November 14, 2013

Bearspaw by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe




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12″ x 24″
Acrylic on Gallery Canvas
Shown in Federation of Canadian Artists exhibition Calgary Branch

It was a cool fall evening and the rolling foothills of the Rockies were still an enigma to me. I was still learning the names of plants like silverberry (also known as wolf willow), which were used by the Blackfoot. Its shades of grey differed from those of the ubiquitous poplar. I wanted to capture the rich tapestry of textures in the colours unique to the foothills. I wanted to capture the shapes carved in geological time as the glaciers melted, cutting furrows and creating the Bow River with its origins in the distant Rockies. I was beginning to learn the names of the peaks, the High Rock Mountains to the left and the distinctive Devil’s Head to the right. I could see a scattering of people, families, some walking thier dogs, meandering along the winding trails, becoming miniaturized the farther they went. The gullies were deep as they reached the bottom their voices could be heard as if from some strange space. It was cold and I was wearing my Dicken’s painting gloves and was wrapped in blanket. As usual I was chasing the light. The most dramatic light for painting is that half light when the sun is setting or rising. But as every plein air artist know, one has to work quickly to catch the rapidly changing light. I returned a second evening and then finished the details in my home studio. During that period I was listening to a very dark apocalyptic novel, Blind, and I was playing it in the background as I painted at home. It had an impact on the mood of the painting. But the sunburst provided that sense of hope on the distant horizon. Very Sturm und Drang


Silverberry, Wolf Willow, Misisaimi’soyiis (Blackfoot), Binomial name: Elaeagnus commutata

For more about Blackfoot see Glenbow Museum. (2005).  Nitsitapiisinni Exhibit. Calgary, Alberta: Blackfoot Gallery Committee

Photo of Silverberry on Flickr

See Plein Air Gallery

© 2013 Art by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe. Last updated October 2013. meta4site@gmail.com


“The Stoney-Nakoda bands, commonly composed of extended families, lived along Alberta’s Rocky Mountain foothills from the headwaters of the Athabasca River south to Chief Mountain in Montana. These forest and foothill people hunted bison and other big game animals. With the establishment of Edmonton House (1795) and Rocky Mountain House (1799), they traded furs, hides and fresh meat, and were invaluable guides to traders, explorers (Lord Southesk, John Palliser, James Hector), surveyors (Canadian Pacific Railway; Geological Survey of Canada) and missionaries. They were introduced to Christianity by Methodist missionaries after 1840. The Methodist Mission at Morleyville on the Bow River was established by Reverends George and John McDougall in 1873. The Stoney, led by Chiefs Jacob Bearspaw, John Chiniki (also Chiniquay) and Jacob Goodstoney, accepted Treaty No 7 at Blackfoot Crossing in September 1877. The original reserve of 109 square miles was surveyed adjacent to the Morleyville mission in 1879. The Bearspaw and Wesley nations later claimed additional reserve land to the south and north. After years of petitions and negotiations, both the Bighorn (Kiska Waptan) reserve (west of Nordegg) and the Eden Valley reserve (west of Longview) were established in 1948. Descendants of the Wood Stoney people also live on the Alexis and Paul reserves west of Edmonton, which were set aside under the provisions of Treaty No 6 (1876). The traditional way of life based on hunting, fishing and trapping along the Rocky Mountain foothills has been largely replaced by agricultural activity and mixed farming. The economic base of the Stoney-Nakoda includes trapping, big-game hunting, guiding, ranching, lumbering, handicrafts, labouring and various professions. The Bearspaw, Chiniki and Wesley nations at Morley enjoy a high standard of living based on natural gas royalties and operate several commercial enterprises (such as stores, restaurants, service stations, a rodeo centre, a campground and the Nakoda Lodge). Their social life centres on family and cultural activities – the PowWows, Treaty Days, Rodeos, stampedes and camp meetings. Members of the 3 Nakoda nations live at Morley, Bighorn, Eden Valley. Their population numbered over 3400 in 1996 (Researcher Ian A. L. Getty, Morley, Alberta).”

