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Shoshone, Kootenay and Crow

Three other tribes no longer have a presence in Alberta and, unlike the Gros Ventre, appear never to have had close alliances with tribes which are still here. The Kootenays generally lived west of the Rockies but one band, the Tuna'xe, had also lived in Alberta. Missionary Robert Rundle reported the Kootenays may have been pushed west by the Blackfoot although, in the generation that followed, they came out to the plains once or twice a year to hunt buffalo. "By 1807 the Kootenay definitely had withdrawn from the Canadian plains and that year David Thompson crossed the mountains to find them" (Milloy, p.13).

As described in the section on Pikuni, it may have been the result of Thompson establishing a Kootenay trading post which gave the Kootenay access to guns thereby making it possible to return west on an equal footing with other plains tribes.

There are four official place names of Kootenay origin in Alberta. The Kootenay Plains, west of Rocky Mountain House, were named apparently because the Kootenay Indians would assemble there annually to deal with fur traders from the Saskatchewan River forts (DB).

South Kootenay Pass, in the southwest corner of the province, is a difficult route across the Rockies but was the most direct way back to the buffalo hunting grounds after the Kootenay had been pushed west (DB). Akamina Pass is also of Kootenay origin. It seems the addition of the English generic (pass) was unnecessary as we are told that the Kootenay word "Akamina" means "pass." It is located just south of South Kootenay Pass in Waterton National Park (DB).

Koknee, a former locality seventeen kilometres southeast of Vermilion, was a misrepresentation of the Kootenay word "Kokanee" meaning "Red Fish." For some reason the name was adopted by a local school board and then by the post office which existed from 1936--1960 (DB).

The Crow Indians were also said to be chased out of Alberta (south) by the Blackfoot although both tribes are said to have raided each other's reserves even after the 18805. There appears to be only one official Alberta place name referring to the Crow. Crow Indian Lake, seventy kilometres southeast of Lethbridge. However Etzicom Coulee, southeast of Lethbridge, and the hamlet of Etzicom, Sixty-seven kilometres southwest of Medicine Hat were previously known by a Blackfoot name meaning "Crows' springs."

Six other names could be said to originate with the Crow if a link was found between them and the name "Crowsnest," as in the creek, lake, mountain, ridge, river and pass. The data base refers to a MacLean's Magazine article of 1928 which offers the theory that a group of Crow Indians raided Blackfoot territory and were chased back through the mountains. The Blackfoot are said to have cut off the Crows and killed them at what is now Crowsnest Pass. However, we are also told it is just as likely the pass was named for the crows or ravens in the area.

The Shoshone (also called the Snake Indians) are of Uto-Aztecan linguistic stock. It is believed they occupied southern Alberta for some time before the alleged surge of Cree into the west in the 1700s (Russell, p. 6). It is conjectured that the Shoshone introduced horses to Alberta11 and used them to military advantage chasing the Blackfoot tribes northeast where they remained until the acquisition of guns allowed them to push the Shoshone back south.12

Dempsey says that by the time fur traders arrived on the North Saskatchewan in the 1780s, the Shoshone had already retreated to their "historical" territory in Idaho. Wyoming and Nevada. Milloy writes that, without guns, the Snake were kept from the plains and relegated to the mountains while competing tribe's hunted buffalo. "Thus the Snake remained weak, ineffectual opponents, increasingly unable in the second half of the eighteenth century to hold back the southwestern thrust of the Blackfoot" (Milloy, p. 9).

"But it seems quite definite that between 1787 and 1805 the Snake withdrawal was completed ... The Snake allies, the Kootenay, seem to have retreated into the mountains in the same period" (Milloy, p. 12).

There are three official Alberta place names referring to the Shoshone. They include Snake Indian Mountain, seventy-four kilometres northwest of Jasper, which carries with it the legend that a group of Snake Indians were killed by Assiniboines there around 1810. At the time Snake Indians may have occupied territory north of Jasper House (DB). Snake Indian Pass and Snake Indian Falls are at the same location. Alberta also has two Snake Creeks and a Snake Hills but none of these are said to be named after the tribe.

Dempsey says "neither the Shoshoni, Kootenay nor Crow have any strong traditions about living in southern Alberta, so their period of residence in the area may have been of relatively short duration."


11.In 1878 an elderly Indian told Davtd Thompson of seeing his first horse when in his early 20s.

12."Prior to Cree penetration into the Saskatchewan River area, the Blackfoot had been driven out of southern Alberta by the Snake," (Milloy, p. 6). Saukamapee referred to Snake horses. "Misstutin" (big dogs), used against the Blackfoot in battle in 1732. However, he said the Blackfoot were helped by some Cree whose guides helped route the Snake (Milloy, p. 7).

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