The Four Bands of Hobbema have officially requested to change the community’s name to Maskwacis.
In a letter written to Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, and Transportation Minister Ric McIver, Chief Marvin Yellowbird of the Samson Cree Nation says they hope to be able to make the official announcement at the Maskwacis Cree Nation meeting held at the end of summer.
On March 13 of last year, Yellowbird and 11 of the 12 Samson Cree Nation councillors signed a document stating they were re-affirming their power over traditional territory known as Maskwacis and Nipishkopahk. The Ermineskin Cree Nation, the Louis Bull Tribe and the Montana Band support the request.
Although the territory was named Hobbema in 1891, the Plains Cree Nation never ceded its rights and title to the land.
Over the past several years, indigenous peoples across the world have been reclaiming their traditional names and the Samson Cree Nation is advising third parties to respect the re-affirmation. The Samson Cree Nation, the Ermineskin Cree Nation, the Louis Bull Tribe and the Montana Band.
Only a portion of the land falls in Ponoka County and on July 16 county councillors approved the motion of the band council resolution to the minister.
According to CAO Charlie Cutforth, provincial approval has already been given. “Because it’s a hamlet where at least a portion of the community has hamlet status in Ponoka County we’re required a resolution to change the name as well,” he explained.
Hobbema was given its named by Sir William Cornelius Van Horne, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, because he admired the paintings of Dutch artist Meindert Hobbema. The name was chosen when the Calgary-Edmonton line was laid.
According to the Central Alberta Regional Museum Network website, “There is a folklore legend that the site of Hobbema was chosen as a result of a dream by a band chief named Ermineskin. He dreamt that a priest was pointing a crucifix in the direction of Hobbema.”