Peguis was born in the 1770s near present-day Sault Ste. Marie. As a young man, he traveled west to Red River. He is perhaps best-known for his role in facilitating the 1817 Treaty between Lord Selkirk and the Cree and Saulteaux in the region. He was “short in stature, with a strong, well-knit frame, and the voice of an orator.” In his will he left “all the Medals and all the signs which distinguished me as a Chief of the Swampy and Saulteaux tribes” to his son:
Had I been unfaithful to my situation I would not think to leave such a thing to my son; but I can say with clear conscience that I have been faithful both to the Whites & the Indians…
When a tree grows be it ever so strong and large; it rots away gradually & down it goes at last, but through time another young tree shoots forth from there, & as it grows, it gathers beauty & strength. I compare myself of the former & that of the latter to my son… I hope a great many of the Canadian or English gentlemen will see this, & will try to help my son & advise him how to conduct himself through life. This paper I hope will be handed down through many generations in my family that all may know what life I have led.
Peguis passed away in 1864. The community he once led is now called Peguis First Nation.