953 to 1960, was spent in various minor leagues. After his playing career, Sasakamoose became involved in Indigenous affairs, and served as chief of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation for a period. He was later recognized for his work, including being named a member of the Order of Canada.

Fred Sasakamoose
"Running Deer"[1]
Born (1933-12-25)December 25, 1933
Debden, Saskatchewan, Canada[2]
Died November 24, 2020(2020-11-24) (aged 86)
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada
Height 5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Right
Played for Chicago Black Hawks
Playing career 1953–1960

Early lifeEdit

Sasakamoose was of Cree descent.[6] He was born in Debden, Saskatchewan and grew up on the Ahtahkakoop Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan and learned to play ice hockey at an Indian residential school in Duck Lake, Saskatchewan. He was one of 11 children, of whom six died in childhood from smallpox.[7][2] When he was six years old, Canadian authorities forced Saskamoose and his brother into a truck, under the pretenses of providing them with a better education. [8]

Hockey careerEdit

In 1944 Sasakamoose joined the Duck Lake ice hockey team.[9] Sasakamoose's skills were first recognized by a priest in Montreal who became the sports director at the Indian residential school Sasakamoose was attending. The priest pushed Sasakamoose to improve himself, and he went on to develop an extraordinary left-handed shot as a result.[6] Sasakamoose had a troubled time at the school: when he was nine he was raped by fellow students, and detailed other punishments by the school officials.[10] While Sasakamoose became one of the star players on the school's team, he left Duck Lake at the age of 15 and so feared returning to the school that he didn't believe at first when a priest had a hockey scout visit his home.[11]

Ultimately Sasakamoose did meet the scout, and at the age of 16 joined the junior Moose Jaw Canucks, who played in the Western Canada Junior Hockey League.[9] After scoring 31 goals during the 1953–54 season he was named the league's most valuable player.[6] During the season he made his NHL debut with the Chicago Black Hawks, playing November 20, 1953 against the Boston Bruins. Sasakamoose played two games with Chicago at the time before being sent back to junior, though he was called up again a few months later after Moose Jaw's season ended in February 1954.[12] Sasakamoose played 11 games for the Black Hawks that season, recording no points. The rest of his career was spent in various minor leagues.[12]

Post-hockey lifeEdit

After retiring from ice hockey, Sasakamoose became a band councilor of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, serving for 35 years, and spent one term (6 years) as Chief.[13] He was also extensively involved in the development of sports programs for Indigenous children.[12] Starting in 1961, he used his fame to promote opportunities for youth in sports which included ice hockey, long-distance running, track and field, soccer, and basketball.[6] In 2002, he was honoured by the Blackhawks at a home game.[12] He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in the builders category in 2007.[14][15] He was also inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame, Meadow Lake Wall of Fame, FSIN Circle of Honour, and the Canadian Native Hockey Hall of Fame.[16] He was acknowledged for achievements and contributions by both the Assembly of First Nations and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN).[6] He was also a founding member of the Northern Indian Hockey League. He became a member of the Order of Canada in 2018.[17]


Sasakamoose was admitted to hospital in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where he was diagnosed with COVID-19 on November 20, 2020. He died four days later due to complications from the virus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saskatchewan.[18][19] He was buried at the Ahtahkakoop First Nation Cemetery in Ahtakhakoop, Saskatchewan.[20]

He married Loretta Isbister in 1955, and had nine children.[13] At the time of his death, Sasakamoose's memoir, Call Me Indian, was being finished, and had a scheduled release date of April 6, 2021.[9]

Career statisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit


Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1950–51 Moose Jaw Canucks WCJHL 18 7 7 14 9
1951–52 Moose Jaw Canucks WCJHL 42 19 22 41 59
1952–53 Moose Jaw Canucks WJHL 36 18 17 35 40 9 7 5 12 4
1953–54 Moose Jaw Canucks WJHL 34 31 26 57 56 5 4 2 6 8
1953–54 Chicago Black Hawks NHL 11 0 0 0 6
1954–55 New Westminster Royals WHL 21 3 8 11 6
1954–55 Chicoutimi Sagueneens QHL 22 4 4 8 2 6 2 1 3 2
1955–56 Calgary Stampeders WHL 2 0 0 0 2
1956–57 Kamloops Chiefs OSHL 23 7 10 17 36
1957–58 Kamloops Chiefs OSHL 51 26 27 53 63 15 7 6 13 34
1958–59 Kamloops Chiefs OSHL 20 10 20 30 42 5 0 0 0 0
1960–61 North Battleford Beavers SIHA
NHL totals 11 0 0 0 6


  1. ^ Drum, First Nations (March 15, 2017). "Fred Sasakamoose, the First Indian NHL Hockey Player". First Nations Drum Newspaper. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Fred Sasakamoose, one of first Indigenous players in NHL and former Moose Jaw Canuck, dies at age 86" – via Moose Jaw Today.
  3. ^ Smith, Stephen (June 25, 2020). "Recasting the History of Pro Hockey's Indigenous Players". The New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ "Fred Sasakamoose was native NHL pioneer". Edmonton Sun.
  5. ^ "Sorry Fred, but Henry came first - A few facts regarding aboriginal hockey players". Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e Brissenden, Constance. "Fred Sasakamoose". The Canadian Encyclopedia.
  7. ^ "Fred Sasakamoose: Survivor, trailblazer, leader, hero" – via The Globe and Mail.
  8. ^ "The Story Of Fred Sasakamoose, An Indigenous Hockey Pioneer". Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Klinkberg, Marty (November 24, 2020). "Fred Sasakamoose, the NHL's first Indigenous player and a residential school survivor, dies". Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "Ex-NHLer describes rape at residential school". February 3, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015). The Survivors Speak: A Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (PDF). p. 193. ISBN 978-0-660-01985-7.
  12. ^ a b c d Douglas, William (November 24, 2020). "Sasakamoose, Indigenous NHL pioneer, dies at 86". Retrieved November 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ a b Adam, Betty Ann (January 7, 2017). "Fred Sasakamoose blazed a trail for indigenous hockey players". Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: The StarPhoenix. Retrieved November 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ "Inductee Directory". Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  15. ^ "Indigenous athletes inducted into SK Sports Hall of Fame". Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  16. ^ "Frederick "Fred" Sasakamoose". Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  17. ^ "Order of Canada member Sasakamoose continues to push for opportunities for Indigenous youth". Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  18. ^ Peterson, Julia (November 24, 2020). "Indigenous NHL pioneer Fred Sasakamoose dead at 86". Retrieved November 24, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Charlton, Jonathan (November 24, 2020). "Fred Sasakamoose, one of NHL's first Indigenous players, dies after COVID-19 diagnosis". Retrieved November 25, 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ "Frederick "Fred" Sasakamoose (1933-2020) - Find A..." Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  21. ^ "Frank Sasakamoose". Hockey Reference. Retrieved November 26, 2020.

External linksEdit