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Band seeks wider inclusion of First Nations in Stampede.

A non-treaty First Nation would like to see the Calgary Stampede acknowledge the contributions of the Cree in the development of southern Alberta.

Joe Fromhold, CEO with the Asini Wachi Nehiwawak Mountain Cree band, says the Cree have as a rich history in the south as does the Blackfoot, which are embraced fully by the Calgary Stampede.

"(The Calgary Stampede) is putting up a ... display that gives a short history of the Blackfoot ... and we would like them to have included something about the Mountain Cree or the Cree in general and they absolutely refuse," said Fromhold.

Fromhold says the Mountain Cree contacted the Stampede prior to last year's 100-year celebration to make the request. He says his letter received no response and subsequent follows-up resulted in no acknowledgement from the Stampede.

Kurt Kadatz, director of corporate communications with the Calgary Stampede, says the organization has no record of being contacted by Fromhold or the Mountain Cree, whether by letter or by telephone.

"If any group wants to talk to the Stampede about their level of participation ... we are certainly open to having a conversation," said Kadatz.

He says the celebration last year, which marked the Stampede's centennial, highlighted the "very specific relationship with the Treaty 7 First Nations" that the Stampede has with the Blackfoot tribes. In 1912, Stampede founder Guy Weadick requested that the federal government grant the Blackfoot special permission to leave their reserves to be part of the Stampede. Since that time, Treaty 7 has been included in the Stampede in a variety of ways such as the Indian Village, parade marshalls, and the crowning of an Indian Princess.

Fromhold says the Mountain Cree do not want to be part of the activities that go on at the Stampede but wants to be acknowledged as one of the Aboriginal peoples who helped develop the south.

Fromhold says the Cree, specifically the the Asini Wachi Nehiwawak, have had a longer historic association with Calgary than the Blackfoot, Stoney or Tsuu T'ina. The ancestral Cree were the ice-front people who moved into southern Alberta 15,000 years ago during the Ice Age.

"One of my own ancestors was in fact born on the Old Man River around 1650," said Fromhold.

Fromhold has research that shows the extent of the Mountain Cree's involvement in the south ranging from building the Bow Fort on the Bow River in 1822; building the first mission in southern Alberta, Our Lady of Sorrows Mission on the Elbow River in 1870; and providing contract labourers to build Fort Macleod in 1874.

Fromhold is concerned that the display which the Stampede has erected above one of its entrances recognizing the five Blackfoot tribes is misleading. Visitors from all over the world will read that display, he says, and not understand the full impact of all Aboriginal peoples in developing Alberta's south.

"We're not really celebrating anything other than the specific relationship that we have with Treaty 7 ... that is an ongoing feature in the Stampede," said Kadatz. "I don't know that we're claiming to offer a wide expanse of history lesson."

Perhaps the Stampede should, says Fromhold.

"This is a historical issue. It's not a Calgary Stampede issue. Treat history realistically rather than stereotypically," he said. "I would like to see a general statement about the Aboriginal peoples of southern Alberta and their historic roles."

By Shari Narine

Sweetgrass Contributing Editor

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Title Annotation:CALGARY
Publication:Alberta Sweetgrass
Date:Mar 1, 2013
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