Within the Indigenous culture women are revered as brave warriors, protectors and givers of life. So to know so many of them live near the base of a mountain that bears a disrespectful and derogatory name, cuts deep for many in the community.
Buddy Wesley is a Chiniki First Nation community member and said it’s long overdue for a name change.
“It was called Squaw’s Tit and it was a counter-action and we have decided to honor the women,” Wesley said.
“We as First Nations do not name mountains after a person we are not worthy, they’re majestic and sacred and they are gods to us.”
Chiniki elder Una Wesley said the shameful nickname that evolved over a century needed to be reverted to it’s original trademark: Anû kathâ Îpa.
“This is 2020 and women should be honored.”
“I want the younger generation to know the history of the people and it will give us more strength and more courage to be proud of who we are,” Wesley said.
She and several other Stoney Nakoda elders were involved in finding the history of the Canmore peak’s original name. The women decided to return it to its original namesake.
“It is an honor and privilege for me to stand here and I declare that mountain be named, Anû kathâ Îpa, in English it means bald eagle peak,” Wesley said.
The embarrassing evolution of the name has existed as far back as the late 1800s. But the mountain will no longer bear the scars of that name.
Colin Simeon, a Chiniki first nation councillor, helped the initiative saying he wanted better for his children.
“I have four daughters and I didn’t want them growing up knowing this name brought upon this mountain,” Simeon said. “I wanted them to know the original name.”
Chiniki First Nation Chief Aaron Young was pleased the significant ceremony happened in the autumn.
“It is only fitting we come together in fall. It represent growths for all us mankind. I want to recognize a time of change we have known for many generations,” Chief Young said.
The former name is written in blogs, hiking guides and even some maps. Over time, new additions will remove the offensive name repairing the history of racism. Another Chiniki First Nation councillor, Charles Mark, called the name change a relief.
“The mountain has a spirit and now the mountain will be happy,” Mark said.