Tsuu T'ina Nation

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"Sarcee" redirects here. For the language, see Sarcee language.
Tsuu T'ina children in traditional regalia at a Stampede Parade
Tsuu T'ina man and his wife

The Tsuu T'ina Nation (also Tsu T’ina, Tsuut’ina, Tsúùtínà - "a great number of people";[1] formerly Sarcee, Sarsi) is a First Nation in Canada. Their territory today is confined to the Tsuu T'ina Nation 145 Indian reserve, whose east side is adjacent to the southwest city limits of Calgary, Alberta although their traditional territory was much more extensive. The land area of the reserve is 283.14 km² (109.32 sq mi), and it had a population of 1,982 in the Canada 2001 Census. The northeast portion of the reserve formed part of CFB Calgary, a Canadian Army base from 1910–1998. In 2006, the land was returned to the Nation by the Government of Canada. The Tsuu T'ina people were formerly called the Sarsi or Sarcee, words which are believed to have been derived from a Blackfoot word meaning stubborn ones. This is in reference to territorial conflict between the Tsuu T'ina and the Blackfoot Confederacy. The term is now viewed as offensive by most of the Tsuu T'ina.[citation needed]

The proximity of the territory to the City of Calgary had led to disagreement over the Province of Alberta's plans to construct the southwest portion of a ring road, referred to as Stoney Trail (Highway 201), a freeway which encircles the City of Calgary and which must pass through Tsuu T'ina land to avoid environmentally sensitive areas. A 2009 referendum by the Nation rejected a plan to transfer reserve land to the Province of Alberta to permit construction of the southwest portion of the ring road. Some members of the Nation were upset by the rejection of the land transfer,[2] while others viewed it as a triumph both environmentally and for the Nation. A subsequent referendum held by the Nation in 2013 approved the land transfer for the ring road.[3]

In 2007, the Tsuu T'ina opened the Grey Eagle Casino just outside city limits.[4] The Grey Eagle complex began a major expansion, including construction of a hotel, in 2012.[5] Both the initial construction of the casino and the expansion have been accompanied by concerns about traffic tie-ups in the area of the casino.


The Tsuu T'ina are an Athapaskan group, once part of the more northerly Danezaa ('Beaver Indians') nation, who migrated south onto the plains during the 1700s, prior to any written records of the area. Tsuu T'ina oral history has preserved the memory of the separation.[6][7]

Explorer David Thompson stated that they lived in the Beaver Hills near present-day Edmonton during the 1810s where they cohabited with the Cree. At some point however, they came in conflict with the Cree and moved further to the south, eventually forming an alliance with the Blackfoot.[8]

It was undoubtedly from the Blackfoot that the Tsuu T'ina acquired most of their Plains Indian culture.[citation needed] Although in most respects the Tsuu T'ina are typical Northern Plains Indians, their language remains pure Athabaskan to this day. As such it is closely related to the languages of the Dene groups of northern Canada and Alaska and also the Navaho and Apache languages of the American Southwest.

They were noted among other northern Plains tribes for their tanned bison robes and fine buckskins, likewise their handcrafted saddles and cherry wood bows. As early as 1910 the Tsuu T'ina were noted as farmers and cattlemen, and they continue in these occupations at the present time.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Treaty 7 Management - Tsuu T'ina Nation (Sarcee)". Treaty7.org. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  2. ^ http://www.transportation.alberta.ca/Content/docType490/Production/CSWRR/Communities_workshop_1.pdf
  3. ^ MacLean, Andrea (25 October 2013). "Tsuu T'ina members approve ring road plan". CTV News. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Tsuu T'ina casino opens amid smoking, traffic concerns". CBC News. 19 December 2007. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Tsuu T'ina announces $65M Grey Eagle Casino expansion". CBC News. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  6. ^ Report on the Sarcee Indians by the Rev. E.F. Wilson - as published in the Report of the Fifty-Eighth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science -Page 243
  7. ^ Indian Legends of Canada by Ella Elizabeth Clark - Page 92
  8. ^ Graham A. MacDonald (2009). The Beaver Hills Country: A History of Land and Life (PDF). AU Press. p. 3. 
  9. ^ Weismiller, Bryan (2013-01-17). "Tsuu T'ina Nation mourns decorated WWII veteran". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2013-01-25. 

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