I wanted to mention that while eating lots of food and staying warm this holiday season that Chief Teresa Spence of Attawapiskat is entering her 3rd week of hunger striking. She has been eating no solid food, and drinking only tea and fish broth since Dec 11. Her strike is in protest of omnibus bill c-45 that passed in Parliament before Christmas this year. Amongst many many other elements of this massive bill, indigenous treaty land has become easier to sell and environmental protections have been removed from millions of Canada waterways. I plan on writing a long post about this over at Department of Analysis but for now I wanted to mention this and to remind people to keep Chief Spence in your thoughts, read up on the Idle No More movement that her strike (amongst other things) has sparked, and be aware of how the Canadian government is pushing through new legislation without proper consultation with affected communities.
While reading this and watching the movement spread and fight the apathy/news exhaustion that the end of every year brings. I am reminded that I know very very little about the peoples who’s land I grew up on. This inspired me to do some research this holiday season.
So, following is a very brief overview of the nations whose land Calgary sits on. I mostly got my info from wikipedia (I know, I know) pages on the Blackfoot Confederacy, Nakoda (Stoney) Nation, Treaty 7, Siksika Nation, Northern Peigan, Kainai Nation, Sarcee People, Nakota and a city of Calgary page. The info is by no means complete and I have a lot more to learn but here’s my beginning at an attempt to educate myself.
The area where Calgary sits is known as ‘Moll-inistsis-in-aka-apewis‘ in Blackfoot, and literally means “elbow”, or where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet and form an ‘L’. The city falls on land governed under a hunting and land rights treaty called Treaty 7. This treaty was signed by 7 nations, 4 from the Niitsítapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) and 3 Nakoda nations. It was signed September 22, 1877, at Blackfoot Crossing (a historically very significant place for the Siksika) by a representative of Queen Victoria and the majority of the chiefs from these nations, including Chief Crowfoot (though there was another signing December 4, 1877 for leaders that couldn’t be at the first signing. Blackfoot crossing is about 100km from Calgary and is now on the site of Siksika Nation reserve.
The 7 nations that signed the Treaty 7 were:
From the Niitsítapi (meaning “original people”)– Blackfoot Confederacy in English
- Siksiká Nation (Seeg-see-kah)
Approx. 90km East of Calgary, known as either Blackfoot or Siksika by colonizers. Blackfoot is a direct translation of the name Siksika, sik = black and iká = foot. Chief Crowfoot was Chief of the Siksiká at the time of the signing of Treaty 7.
- Piikáni Nation (Pee-kah-nee), also known as Aapátohsipikáni
Approx. 200km South of Calgary near Pincher Creek, AB. Also known as Peigan (Peh-gan). The Piikáni is divided into two nations, the Northern Piikáni and Southern Piikáni (Aamsskáápipikani) with the Southern peoples living in Montana. The Southern Piikáni is the only nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy that lives in the US.
- Káína Nation (G-ai-nah)
Approx. 200km South East of Calgary, near Lethbridge, AB. Káína translates to ‘Many Chief People’. Known as the Blood Nation by colonizers though this comes from a name given to the Káína by enemy Plains Cree people meaning “stained with blood” (Miko-Ew), ie: bloodthirsty or cruel. The Káína reserve is the largest in Canada and the second most populated.
- Tsuu T’ina Nation (Soot-tenna)
Borders South West Calgary. Formerly known as the Sarcee, which is thought to be a Blackfoot name meaning ‘stubborn ones’. Tsuu T’ina means “a great number of people”. The Tsuu T’ina reserve is adjacent to the southwest Calgary at its eastern boundary and goes to Bragg Creek to the west, to the north it ends at Alberta Highway 8, and to the South at Calgary’s 146 Ave SW. The Tsuu T’ina were once a part of the Danezaa Nation to the north but they migrated south in the 1770’s (according to the Wikipedia page) and joined the Niitsítapi.
From the Nakhóda Nations
The 3 bands that make up the Alberta Treat 7 nations from the Nakhóda are the Bearspaw, Chiniki (Chin-ick-ee) and Wesley (also known as Morley or Nakoda).
Nakhóda means ‘friend, ally’, though they are still known today by the name Stoney. Stoney is a name given to by colonizers coming from the way that the peoples would use fire heated rocks to cook.
The Nakhóda reserve lands are located along the Bow River between the Kananaskis River and the Ghost River, approx. 60km North East of Calgary going towards Banff. These are known as the Big Horn, Stoney and EdenValley reserves and are shared between the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley bands.
I’m trying to do some simple web research so I’m not going to get too much into it because I don’t want to fuck it up/misrepresent the Nakhóda peoples but as far as I can tell the Nakhóda are related to the Lakota and Dakota peoples of the US, though most closely to the Nakhóta (Assiniboine) in the US. The Nakhóda claim Sioux ancestry, and their language is a dialect associated with Sioux. That’s about all I feel comfortable saying without getting into extreme history that I can’t verify.
Still with me? I know that there’s a lot more to be said about this land and the peoples’ to who it belongs. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the history of this land, its peoples and colonization, let alone where the peoples are today. I feel like there is so much more to be said than where the reserve lands are and who signed the treaty but that’s the best I think I can do right now. Maybe I’ll do more research every time I come back and add to it. In the meantime I would just like to say that I acknowledge and thank the peoples’ who have allowed me to grow up on their territory, the Siksika, Piikani, Kainaa, Tsuu T’ina and Nakoda peoples.
I intend to do this when I go to Regina tomorrow as well since I spent the first half of my life there and know equally as little about that land, so watch for that in the next week or so. Maybe I’ll do the some better research about Montreal, I know that it is Mohawk, Six Nation territory but I can definitely know more.
I know this isn’t the usual crafts or rants I post, and believe me there will be more of that as well, but this is a personal blog and I find this way more important.