Who are the First Nations in Calgary?

The First Nations (also known as Aboriginal, or Indigenous) peoples of Canada include all groups of people who historically lived on the land before the arrival of Europeans. There are many different groups of First Nations people, each with their own values, beliefs, and customs.

Canada is home to 617 First Nations communities that are spread out across thousands of reservations. In Alberta, there are 45 communities.

Who are the First Nations in Calgary?

Who are the Indigenous People of Canada?

There are three different classifications of First Nations identity: First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. These different classifications are based on which parts of Canada the group traditionally lived in.

First Nations inhabited the land below the Arctic Circle, spreading from the Pacific Ocean all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

Inuit lived in the land on the coastal regions and in the far north of Canada.

Métis are the descendants of First Nations and European people.

What is a Reservation?

A reservation is protected land that is home to a First Nations community. Treaty 7 protects the lands of the communities in the Calgary area. The  Treaty was an agreement between First Nations and the Canadian government that gave the government ownership of the land. In return, the First Nations were free to use the land for hunting, trapping, and living, just as they traditionally had. In addition, the government would pay the First Nations communities for use of the land every year, either in money or supplies (e.g. farm animals).

The Niitsitapi, or Blackfoot, are the group of First Nations that traditionally live in the territory around Calgary. Their traditional territory spans from the East side of the Rocky Mountains into Saskatchewan, and goes North towards Edmonton and South into Montana. Today, the First Nations tribes that live within this Blackfoot territory share many of the same customs and traditions but may practice them in different ways.

There are three major First Nations communities in the Calgary area. They are the Tsuut’ina Nation, Stoney Nakoda Nation, and Siksika Nation.

The Tsuut’ina Nation is located southwest of Calgary. There are about 1,700 people living on the Tsuut’ina reservation. Although under Treaty 7 their land became the property of the government, the Government of Canada returned ownership of the land to the Tsuut’ina Nation in 2006.

The Stoney Nakoda Nation is located northwest of Calgary. It includes three smaller bands of First Nations: Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley. Roughly 3,700 people live on the three reserves within Stoney Nakoda Nation. The name “Nakoda” in their own language means “friend” or “ally”. Historically, the people of Stoney Nakoda have been called “Assiniboine”, meaning “stone people” or “people who cook with stones”.

Siksika Nation is located about one hour east of Calgary. Today, there are roughly 3,500 people living on the Siksika reserve. Translated into English, the name “Siksika” means “Blackfoot” (sik meaning “black”, ika meaning “foot”).

Looking for more information?

If you want to learn more about this topic, check out the following links.

Blackfoot Celebrations. https://blackfootcelebrations.weebly.com/index.html

The Glenbow Museum. The Story of the Blackfoot People. http://www.glenbow.org/blackfoot/EN/html/index.htm

Statistics Canada. http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/index-eng.cfm

Wikipedia. The Tsuut’ina Nation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsuu_T%27ina_Nation

The Siksika Nation. http://siksikanation.com/wp/about/

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Thanks to Alexandra Hutchinson for help with this guide. If you want to suggest a correction to this guide, or want to submit one of your own, please contact us.