The Stoney Nakoda Nation is welcomed back to Banff National Park
Historic signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Parks Canada sets tone for future dialogue
Morley and Banff, Alberta -- For centuries, the Rocky Mountains located in Banff National Park formed a rich tapestry in the cultural history of the Stoney Nakoda Sioux First Peoples. On November 25, 2010, that history was acknowledged at the signing of an historic Memorandum of Understanding with the Banff National Park Agency at the Banff Centre.
The MOU is the first of its kind between a First Nation and a federal Parks agency and sets out a working relationship between the Banff National Park and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation to “welcome back” the Stoney Nakoda people on the anniversary of the Park’s 125th year of operation.
Stoney Elders like Wallace Snow recall the Park as a source of “medicines, ceremonial places and good hunting.” Indeed, the Stoney Nakoda people were always regarded as experts of the Park, working in the early part of the 1900s as guides and outbackers when the Park first caught the interest of European alpinists and site-seers.
In recent decades, commercial and resort development have utilized the recreational interests of the Park, but have failed to address the long-term sustainability of the Park’s ecosystems. The Stoney Chiefs through this MOU hope to bring back the Indigenous philosophies and perspectives to enhance and protect the Park for future generations.
“We are excited to be invited back after all this time, and we hope this opens up new opportunities for dialogue,” says Chief David Bearspaw of the Bearspaw First Nation.
“Our people have suffered because we have been denied access to the Park for most of the 20th Century. We welcome the opportunity to be part of this area once again,” notes Chief Bruce Labelle of the Chiniki First Nation.
“We are now looking to the future, and we hope we can make the Banff National Park a central part of our culture once again,” adds Chief Clifford Poucette of the Wesley First Nation. About Stoney Nakoda Nation
The Stoney Nakoda Nation or Tribe is made up of the Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley First Nations. Each of our First Nations was represented at the Treaty No. 7 negotiations with the British Crown in 1877. Most of the approximately 4,000 Stoney Nakoda Nation members live on our Reserves in southwestern Alberta, at Morley, Rabbit Lake, Eden Valley and Big Horn. The largest group of Stoney Nakoda Nation members lives at Morley, which is located on the Bow River between Calgary and Banff. The Stoney Tribal Administration is also located at Morley. The Rabbit Lake Reserve is nearby, to the northwest of Morley. The Eden Valley Reserve lies some 100 kilometres to the south, near Longview. The Big Horn Reserve is located approximately 100 kilometres north of Morley, not far from Nordegg, on the Big Horn and North Saskatchewan Rivers.