We have continuously used, occupied and possessed our traditional lands since well before contact with the Europeans. Our traditional territory ranged from the Great Plains where we hunted buffalo to the Rocky Mountain foothills and watersheds where we harvested, fished and hunted big game and over the mountain passes to the British Columbia interior.
Bearspaw First Nation, along with Chiniki First Nation and Goodstoney First Nation were signatories to Treaty No. 7 made on September 22, 1877 at Blackfoot Crossing. Chief Jacob Bearspaw (Ozija Thiba) signed Treaty 7 on behalf of the Bearspaw First Nation.
Currently, Bearspaw First Nation members live primarily on four reserves; Stoney Indian Reserves #142, #143, #144 at Mini Thni (Morley) located 65 km. west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary, and Eden Valley Indian Reserve #216, located 120 km. south of Mini Thni (Morley) near Longview.
Bearspaw First Nation members speak the Stoney Nakoda language, which derives from the Nakoda dialect, part of the Sioux-Assiniboine language family. Stoney Nakoda is our mother tongue and continues to be spoken at meetings of Chief and Council, community meetings, special events and ceremonies.
Throughout our traditional territory, countless geographic landmarks, rivers, mountains, hills, migration trails, valleys and flats all bear longstanding Iyahre Nakoda names – names such as Minnewanka, meaning “sacred waters”, Kiska meaning “big horn sheep” or Îyâ Mnathka meaning “flat faced mountain” known in English as Yamnuska or Mount John Laurie. Places were often named after animals or interesting and well-known or memorable events occurring there. For many of these places, there is more than one Stoney name.