“Stoney (Bearspaw, Chiniki, Wesley) Nation: The main Stoney reserve is located along the Trans Canada Highway #1, midway between Calgary and Banff. Morley townsite is situated beside the Bow River. The Stoney Nation is composed of three bands: Chief Jacob Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley/Goodstoney. The current chiefs of the three Stoney Nations are: Chief Darcy Dixon, Bearspaw Nation, Chief Bruce Labelle, Chiniki Nation and Chief Clifford Poucette, Wesley Nation. Each of these bands signed Treaty Seven in 1877 with the British Crown. The lands which make up the Stoney homeland are found in three separate locations. The Eden Valley reserve lies to the south of Morley; the Big Horn reserve to the north; the reserve at Morley, to the west of Calgary is the site of the Chief Goodstoney Rodeo Centre, where the Nakoda Pow-Wows are held annually. The Goodstoney Rodeo Centre is named after Chief Jacob Goodstoney, the leader who signed Treaty Seven on behalf of the people-Jacob’s Land. As descendants of the great Sioux nations, the Stoney tribal members of today prefer to conduct their conversation and tribal business in the Siouan mother tongue. The pow-wow celebration is an important aspect of our spiritual relationship with our homelands-our mother Earth. Our people agreed to share our lands with the new Canadians and to live in peace according to the queen’s promises made in Treaty Seven. Like many other Indian nations in Alberta and across Canada, the three Stoney bands have aboriginal treaty rights going back more than one hundred years.” http://www.treaty7.org/Article.asp?ArticleID=37

Sioux nations > Stoney Nation > Chief Jacob Bearspaw band

Sioux nations > Stoney Nation > Chiniki band

Sioux nations > Stoney Nation > Wesley/Goodstoney band

Stoney-Nakoda or îyârhe Nakodabi, “Rocky Mountain Sioux,” are culturally and linguistically allied to the Plains Assiniboine, but in Saskatchewan and Montana are characterized by differences in language and culture. They speak the northern dialect of the Dakota language.” Stoney: [1,000 to 1,500 (1987 SIL). Ethnic population: 3,200 (1987 SIL). Southern Alberta, west and northwest of Calgary, and central Alberta, west of Edmonton. Southern Stoney occupy 3 reserves represented on the Stoney Tribal Council at Morley, Alberta: Eden Valley, west of Longview, Alberta, the southernmost reserve and principally Bearspaw Band members (about 400 speakers); Morley, west of Calgary, the main administrative center of Stoney Country, with about 2,700 people of all three southern bands: the Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley Bands; Big Horn Reserve west of Rocky Mountain House, the most northerly of the 3, with about 100 people, mostly Wesley Band. Alternate names: Stony, Nakoda. Dialects: Southern Stoney, Northern Stoney. Dialects nearly 100% intelligible with each other. The northern dialect is spoken at Duffield (Paul Band) and Lac St. Anne (Alexis Band). Lexical similarity 89% with Assiniboine, 86% with Dakota of Manitoba, 85% with Dakota of North Dakota, 83% with Lakota. Classification: Siouan, Siouan Proper, Central, Mississippi Valley, Dakota.

Old Man’s Whiskers (Geum triflorum),

Post-treaty Life of Treaty 7 First Nations

Excerpts from Hildebrandt, Walter; Carter, Sarah; First Rider, Dorothy. 2008. The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7: Treaty 7 Elders and Tribal Council With Walter Hildebrandt, Dorothy First Rider, and Sarah Carter. Mcgill-Queens Native and Northern Series. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. ISBN: 0-7735-1522-4 408pp. http://mqup.mcgill.ca/book.php?bookid=1419

“The name of John McDougall still evokes strong feelings among the Stoneys. Both Archie Daniels and Lazurus Wesley said that McDougall did not work in the best interests of the Stoneys: “McDougall voiced his own opinion, not that of the Stoneys.” Lazurus Wesley went on to state that McDougall never really discussed treaty issues with the Stoneys and that his main purpose both at and after the treaty was to help the government. The Stoneys who had converted to Christianity were pressured by McDougall to help change the minds of those who did not want to sign the treaty. Bill Mclean also said that McDougall paved the way for the treaty among the Stoneys. McDougall, furthermore, was very unsympathetic to the religious practices of traditional Stoney spirituality, especially when it came to the Sun Dance (p.157).”

