About US - Stoney Education Authority

Stoney History

There are several theories as to the origin of the Stoney Nakoda.

Historically, they were called the formidable name of Wapamakthe which means "Head Hunters".  Today, they are known as the Iyethka “The Pure People”.

"Stoney" is a word that was arbitrarily given to the Stoney Nakoda by early European explorers. This was based upon their observation of our unique methodical cooking process. This observation of cooking with stones resulted in non-Aboriginals referring to the Stoney Nakoda as the "Stoney".

In 1877 at the signing of Treaty 7, the Ĩyãħé Nakoda were predominantly represented by three Head Chiefs – Bearspaw, Wesley, Chiniquay. These Chiefs made their marks on the Treaty document, based on the belief they were agreeing to put down their weapons to make peace, with no interruption to their use of traditional lands.

The Ĩyãħé Nakoda were later assured they would retain three large tracts of traditional homeland, one for each group. However, the government of Canada subsequently recognized the signings with one land entitlement, rather than separate land for each group.

The Ĩyãħé Nakoda are the only Aboriginals in Canada that, after signing a Treaty, were assigned a single land allocation for three individual groups.

Today, they are legally referred to as the Stoney Nakoda First Nation.

The federally designated land allocated to the Stoney Nakoda legally became known as the "Stony Indian Reserve".

The Reserve land was purveyed in 1879 and was fenced with barbed wire to outline its boundaries. According to oral history accounts, the missionary Reverend John McDougall played a significant role in persuading the leaders to sign the Treaty. It was much easier to Christianize and colonize the Aboriginals if they were concentrated in one location. The overall and enduring belief of the Stoney Nakoda was that Reverend McDougall betrayed them about the spirit and intent of the treaty-making process.

The original Reserve land allocation is adjacent to the Rocky Mountains, west of Calgary, Alberta. It is referred to as the Morley Reserve. One is located approximately 265 kilometers (165 miles) northwest of Morley, and is called the Big Horn Reserve. The second is located approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles) south of Morley, and is called the Eden Valley Reserve.

Bearspaw First Nation

According to oral history, Ozija Thiha ("Bear Paw") was a ferocious warrior. The older leaders within this southern group decided he was of a stronger character than their current Chief. Ozija Thiha was a man of integrity with a kind spirit.

He represented his tribe during the Treaty 7 peace negotiations with the government in 1877. However, the Bearspaw Band was contained on the Morley Reserve. Ozija Thiha was a strong advocate for the rights of his people until his death on the Morley Reserve in 1903.

The current Chief of the Bearspaw nation is Chief Darcy Dixon.

Chiniquay First Nation

According to oral history, Chi-ne-ka (a Cree name) had a Cree bloodline. Chiniquay encountered a group consisting of several clans of the Stoney Nakoda that were camped at the foot of Mount Laurie.

Using the traditional sign language, Chi-ne-ka gestured he had come in peace. Chi-ne-ka then asked if he and his wife could take sanctuary in their camp. They agreed to this arrangement and Chi-ne-ka and his wife stayed. Chi-ne-ka continued to earn his welcome. He had the unique ability to resolve disputes and to broker peace. He eventually became a leader of the tribe.

In 1877, Chi-ne-ka represented the group during negotiations of the Treaty 7 peace agreement with the government. Since that time, the group led by Chi-ne-ka was known as "Chiniquay Band" and since the 1980s as "Chiniki Band". Chi-ne-ka died on the Morley Reserve in 1906.

The current Chief of the Chiniki Nation is Chief Bruce Labelle.

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The word "Elder" has a more specific meaning in Ĩyãħé Nakoda culture. An Elder of the Ĩyãħé Nakoda is a male or female that has demonstrated, usually from an early age, a special aptitude for a certain cultural characteristic. This person is then groomed through life by a knowledgeable Elder to ultimately become an expert. In this way, continuity and accuracy have been maintained through succeeding generations.

Elders have different knowledge specialties and sometimes more than one. They all share common characteristics of wisdom, humility, and patience, plus a willingness to listen, advise, and share their knowledge when appropriate.

Some Elders have been taught ancient traditions and the way of life of the forefathers in a practical sense. They are able to associate how these traditions remain compatible in contemporary times, and provide guidance and inspiration to those seeking to affirm Ĩyãħé Nakoda identity through their heritage.

Elders learned to live their lives as an example for others. Highly respected, they are teachers of the young, counselors for adults, and advisors to the leaders.

