Sam Crowe


Crow-slayer was born on a small Chippewa reservation to a poor family in 1910. The shores of Hudson Bay were a harsh place to grow up most of the year. Inclement weather, bitter cold winters, and poor housing led to food shortages and sickness in the village during the colder months. Crow-slayer spent most of his young childhood at the side of his father and grandfather, both village elders. He was present for ceremonies, dances, and debates. He gained an appreciation for his culture and history that was lacking in many at that time. When not at the counsel lodge, Crow-slayer explored the vast forests that surrounded his village, fished in the lakes and streams, and hunted in the fashion of his ancestors; with bow and arrow. It wasn’t an easy life, but it was a rich one.

In 1922, the provincial government decided to expand its program of Indian Schools, institutions created to assimilate young Natives into White society, whether they wanted to or not. The twelve year old Crow-slayer and the majority of school aged males on the reservation were “collected” by government officials and taken to their new home. As one of the older boys and on already so indoctrinated into his own culture, Crow-slayer resisted any and all attempts to Anglicize him. They cut his hair, dressed him in stiff uncomfortable clothes, barred him from singing his songs, and took away his name. They called him Samuel Crow. Often as punishment, Samuel was locked in a cell or straightjacket. He would fight to free himself, sometimes for hours, often at a physical cost to himself. Eventually, Sam was able to form a relationship with one of his teachers, an Englishman named Phineas Brown. Brown taught art and music. He had a vast knowledge of the humanities. He had published many books on the subject, which Sam read almost continually. The two bonded over their love and respect of different cultures.

Sam truly need a friend for what came next.

News arrived at the Indian School in 1925 that there had been an outbreak of Spanish Flu in their village. Both of Sam’s parents had died. Desperately wanting to return home, Sam led a group of boys in an escape attempt only to be caught mere hours later never having reached the village. As punishment, Sam was locked in a cell for a week with only bread and water. It was at this point that Sam realized the futlity of overt resistance. He emerged from solitary confinement a different young man. He was determined to escape the bonds of White society. He saw that it was heavy and stiff like a dead oak. And like that tree, it would eventually topple over, he just had to wait it out. His grades improved and punishments lessened. If the Whites were going to give him an education and a warm place to sleep, he would take it and when the time was right, shoved it down their throats.

Freedom came sooner than Sam expected. Phineas Brown was leaving the Indian School and had decided to take Sam with him, seeing the potential in the the young Native. Sam eagerly agreed and Brown made arrangements for the two to leave for London. Before they could leave, word of the passing of Sam’s grandfather arrived. Sam and Brown traveled back to the nearly deserted village where Sam collected some family heirlooms; jewelry, pictures, his bow and two tomahawks, one his father’s and one his grandfather’s

Sam and Brown left the village that night bond for Montreal by train. From Montreal, the pair took a zepplin to London. Upon their arrival, Brown was met by a group of serious looking men. They spoke for a while outside of Sam’s earshot, then went their separate ways. Days later, Brown enrolled Sam in Oxford. The college experience was a difficult one for Sam. He experienced racism and classism. He was pranked by other students. It was a challenge to make friends, until he discovered activities that played to his strengths, archery and rowing. These extracurriculars gave Sam an outlet for any anger and resentment he was feeling toward other students and provided an atmosphere where he could make friends. His life almost became tranquil at that point. During school he was busy immersed in his studies and athletics. Breaks were really the time his lived for, prepared for. Brown would take Sam on archeological expeditions to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. Sam honed his skills in the field. He was able to blend his academia with real world practical experiences. Upon graduation from Oxford, Sam was recruited by the Royal Academy of Archeological Sciences to continue what he had been doing with Brown. Little did Sam realize the Royal Academy’s or Brown relationship with British Intelligence and the American War Department.

Sam Crowe

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