“Gwen Rider remembered it being said that McDougall was a “cruel person,” that he always tried to talk the Stoneys into allowing roads through their lands and “always had his way.” Matthew Hunter thought the Stoneys should never have placed their trust in McDougall: “McDougall told us to close our eyes and pray, but when we opened them our land was gone (p.157).”

“Another criticism of the missionaries came from former chief John Snow, who said that the missionaries “did not respect the Stoneys: “I have noticed that they think of the Indians as lower-class people. They call us savages referring to animals.” “[They] downgraded our culture,” Snow went on, and “criticized our religion.” McDougall was out for himself, taking his own land first, rather than acting in the interest of the Stoneys; when land questions were at issue the missionaries commonly worked against the best interests of the Stoneys. When Snow tried to explain what the Stoney position at the treaty had been, he was never listened to, but neither was he met with indifference: “I told missionaries [on the reserve today] about treaty agreements, that the government didn’t do what it should have done, that Indians have been overpowered – that the White man has been working to overpower the Indian all along . . . But the missionaries didn’t think [this] was important.” As an ordained minister in the United Church of Canada, Snow has successfully conveyed his people’s belief in the treaty process to a wide audience in church circles and in the constitutional meetings held across Canada in the early 1990s (p.157-8).”

Biographies p. 355

“John Chiniquay, the wife of Chief Chiniquay, who accepted the treaty for the Chiniki Nation. Chief Chiniquay had a son and two daughters, one being Bill’s grandmother. Chief Chiniquay’s other daughter was married to George Crawler. George had a younger brother called Hector Crawler, who was Bill’s

A Selected Timeline Related to Critical Events in this Region

11,000 years ago Prehistoric hunters chipped stone spearpoints to hunt in the hot grasslands. The Plano Period (10,000 – 8,000 BP) About 10,000 years ago the climate began to change and grasslands spread across southern Alberta. Mammoths and many other Ice Age animals became extinct, A beautiful example of an Alberta point. While other animals flourished including antelope and a new, smaller species of bison. This period, known as the ‘Plano’ period after the Spanish word for plains, lasted up to 8,000 years ago.

For more information on the Plano period see the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s site entitled “A History of the Native People of Canada – Palaeo-Indian Culture.

Stoney oral tradition asserts that their forefathers resided along the Rocky Mountain foothills from time immemorial. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Dakota (Sioux) occupied what is now western Ontario and eastern Manitoba prior to 1200 AD, and western Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan prior to 900 AD.??

1640 “The first recorded story (cited in the Jesuit Relations) was that the Stoney-Assiniboine separated from the Dakota/Lakota nation sometime before 1640, and it is postulated that they migrated westward with the Cree as the fur trade moved west along the Saskatchewan River trade routes.” wikipedia1670 “Hudson’s Bay Company employee Henry Kelsey traveled with Assiniboine-Stoney traders.” wikipedia

1700s Assiniboine hunted bison with bows. Aspen trees were already established. Prior to the arrival of Anthony Henday in central Alberta in 1754, Aboriginal people from the area were trading with Europeans either directly by visiting posts to the north and east themselves, or indirectly by trading with Cree and Assiniboine groups. These Aboriginal traders exchanged goods they had acquired from fur trade posts for furs, Beaver Indians at trading post. horses, food and other products. In turn, they then traded furs and other goods at posts for more goods that they could trade later. In this way European trade goods reached Alberta in unknown qualities for at least half a century before the first European arrived in person to trade.

