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Siksika Place Names

Of ninety-one official Native place names linked to Blackfoot Origins, only two are linked directly to the Siksika, while the Kainah and Pikuni fair only slightly better. Many other names said to employ Blackfoot words, or to be English translations of Blackfoot, could easily have origins within anyone of these tribes. Names which are linked specifically to the Kainah and Pikuni Indians will be included in those sections. Those which are linked to the Siksika will be mentioned here along with some other "Blackfoot" names.

The two names which refer directly to the Siksika are the locality of the same name, seventy-two kilometres east of Calgary, and the reserve on which it is situated (Siksika I.R. # 146. formerly known as the Blackfoot Reserve). We are told that Siksika, the locality, has often been confused with the town of Gleichen but is in fact a separate community (DB).

There are thirty-four official "Blackfoot"-language place names in Alberta. An example of a Blackfoot-language name is Pakowki Lake found seventy kilometres south of Medicine Hat. The lake is one of the largest bodies of water in southern Alberta, "Pakowki" is apparently a Blackfoot word meaning "bad water" and describes the lake's "offensive odor of hydrogen sulphide" (DB),

We are told that some fifty-seven official names are likely English translations of "Blackfoot" names. Deadlodge Canyon, ninety-four kilometres northwest of Medicine Hat, is a translation of the Blackfoot term "where there are many of our dead lodges." Apparently a smallpox epidemic killed many Natives in the area (DB),

The Blackfoot name for Hammer Hill, thirty-three kilometres east of Drumheller. is "Poxatsis" which means "stone hammer," It is said that a stone shaped like a hammer was once on top of this hill and that it was of religious significance to the Blackfoot before it was "moved to Ottawa via Gleichen in 1912" (DB). The hill was also used as a buffalo jump by the Blackfoot.

There are five official names which commemorate either the "Blackfoot". "Blackfoot" people or "Blackfoot" events. Blackfoot Crossing is from the Blackfoot name "Soi-a-pohk-we" which refers to a "ridge-under-water" and had always been a good place to ford the Bow River (DB). This is also the place where the Siksika and other tribes signed Treaty Seven in 1877 and today falls within the boundaries of the Siksika reserve.

The locality Crowfoot, on the northern boundary of the Siksika Reserve, is named for the Siksika chief who signed Treaty Seven. His real name was "Saho-Muxika-Sapo-Mukikow." Crowfoot Creek is also named for him but Crowfoot Mountain and Glacier (named in 1959) are said to have been named for the shape of the glacier not after the Siksika chief (DB).

There are twenty other official place names in Alberta which are English but also known to have unrelated "Blackfoot" names. Bullhorn Coulee, which flows into Layton Creek sixty kilometres southwest of Lethbridge, seems to be one of these. The English name refers to remnants of slaughtered buffalo found here, whereas the Blackfoot name "Pomepisan", if directly translated, would produce "Grease Pound Creek." We are told a buffalo pound was built here and that meat was boiled at the site to make grease (DB).


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