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It is believed the Assiniboine, who speak the Nakota dialect of the Dakota language, separated from the Sioux of the Mississippi headwaters before 1640 and joined the Cree to occupy an area north of Lake Superior (Dempsey, p. 43). Malloy writes that the Assiniboine joined the Woodland Cree at their most westward position during the pre-fur trade era: "There, some time in the seventeenth century, they welcomed the Assiniboine, originally of the Sioux nation. Jointly, the Cree and the Assiniboine entered the Hudson's Bay Company trading system and became familiar with the territory west of Lake Winnipeg" (Milloy, p. 41).

Russell gives another opinion: "There is no evidence that the Assiniboin accompanied the Cree into the west. Instead, the earliest data, even though they are vague, suggest that Assiniboin were well established far into Saskatchewan before 1700 very early in the fur trade era. Seemingly, they extended beyond the Cree: both the early French and the HBC considered them to be in contact with the Dogrib or western Athapaskans (Russell, p. 214)." 10

The Assiniboine's hunted a vast area of the northern plains and were frequently at war with the Dakota, Crow and Gros Ventre. MacGregor has the Assiniboine as far west as the Alberta-Saskatchewan border in the early 1700s (MacGregor, p. 31). Around the early 1700s a gradual separation occurred among the Assiniboine and by 1744 one group, the Stoney, were mainly along the Saskatchewan and Assiniboine rivers.

In the 1860s a Methodist minister John McDougall established a mission among the Stonies. In 1873 he and George McDougall established a new mission at Morley, a traditional Stoney winter camping ground (Palmer, p. 24). It is difficult to ascertain how long the Stoney have lived in this area but the Stoney themselves have an oral tradition that they have lived there from time immemorial (Snow, p. 1). Tribal boundaries circa 1875 were said to be in the foothills from the Athabaska River south to Chief Mountain in Montana (Snow, p. 19).

An estimated thirty "Assiniboine" Indians were killed in the Cypress Hills Massacre of 1873 by Canadian and American frontiersmen. The incident is said to have been the deciding factor in the Canadian government sending the North-West Mounted Police to restore order in the west and to stamp out the whiskey trade (Palmer, p.35).

Tribal Location since Signing of Treaties

After Cree, Stoney is the most predominant tribe of origin for Alberta place names. Most of those names can be found in territory historically occupied by the Stoney in the Rocky Mountain foothills and west of Edmonton.


10. This mention of the Dogrib Indians would place the Assiniboine in a very odd location considering a map provided by Asch (p. 338) which locates the Dogrib around 1850 north of the Dene Tha in the North West Territories. Perhaps the term Dogrib was applied to more than one tribe the way Slave was often used for the Dene Tha and Blackfoot. It's worth mentioning that, according to the data base, there is a legend behind Rock Lake placing Dogrib Indians there (sixty-five kilometres north of Jasper) at some unspecified time. The legend suggests that a Stoney medicine man came across Dogrib Indians there and sneaked away with one of their women. After returning to his own people and being discovered as a liar the medicine man was bound to a heavy stone and drowned in Rock Lake. (DB).

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