1754 Trader Anthony Henday, recorded in his diary that he met Stoney-Assiniboine camps on his journey to Alberta. wiki

1790 Surveyors and explorers of the late nineteenth century typically turned to Siouan-speaking Stoney (Nakoda) guides, and as a result many landforms in Banff National Park are still known by their Stoney names.

1790 “Father de Smet reported in 1840 that the Rocky Mountain Stoney separated from the Plains Assiniboine about 1790, though he might have been referring to groups such as the Bearspaw band, who have by oral accounts had a tradition of fleeing westward to escape devastating smallpox epidemics.” wiki

1795 “Edmonton House was established. Stoney-Nakoda bands, commonly composed of extended families began to they trade furs, hides and fresh meat, and were invaluable guides to traders, explorers (Lord Southesk, John Palliser, James Hector), surveyors (Canadian Pacific Railway; Geological Survey of Canada) and missionaries. (Researcher Ian A. L. Getty, Morley, Alberta).”

1799 Rocky Mountain House was established.

1837 OZÎJA THIHA (meaning “bear’s foot”; Jacob Bearspaw; Mas-gwa-ah-sid, which reflects the Cree translation of his name), Stoney warrior and chief; b. c. 1837; d. 1903, probably near Morley (Alta).

1873 Reverend John Chantler McDougall and his father George Millward McDougall set up a mission in Stoney territory.

1875- Cattle ranchers had already arrived. Pine trees were already established.50 years ago Stoney Indian wove freshly-cut willows into the walls of a sweat lodge. There was already an open meadow.

1875 The Ontario family Andrew Sibbald came to Morley, AB from Ontario to teach at George and John McDougall’s mission at Morley. In May 1900, Andrew Sibbald’s son, Howard E. Sibbald became the farmer in charge at Morley, and from 1901 to 1904 he was the Indian agent there.

1877-09-22 The three bands, Chief Jacob Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley/Goodstoney of the Stoney Nation descendants of the Sioux nations, signed Treaty Seven with the British Crown. Ozija Thiba Bearspaw Stoney Chief Treaty 7 signer. OZÎJA THIHA (meaning “bear’s foot”; Jacob Bearspaw; Mas-gwa-ah-sid, which reflects the Cree translation of his name), Stoney warrior and chief; b. c. 1837; d. 1903, probably near Morley (Alta). http://www.treaty7.org/Article.asp?ArticleID=37 http://www.treaty7.org/Article.Asp?ArticleID=38

1879 The Canadian Pacific Railway station was established at Bearspaw in 1879 and was named after Chief Masgwaahsid, (Mas-gwa-ah-sid) or Bear’s Paw, who signed the treaty at Blackfoot Crossing, September 22, 1877.

1880s Indian agents did tolerate or even encourage Indians to hunt for subsistence during the winters during the 1880s and early 1890s, and even later in more remote regions, but they believed that when a sedentary agricultural way of life was feasible for any given community, that community should be dissuaded from hunting. Thus, from the perspective of some Indian officials, the restriction of aboriginal hunting rights might be a blessing in disguise.

1895 Quebec established its 2,531-square-mile Laurentides National Park in prohibiting all hunting in the park.

1898 Bearspaw, along with his fellow leaders, repeatedly lobbied the federal government to grant the Stoney tribe additional reserve land and to respect their hunting rights as promised under the treaty. The three Stoney chiefs formally established a land committee in 1898 to pursue territorial claims.

1900 Quebec deputy superintendent general reported that the aboriginals’ loss of hunting rights in the 2,531-square-mile Laurentides National Park near their reserve was one of the important factors that led them to direct their efforts towards agriculture.

