Indigenous Communities in & around Calgary
There are four Blackfoot Nations, together, they form the Blackfoot Confederacy. They are the Aapátohsipikáni (Aa-pa-doh-see-pee-gun-ee), or the “Northern” Piikani, or just “Piikani;” the Amaskaapo Piikani (Aa-mas-ska-po Pee-gun-ee) or the “Southern” Piikani; the Kainai (Gain-aa) or the “many-Chiefs” and the Siksika, or the “Blackfoot.” The Southern Piikani are located across the Canada-USA border in Browning, Montana. Traditional territory is quite large, and, in most cases, all the Nations lived on both sides of the 49th parallel.
- Northern Piikani
- Southern Piikani
Métis people have a long and interesting history in Canada. Understanding that history is key to working with the Métis community effectively and working towards reconciliation.
Beginning in the mid-1600s, European fur traders began to have children with Indigenous women, primarily Cree, and a new Indigenous identity came to be called Métis. The word Métis comes from the Latin “miscere,” meaning “to mix.” The Métis identity developed its own distinctive culture that was a blend of Indigenous and European influences, including a language called Michif.
Métis people have always had mixed traditions and knew both European and Indigenous languages, so they also became the logical bridge between the settlers and Indigenous communities. This was especially important for the fur trade. Because of the trade, Métis communities settled and grew in areas that were strategic to the trade in western Canada. The Métis worked as guides and interpreters for European settlers, and operated forts and trading companies in the west.
The Métis were once known as “Canada’s forgotten people,” since they were excluded from treaties and not recognized as their own separate culture, even though they were the second largest group of Indigenous people in Canada. On April 16, 2016, the Daniels decision came down from the Supreme Court of Canada declaring all Métis people are now under the federal government’s jurisdiction. The decision means the federal government now has a fiduciary duty to Métis people, as well as a duty to negotiate with Métis people. The Daniels decision does not require the federal government to provide programs and services, but the government can no longer deny services to Métis people. Another significant date is June 27, 2019, when the Métis Nation of Alberta signed the first ever self-government agreement between the Government of Canada and a Métis government.
The Stoney Nakoda Nations are traditionally known as the “people of the mountains,” which in their Nakoda language is Iyarhe Nakoda (ee-YAR-hee NAH-coda). They are Nakoda and part of the Siouan language family; they are cousins to the Lakota, or Teton Sioux tribes, and their name before Treaty 7 was Îethka Nakoda Wîcastabi (Ee-Ithka Nakoda Wee-chi-staw-bee), meaning “the people that speak the Stoney language.”
According to oral tradition, the Tsuut’ina are part of the Dene people, who migrated up and down North and South America, living in or next to mountain ranges. As other nations moved north, the Tsuut’ina people migrated south into this area, near the Elbow River. The Tsuut’ina Nation has maintained close connections with the Blackfoot Nations, and Stoney Nakoda since arriving, but have kept their Athabaskan language known as Tsuut’ina.
In the 2016 census, 35,195 people in Calgary identified as Indigenous, making up 2.9 per cent of the population. They or earlier generations came to call Calgary home after they left their communities. Indigenous people living in Calgary are from First Nations across Canada. There are people from Nations in every province and territory – from the Inuit in Nunavut, to Tlignit in northern British Columbia, Cree from Saskatchewan, Mohawks in Ontario, Mi’kmaq in the Maritimes and every nation in between.