July 17, 2019

We’ve received a bit of feedback about the choice of our name of late. Let’s clear a few things up:

  1. It is a fact that the Buffalo were virtually extinguished in the early 1870’s. It is also a fact that policies by the governments of the day (American and Canadian) were a major factor in their demise. That is in no way to be celebrated, but mourned.

  2. Our name is an anglicization of the name given to our area by the Cree. They called it oskana ka-asastēki, often shortened to Wascana or Oskana, which translates to Pile O’ Bones – a common nick-name for Regina.

  3. The name was first recorded by John Palliser, who came here in 1857 – 10 years before Canada became a country, prior to the American Civil war, or the Dakota wars and well before the battle of the Greasy Grass and the brutal American retaliation that followed.

  4. We are not in a position to say why the Cree called it Pile O’ Bones, nor do we need to. Given that it was named at a time that preceded the most destructive aspects of colonial policies, it seems unlikely that the Cree named it as a result of the mass-destruction of the buffalo. Even if they did, we think the name invites the average Canadian to think about colonization and the devastating impacts on First Nations and Métis people.

  5. The Office of the Treaty Commissioner recommends teaching Indigenous place names as part of our education curriculum and specifically included Wascana/Pile O’ Bones in their report. We agree that encouraging awareness of the Indigenous names for places in our province is critical to promoting awareness of the unique history of the first peoples of this area, which is Treaty 4 territory, ancestral lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota, Lakota and the traditional homeland of the Métis

  6. Some Indigenous language protectors argue we should rename Regina oskana ka-asastēki – obviously not because of any celebration of genocidal policies of a hundred of years ago. Rather, they are advocating for decolonization by taking back their place names.

  7. In our view using the Indigenous name, even an anglicized version of it, was a better way to identify our locale than many of the common colonial names used in our city – for instance, the Queen City (another common nick-name) Victoria, Albert, Montague, etc.

  8. Our city’s actual name, Regina, was given to us by a princess who had never been to our province and probably never met an Indigenous person.  That was all part of Dewdney’s effort to erase the Indigenous Peoples’ connection to this place.

  9. Our ownership group is alive to the unique place of Indigenous People in our province and includes a number of Métis people, including myself, a founding Partner, a proud Métis, a graduate of Gabriel Dumont College and the Program for Legal Studies for Native Peoples.  By day, I work as an advocate on behalf of Indigenous governments across western Canada. My 2x great grandfather was one of the first Métis members of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly.  My 3x great grandfather held various posts in Riel’s 1870 provisional government and was hired by the Saulteaux to be an interpreter at Treaty 3.  My 4x great grandfather was Augustin Nolin, who fought with the Ojibway in the war of 1812 before relocating to Red River where he began life as a trader.  My 5x great grandfather was also an entrepreneur and made his living operating trading posts at Michipicoten, Michilimackniac and finally at Selkirk.  He also participated in the war of 1812.    My point is that I personally care deeply about the history of our country and our people.  I know my partners do too.

We look forward to discussing our Province’s unique history and the special place of Indigenous peoples further when we open to the public in a few weeks. After all, we are all Treaty people.

Josh Morrison, Director, Pile O’ Bones Brewing Company Ltd.

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