1900 The last known wild passenger pigeon was killed around 1900.

1902 Howard E. Sibbald was the the Indian agent on the reserve when the outer boundaries of Banff National Park were enlarged to encompass nearly all the hunting grounds of the Stoney-Nakoda First Nations. In his annual report (1902) he wrote that the Stoney “took the enlargement of the Banff National Park very hard.” Reflecting on the enlargement of Banff National Park, wrote “I hope it will be for the best, for as long as there was any game so close to the reserve, it was hard for them to get down to work.”

1903-02 The Canadian Magazine published its obituary for the wild passenger pigeon species.

“[L]aws for the protection of our fish and game we have in plenty, but laws that are not enforced, and which are not supported by public sympathy, are worse than useless.” See Binnema and Niemi 2006.

1903 In his annual report Indian agent, Howard E. Sibbald, wrote that although hunting restrictions were “a hard blow to some of the old [Siouan-speaking Nakoda-Stoney] hunters, … the majority see the benefits to be derived from this preserve in years to come.” By that time, more Stoney had taken up paid work as guides even in the national park. He added that

“I consider these Indians have behaved very well under certain restrictions put upon them in connection with their hunting in the National Park; this was a hard blow to some of the old hunters who have hunted over this ground all their lives, but the majority see the benefits to be derived from this preserve in years to come (Sibbald 1902, 1903 Binnema and Niemi 2006)”

1903 In his annual report Howard Douglas argued that,

“Moose were frequently seen, elk, and black tail deer, big horns, and goats were plentiful; now some of these have totally disappeared… [and] there can only be one opinion on the subject. The Stony Indians are primarily responsible for this condition of affairs. They are very keen hunters, and have always been, and they are the only Indians who hunt in this section of the mountains. For years, from their reserve, they have systematically driven the valleys and hills and slaughtered the game. Their lodges are full of wild skins and meat. From thirty to fifty of the lodges are continually in the mountains from September 1 till Christmas … [T]he old haunts are deserted, the sheep runs are falling into disuse, and the greatest game country the sun ever shone upon is fast becoming a thing of the past. True, within the last few years, there has been a close season in which the Indians are supposed to stop harassing the game, but no notice has been taken of the law, and in short time this vast tract of mountain land, abounding in all that is required for the sustenance of wild animals, will be deserted, unless the Indians are compelled to live on their reserves. Laws are useless unless they are enforced. There seems to be a feeling that it would not do to press the more radical feature of the law amongst Indians. I feel that we have reached the time, when we can take a step in advance, when we can apply the laws more forcibly than we have, without creating any adverse sentiment. Let the line be drawn now; if we wait longer, the game will be gone (Douglas 1903).”

In his annual report Howard Douglas made an appeal for game wardens as the noted that with the expansion of the boundaries of the park, that there were increased difficulties in enforcement. What was not clearly explained in his annual report was that the new boundaries prevented the Nakoda-Stoney from hunting on almost all their hunting grounds! Douglas called for “the establishment of a rigid and thorough system of game guardians to maintain the legislation needed for the enforcement of much more severe penalties for its infraction.”

The Canadian government provided for the hiring of game wardens in national parks. Douglas believed that the Nakoda-Stoney were the most serious threat to the game of Banff National Park and he therefore chose Howard E. Sibbald as the first chief game guardian.

1910 In Glacier National Park in Montana, William R. Logan, the park’s first superintendent, was the former Indian agent on the Blackfoot reservation.

1911 The Canadian government passed the Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act, which established the Dominion Parks Branch-the world’s first national park service-and helped institutionalize the Warden Service of the national parks. This altered the boundaries of national parks so that areas that were not important tourist destinations were removed from the national parks. As a result much of the land in Banff Park was reallocated to a forest reserve. The Stoney only briefly took heart. In August 1911, the assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior sent a sternly worded letter to the secretary of the DIA announcing that it intended to enforce a new regulation that stipulated that no one was allowed to enter the forest reserves without special permission from the Department of Forestry. The documents suggest then, that the policies of barring aboriginal people from Banff National Park were rooted primarily in the goals and values of conservationists and sportsmen. But aboriginal subsistence hunting also frustrated one of the central goals of the DIA at the time: the civilization and assimilation of aboriginal people. When he was still the Indian agent at Morley, in 1903, Howard Sibbald opined that “as long as they can hunt you cannot civilize them. I have lived alongside of them for twenty six years, and with the exception of a few of the younger ones they are no more civilized now than they were when I first knew them, and I blame hunting as the cause.”

