Beginning in the 1880s and intensifying in the early 1900s, the federal government created a national network of parks that conserved “natural” areas and commodified them to contribute to the capitalist economy and nation-building. As part of this process, many Indigenous communities were forcibly displaced within the newly-established park boundaries. Starting in 1885, my ancestors, along with other Niitsitapi and Îyâhe Nakoda peoples, were forcefully removed from our traditional territories in what is now known as Alberta to help create Banff National Park. The Banff Indian Days were created in 1894 (and lasted until the 1940s) to entertain a train full of tourists who were stranded in Banff. What tourists did not know is that we used these performances to maintain connection and relation with our lands. We may have been displaced, but we have not been disconnected from our territories. To this day, we still use the places that our ancestors did.

Read More