Siksika Nation, federal government to honour Blackfoot traditions with Castle Mountain settlement

Leaders of Siksika First Nation and the federal government are working together to preserve Blackfoot culture in the Castle Mountain area of Banff National Park.

Federal government settled historic land claim with Siksika First Nation for $123M

Siksika Chief Joe Weasel Child met with federal ministers Wednesday to celebrate the signing of the historic land claim. (CBC)

Leaders of Siksika First Nation and the federal government are working together to preserve Blackfoot culture in the Castle Mountain area of Banff National Park.

On Wednesday, members from both sides gathered to celebrate the conclusion of a decades-long land dispute.

A settlement between the Government of Canada and the Siksika will see the First Nation receive $123 million in compensation for illegal use of land granted in the late 1880s.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says Parks Canada is committed to working with the First Nation to create eco-tourism opportunities that would honour Blackfoot tradition.

"We've said we're committed to reconciliation and this is a concrete example of moving forward in a really positive spirit, looking at great opportunities that help protect our national parks, bring people to our national parks, provide new experiences, but also promote the community and provide economic opportunities," she said.

Claim dates back to 1880s

The dispute centres around the Siksika claim to Castle Mountain in Banff National Park dating back to the 1880s. 

They argued it was wrongfully taken from them in 1908 without their consent or proper compensation.

The lands at Castle Mountain, which are known to Miistukskoowa to Siksika, were added to the Rocky Mountain Park, now known as Banff National Park, in 1911.

Siksika Chief Joe Weasel Child says he's grateful to finally come to an agreement that benefits all parties.

"Now we're going to want to help enhance and add another dimension to Parks Canada by introducing the sacred nature of the land, but also Siksika traditions, how we use the land." he said.

Weasel Child says one idea he has to honour Blackfoot culture is to create an international youth hostel where visitors would learn about Blackfoot traditions.

With files from Kate Adach