Mohkínstsis is the Blackfoot word for “elbow.” Wincheesh-pah is the Stoney word for “elbow.” Kootsisáw is the Tsuut’ina word for “elbow.” While the place where the Elbow River meets the Bow is today commonly known as Calgary, it’s had many other names throughout its history, which expands for thousands of years in all directions. The rivers’ confluence is a location of perennial importance. Sprung from a small lake on the eastern lip of the Rocky Mountains, the Elbow River snakes its way through the foothills in between the mountains and the city, enriched by the mineral-saturated terrain through which it travels. The Bow River also runs from the Rockies through the foothills and into the Prairie. Both rivers have always been veins of life. Today, they provide direction, power, fresh drinking water, and a home for millions of kinds of life. The Bow is fiercer, and has historically only had two crossings; one, where the Elbow meets it, and the second, Blackfoot Crossing: an integral trading route and hunting ground, and the place where Treaty 7 was signed in 1877. Today, the Bow and the Elbow continue to provide for all of us who call this place home—they cannot be owned, nor can this land. We are required, in return, to care for the rivers in collaboration with their traditional custodians who have always, and will continue to, care for this land, and tell its story; the Siksika, Piikani, and Kainai Blackfoot First Nations who have called this land home for many millennia; the Tsuut’ina First Nation, whose ᑕᓀᖚ (Dane-zaa) ancestors migrated here from the northern Peace River before Europeans settled in this region; and the Chiniki, Bearspaw, and Wesley Stoney Nakoda First Nations whose ancestors migrated from the south and since, have cared for the rivers where they begin. Many other Indigenous people from across these lands and others also call this place home and care for it generously, and where the rivers meet is part of the home of the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.
This is a project about acknowledging land: its past, present and future, and the people who have cared for it since time immemorial, who care for and defend it today, and who will continue to care for and defend it in the years, decades and centuries to come. It is a perpetual project; the practice of acknowledging is never complete, nor finished. The acknowledgement as it exists today, as you read it, is where we are now. The archives include where we’ve come from, and the contributors who’ve integrally shaped the text. And, in the future, this text will reflect where we go and what we learn. It is up to each individual however, to make their own acknowledgement, to understand their responsibility to learn about the many histories of this land, and to place themselves in relation to such acknowledging; reading this text should not be treated as a passive act, but rather, an ongoing and active process of acknowledging. Together, this is our living text.
Richelle Bear Hat
Curtis Running Rabbit-Lefthand