1930s By the 1930s, few Nakoda-Stoney could depend on full-time subsistence hunting.


1996 RCAP

2008 Harper’s Apology

Bibliography and Webliography

Anderson, Raoul. 1970. “Alberta Stoney (Assiniboine) Origins and Adaptations: A Case Study.” Ethnohistory.

Binnema, Theodore (Ted) and Melanie Niemi, ‘Let the Line be Drawn Now’: Wilderness, Conservation, and the Exclusion of Aboriginal People from Banff National Park in Canada. Environmental History. 11.4 (2006): 33 pars. 15 Jun. 2008 <http://www.historycooperative.org/journals/eh/11.4/binnema.html>.

Barbeau, Marius. 1960. Indian Days on the Western Prairies. Ottawa.

Canadian Parliament. Sessional papers, 1901–5, annual reports of the Dept. of Indian Affairs, 1900–4.

Dempsey, H. A. 1978. Indian Tribes of Alberta.

GA, M4390, vol.1, note on Chief Bearspaw. Whyte Museum and Arch. of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alta), M396 (Hermann Hagedorn papers), folder 3 (transcript of interview with George McLean [Tatânga Mânî).

Getty, Ian A. L. Biography. Research director, Nakoda Institute, Stoney Tribal Administration, Morley, Alberta, (spelled as Money not Morley).

Getty, W. E. A. 1974. “Perception as an agent of sociocultural change for the Stoney Indians of Alberta.” MA thesis, Univ. of Calgary. Copy at the Nakoda Institute.

Getty, Ian A. L.; & Gooding, Erik D. (2001). Stoney. In Handbook of North American Indians: Plains (Vol. 13, Part 1, pp. 596-603). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.

Harbeck, Warren A. and Mary Anna Harbeck. 1970. “A literacy method for Stoney: The two-hour introduction.”

Hildebrandt, Walter; Carter, Sarah; First Rider, Dorothy. 2008. The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7: Treaty 7 Elders and Tribal Council With Walter Hildebrandt, Dorothy First Rider, and Sarah Carter. Mcgill-Queens Native and Northern Series. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. ISBN: 0-7735-1522-4 408pp. http://mqup.mcgill.ca/book.php?bookid=1419

Jonker, P. M. 1988. The Song and the Silence: The Life of Sitting Wind.

Jonker, P. M. 1983. “Compilation of Stoney History Notes.” 20-page pamphlet issued by the Chiniki Band of the Stoney Indians, Morley.

MacEwan, J.G. 1969. Tatanga Mani-Walking Buffalo of the Stonies.

Morris. Treaties of Canada with the Indians.

Niddrie, J. W. 1992. “Memories of Morley.” Ed. J. W. Chalmers, Alberta History. Calgary.40: 3: 10–13.

Snow, Chief John. 1977. These Mountains are Our Sacred Places: the Story of the Stoney Indians. Toronto and Sarasota, Florida.

Vernacular Publications: Ozîja cha hûyagechîhâ. 1970; Wodejabi. 1971.

Oral traditions among the Stoney concerning Ozîja Thiha have been preserved at the Nakoda Institute, Stoney Tribal Administration (Morley, Alta), in transcripts of taped interviews with Elizabeth [McLean] Bearspaw, 8 Feb., 5 Nov. 1984, 18 Jan. 1985; Paul Dixon Sr, 23 Aug. 1984; Mary Kootenay, 25 April 1985; and Bill McLean, 26 July 1985.