In my last column, I indicated that I would discuss the peace covenant between the Sioux Nation and the Blackfoot Confederacy. However, I was not able to obtain adequate information on this. Therefore, I will discuss a Stoney Nakoda perspective.
The historical relationship between the Stoney Nakoda and Blackfoot people was that of enemies. The Sioux, which the Stoney Nakoda are a part of, were known for their tenacity in battle. The Blackfoot were also highly regarded warriors.
The Sioux and Blackfoot migrated west from what is now the Great Lakes region. This migration occurred at different times, after Christopher Columbus was discovered hopelessly lost. Columbus as many know was on his way to India. Hence, the term Indians.
Historic battles between the Blackfoot and Sioux did occur, as they did between most tribes. However, there were also allegiances. The Blackfoot for example, allied with the Cree and Stoney Nakoda to expel the Shoshone and Kootenai.
Hostilities existed between the Blackfoot and Stoney Nakoda as they moved west, acquiring new territories. In fact, the Stoney Nakoda refer to the Blackfoot as “toga” or enemy. Similarly, the Tsuut’ina are referred to as “châ toga” or enemy that lives in the brushes. The Tsuut’ina were allies of the Blackfoot.
The Stoney Tribe signed Treaty Seven, also known as the Blackfeet Treaty, with the Blackfoot and Tsuut’ina. Treaty Six would have been more appropriate because Stoney Nakoda were allies of the Cree. In fact, two Stoney Nakoda bands, Alexis First Nation and Paul Band, signed Treaty Six.
Acquisition of new territories resulted in various battles. In one battle between the Blackfoot and the Stoney Nakoda, which occurred in what is now the Cochrane area, the Stoney Nakoda were the victors. Oral and recorded history informs us that there was a war over this territory in which the Blackfoot lost. Therefore, it is conceivable that the Stoney Nakoda won the right to occupy this region.
However, there is a tendency to overlook the Stoney Nakoda, Tsuut’ina, and the Metis when acknowledging traditional territories. Post-secondary institutions such as the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University are Blackfoot-centric in their acknowledgement of First Nations people.
As a Stoney-Nakoda person, I am perturbed each time I hear people refer to Calgary as the traditional territory of the Blackfoot people. Their statements ignore First Nations history and indeed the proud history of the Sioux people.
It is not my intent to disparage the Blackfoot people because they too have a proud history as a warrior society. However, the Stoney Nakoda perspective has to be taken into account when acknowledging traditional territories.
The Sioux, like the Cree, were a powerful presence in the prairies. Indeed, the Sioux were the last obstacle to settler expansion and have also come to represent “Indian” people. The Sioux headdress for example, as well the Sioux teepee (tibi) are symbolic of all First Nations people.
I would encourage those so inclined to consider all perspectives when referring to traditional territories in this region.