NAME GAME

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - — BILL KAUF­MANN

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.

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