Elders are a corner stone within our schools for learning, celebrations, and guidance.

Stoney Country

The Stoneys are the original “people of the mountains” known in their Nakoda Language as the Iyarhe Nakoda and previously as the Iyethkabi.

They are called by many different names historically and in current literature:

  • Stoney Nakoda (incorrectly as Stony)

  • Mountain Stoneys (or Sioux)

  • Rocky Mountain Stoney (or Sioux)

  • Warriors of the Rocks

  • Cutthroat Indians

  • (in Plains sign language, the sign of cutting the throat) or wapamathe.


Historically, their neighboring tribes designate the Stoney Nakoda as “Assiniboine,” a name that literally means “Stone people” or “people who cook with stones”.

Wesley First Nation

According to oral history, Ki-chi-pwot (a Cree name) had a Cree bloodline but lived among the northern group. In 1877, the government wished to make a peace treaty. A delegation of men and women made the journey to represent the Stoney Nakoda. Ki-chi-pwot was appointed as its main emissary. On behalf of the northern Stoney Nakoda group, Ki-chi-pwot placed his mark on the Treaty document. "Ki-chi-pwot, or Jacob". (Jacob was the name given to him by missionaries.) Ki-chi-pwot was officially recognized as Chief of the northern group, which then became known as "Jacob's Band". After Treaty 7 was signed, Jacob's Band was contained on the Morley Reserve. Eight years after signing Treaty 7, Ki-chi-pwot died on the Morley Reserve in 1885.

From an early age, Ta otha (Moose Killer) displayed leadership qualities. He was an expert hunter of big game. He was also a trapper, and became known as a provider for the people.

As a young man, Ta Otha was one of the representatives of Treaty 7 negotiations in 1877. The head leader for the northern group was "Ki-chi-pwot" (a Cree name). Ki-chi-pwot died in 1885 and Jonas Goodstoney became the new chief.

Ta otha continued to hunt to provide for his family and the people. This was despite constraints of the government's laws imposed upon them, which were enforced by the Indian Agent on the Reserve and by territorial police. Ta otha was selected as the new Chief. Peter Wesley was the name that had been given to Ta otha by missionaries, and Jacob's Band became known as "Wesley Band".

In 1894, Ta otha led his loyal group away from the Morley Reserve and the harsh conditions there. They travelled north to their traditional hunting and camping grounds. The government did not force them to return. He passed away in 1935 near the place of his birth.


Currently Ernest Wesley resides as Chief of the Wesley Nation. 

Stoney Tribal Administration

The Stoney Tribal Administration is the administrative arm of the Stoney Nakoda Nation.  

It's function is the management in all aspects of the nation including personnel, finance and programming. The role is to carry on the business of the nation.

The Stoney Education Authority represents four schools on three separate reserves: Nakoda Elementary School and  Morley Community School are on the Morley reservation; Ta Otha School is on the Big Horn reservation; and Chief Jacob Bearspaw Memorial School on the Eden Valley reservation.  

The Stoney Education Authority is situated west of Calgary and covers a large area. We have approximately 1,100 students within these four schools with a

dedicated staff of professionals to educate and nurture our students. 


Our schools strongly value the importance of cultural programs.

Students are given the opportunity to participate in programs such as: drumming, hoop dancing, traditional dance and song, Stoney Language, culture outdoor education, and exchange programs (experiencing other cultures). Our high schools offer Alberta Learning courses in Aboriginal Studies for graduation credits.


Every student attends Stoney / Nakoda Language and culture class.

School Powwows

The school community powwows are ways for the school to demonstrate its deep commitment to our students' culture. These are open to the public and therefore provide an opportunity for parent, school, and community engagement. Powwows are an opportunity for student cultural learning and practice.


The Stoney Education Authority strongly supports and provides quality Stoney language and culture programming. As a Nation the Stoney’s value our their cultural heritage and through educational programs strive to keep their culture and language alive. At the same time they recognize the need for skilled workers and economic development on their reservations. To this end they support their members to further their education and to continually strive for success.

From daily language and culture classes, smudging sessions, trickster storytelling sessions, singing and drumming, Elder sessions, Sweat Lodge ceremonies, weekly field trips to traditional Stoney Nakoda Sites, YMCA Exchange Programs, traditional hunt camps, cultural ceremonies and events, pipe ceremonies, horsemanship and horse ceremonies the Stoney Education Authority ensures their students are well engaged and immersed daily in Stoney culture, language and heritage.