The Battle of Little Big Puck: Narratives of Community, Sport, and Relationships in Rural Canada

Kyle Andrew Rich, Larena Hoeber, Anne Weisgerber


The Battle of Little Big Puck is an annual event hosted in Maple Creek that challenges the way we think about how sport, history, heritage, and community intersect and play out in rural Canada. The event pits ‘Cowboys against the Indians ’in a hockey game and symbolic performance of identity, culture, and community. For
this paper, we used a participatory methodology to co-construct narratives of the event in order to explore how it is understood and communicated in and for the community. We drew from interviews, public accounts, and observations to discuss two components of the larger narrative of this event. We discuss a historical narrative of contact and collaboration between Nekaneet First Nation and local rodeo cowboys and a contemporary narrative of urban-rural difference and misunderstanding, which provides a platform for community culture, specifically the expression of ‘the way we do things out here. ’Collectively, these narratives provide insights into
local understandings of settler-Indigenous relations in one region of rural Saskatchewan and speak to the potential of sport and recreation as sites for contact, interaction, and the expression of distinct and collective aspects of culture and community
in rural areas.

Keywords: Sport and recreation, events, narrative, settler-Indigenous relations, place

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.