Our Names, Our Identity
In our culture, a name is more than a word we use to identify ourselves. From an early age, each of us is given a spiritual name by our parents, our elders. Our name represents the actions we take, the values we believe in, the role that the creator has arranged for us.
We share our names with the animals that roam on our land, because they are important to us. The creator placed them on this earth so that we could make food with their meat, make clothing with their furs and hides, make tools that help us to hunt and build tipis.
In the eyes of the creator, each animal is unique. They all have different traits, and help us in different ways. The eagle is especially most sacred to us. He is the messenger from heaven, to give us messages from the creator that gave us life by sacrificing his own. To honor the eagle, we have ceremonies, prayers, and fasting rituals, and only through a vision do we sacrifice one of their lives to receive the feathers that once belonged to them, for us to use in our ceremonies.
It is our duty, our responsibility, to protect them. One of our elders was given the name of “keeper of the eagle clan”, and some of our children are also given the name “good eagle” to continue this role and tradition. The logo of our nation, the Chiniki First Nation, is of an eagle soaring over the mountains that surround our land, representing his importance in our culture.
We also celebrate the other animals that live among us here in the mountains and prairies. The bear has the ears of Mother Nature, the coyotes and loons have the voices to help us speak. The music in our culture, which we also play for our guests here at the Chiniki Cultural Centre, tells the stories of these animals, and signifies their movements through their journey with Mother Nature.
Within our lands, the presence of the buffalo was especially plentiful. Walking Buffalo, a Stoney Nakoda elder, was given his name because he was able to walk through a herd of buffalo when others could not. The buffalo himself helps us to heal, reflected in the Sundance we hold. When our Sundance maker receives a vision from the creator, we all gather to share a healing dance, while the maker holds one of our buffalo skulls.
We invite you to learn our stories, see the way we honor our animals, and talk with our elders during your visit to our Cultural Centre. Come, enjoy, be inspired by our food and our culture.
Special thank you to Shaylee Powderface, Cultural Exhibition Interpreter, for sharing these stories and legends.
The Chiniki Cultural Centre is located next to the Trans-Canada Highway (Exit 131, Morley Road). Our cultural exhibition is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and our gallery shop, along with Stones Restaurant, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Our facility is wheelchair accessible, has free Wi-Fi internet access and can accommodate group bookings. We encourage visitors to share photos of their #ChinikiCulture and #StonesRestaurant experiences with us online via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.