Battle River Earns its Name:
One of the earliest recorded names in Alberta, the Battle River, according to Cree and Blackfoot Tradition, garnered its title for the conflicts that took place on its shores among First Nations peoples. The river bank's twists and turns were often literal battle grounds.
Camrose County hosted many connections between the northern Plains Cree, from the French "Cristaux" meaning "band south of James Bay", and the Blackfoot, denoted by the blackened moccasins of members who had trodden through ashes of prairie fires.
Camrose County falls on Treaty 6 land. Signed in 1876, Treaty Six is an agreement between the Canadian Monarch, and the Plains Cree, Assiniboines, which was signed at Fort Carlton and then at Fort Pitt. Not unlike the other numbered treaties of the west, Treaty 6 does hold two unique features. The "medicine chest" clause was asked for by Indigenous leaders, since by the time of signing, buffalo supplies were almost non-existent; the result of careless over hunting by non-native consumer driven endeavours. Native leaders had witnessed intense small pox epidemics around them, and were attempting to ensure the health of their peoples. The high stakes surrounded the signing of Treaty Six demands attention. Indigenous leaders like Mistahimaskwa, an Ojebwe- Cree leader, resisted being forced by the Canadian government onto such a small land base. Only after severe sanctions and the resulting starvation of their people, did the elders finally commit to the treaty. Go to www.treatysix.org for more information.
Pictured above, is a Blackfoot tribe member in the midst of a traditional dance. The Blackfoot Confederacy combines four tribes: the Blood, The Blackfoot, The Peigan, and the North Peigan Pikuni. Under Crowfoots leadership, the tribe was known for trying to avoid conflict with white expansionist wars, even though they too, paid a heavy price for such.
Maskwacis, (Bear Hills) formerly known as "Hobbema" after a Dutch painter, has been in existence since 1891, as the nexus of four Nations, the Sampson Cree Nation, the Ermineskin Cree Nation, the Louis Bull Tribe and the Montana Band. Go to http://samsoncree.com/name-change for more information on the official return to "Maskwacis".
Click on the photo below to read more on a photo contest that displays some of the beauty of Maskwacis, as captured by its local youth.
Cree Language Invitation:
Language itself is the guardian of identity, the keeper of treasures from the culture it fosters and represents. What better way to explore than to begin to play with another's language? Local elder and language specialist, Ida Bull is creating a transformational Cree Language App that can be down loaded here: Maskwacis Cree by Samson Cree Nation.
This tool holds easily accessible rhymes that bridge learners to new linguistic territory, along with an intriguing indigenous photographic history from the area. Enjoy!