What’s in a name?

Plenty for Al­berta First Na­tions seek­ing her­itage recog­ni­tion

The News (New Glasgow) - - NEWS - BY JOHN COT­TER

If a group of First Na­tions get their wish, Cal­gary will be re­named Wichispa Oyade – Stoney Nakoda terms that roughly trans­late to mean el­bow town.

The Stoney Nakoda have ap­plied to have a long list of well-known places across south­ern Al­berta changed to re­flect tra­di­tional names given by their peo­ple. Their ap­pli­ca­tion let­ter to the Al­berta gov­ern­ment also in­cludes Can­more, the Bow River, Mount Al­lan and dozens of other sites that they con­sider to be part of their ter­ri­tory.

“The Stoney Nakoda peo­ple are the orig­i­nal oc­cu­pants of the land and place names should be changed to their tra­di­tional Stoney Nakoda names in or­der to al­low the cul­ture and his­tory of these lands to be­come more known and re­spected,” reads the let­ter.

The First Na­tions ar­gue that the English or Cree names any of these places have fail to re­flect their spe­cific Indige­nous his­tory.

“This lack of recog­ni­tion con­trib­utes to an in­creas­ing threat that Stoney Nakoda her­itage will be over­run.”

The Stoney Na­tions, de­scen­dants of the Sioux, in­clude three bands with the largest re­serve lo­cated west of Cal­gary.

They have been su­ing the prov­ince and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment over their abo­rig­i­nal and treaty rights, in­clud­ing land and re­sources, in a com­plex case that was orig­i­nally filed in 2003. The claim cov­ers a big part of south­ern Al­berta and the eastern slopes of the Rocky Moun­tains.

Dou­glas Rae, a lawyer for the First Na­tions, said the name change ap­pli­ca­tion is not part of the law­suit, but an at­tempt by the bands to prove their ties to the land.

“The Stoneys are as­sert­ing their rights, and good ev­i­dence of these claims is to for­mally ask for recog­ni­tion of the Stoney Nakoda names,” Rae said.

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