A host of Alberta towns and natural features have long borne names reflecting the province’s First Nations heritage. These are just a few.
Nihahi Ridge: The name of the mountain 80 km west of Calgary in the Front range of the rockies means rocky in the stoney language. The 2,545-m edifice is marked by a popular hiking trail that affords spectacular views of Kananaskis Country.
Medicine Hat: The city of 63,000 people 295 km southeast of Calgary is alberta’s sixth-largest city.
Its name is derived from the blackfoot word saamis, which means an eagle tail feather headdress worn by medicine men. one legend tells of a retreating Cree losing his headdress in the south saskatchewan river during a battle with blackfoot warriors.
Okotoks: The town’s name means big rock in the blackfoot tongue. It salutes the 16,500-tonne quartzite glacial erratic that sits west of the town of about 30,000 people located 18 km south of Calgary. a popular Calgary producer of beer, big rock brewery, also takes its name from the split erratic that was transported from the rockies by ice sheets more than 10,000 years ago.
Wetaskiwin: The name of the town of about 13,000 people 250 km north of
Calgary translates to place of peace or hill of peace in the
Cree language. It symbolizes the peace made between the Cree and blackfoot around
1867 when the two nations threatened to act out hostilities. but their chiefs decided to turn instead to harmony.
Ponoka: Its name means elk in Cree. The town of about 7,000 people 200 kilometres northeast of Calgary was once known simply as siding 14 when the CPr arrived in the area in 1914. but that changed when a CPr employee wrote the name Ponoka on a sign there.