Heritage & History


Wanigash Dokin Hiyubi Zhe - Our History

The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation is the most north-western representative of the Siouan language family. Historically, the Alexis people have come to be known by a variety of different names. Early records tend to use the term Assiniboine, which derived from the Cree and Ojibway languages and means Stone People or Stone Sioux. The respective English term is Stoney, while many Alexis residents use the term Isga to refer to themselves.

Archaeological findings suggest that Siouan-speaking people might have been in Alberta's foothills before Columbus reached North America. The earliest written historical documents available indicate that Nakota people were well established along the Saskatchewan and Athabasca Rivers during the 1700s. Several fur trading posts were explicitly opened along the Saskatchewan and Athabasca Rivers to attract the trade of the "Swampy Ground Stone People", who are the ancestors of today's Alexis residents. These trading posts include Boggy Hall and Pembina House near Lodgepole, Muskeg Fort near Drayton Valley, Upper Terre Blanche and Nelson House near the mouth of Wabamun Creek and Fort Assiniboine on the Athabasca River.

According to Alexis' oral history, a long time ago a charismatic Nakota chief from the south-east followed his vision and led his people to the shores of the sacred lake Wakamne (God's Lake - Lac Ste Anne). The lake and the surrounding area is rich in natural resources and it is used to supply Fort Edmonton with fish during the early fur trade. To this day, it remains a spiritual centre during the annual Lake Ste Anne pilgrimage. 

In 1877, Chief Alexis (also known as Kees-Kees-Chee-Chi or Nabe Tusahan, meaning "Cut-off hand") signed the adhesion to Treaty Six on behalf of the Nakota of the North Saskatchewan, Pembina and Athabasca River region. When the Alexis Reserve (No. 133) was surveyed in 1880, taking reserve at the shore of the sacred lake Wakamne was a logical choice for the Band. Despite having taken reserve, Alexis' families maintained their strong ties to their hunting territories in Whitecourt, Cynthia and along the Foothills by spending the trapping season on the land and working in logging camps until the 1950's and 60's.

In 1995, Alexis, Treaty Land Entitlement led to the establishment of Alexis' Whitecourt (No. 232), Elk River (No. 233) and Cardinal River (No. 234) reserves. While many families still practice traditional activities such as berry picking, gathering of herbs, hunting, tanning and preparation of dry meat, Alexis' residents have also adapted to a contemporary lifestyle on the reserve.

Although closely related to their Cree neighbors through intermarriage and centuries of neighborly interaction, Alexis maintained a cultural uniqueness as a Nakota Nation. This uniqueness continues to be celebrated in the rich oral traditions present in our community. 

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Our Songs & Culture

There are many different songs that are sung and just as many reasons for singing them. Some are sacred and sung only during ceremony, songs such as the Sundance songs or the ones given during the vision quest. These songs given in the vision quest are personal and not sung for any reason other then when it is appropriate. This is also true of the ones sung in the sweat lodge ceremony. If you think about it all aspects of our lives are sacred and each song is special in its own way. 

Long ago people were so in touch with that which moves all things that they were blessed with songs for many different reasons. There is a Grandfather who is the keeper of songs and this is where the sacred songs come from. It is said that each and every living being created has its own song. 

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Isga Owawabi - Our Language

The Stoney language is a gift to the Stoney people from the Creator. It embodies all that is fundamental to the identity of a Stoney. Historically, the elders passed this gift on to the younger generations. It took a lifetime to share their knowledge of the language and culture. 

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Our Vision

We are a humble nation that strives to live in harmony with the Creator and all His creation. Our vision and our hope is to maintain our Stoney language, traditional way of life and cultural values. As a nation, we recognize the responsibility of becoming sovereign. Guided by our spiritual beliefs and moral values, we will utilize every resource that the Creator has bestowed upon us, to empower our people; spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.

We will walk in both worlds without compromise. We will educate ourselves wholistically while protecting the integrity of our inherent and Treaty Rights. Our right to lands, independence and freedom. This right was endorsed by our past Chief "Arannazhi" through pipe ceremony with our ancestors and sealed by the Creator - it will exist throughout eternity, "As long as the sun shines, the grass grows and the rivers flow, our treaties are sacred."