The Municipal District of Bighorn No.8
The Municipal District of Bighorn No.8, previously Improvement District No.8, was created inJanuary of 1988. The municipal district (M.D.) is located east of Banff National Park, along theeastern slopes of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. The municipal district is a rural municipality that covers approximately 2700 square kilometres and is comprised of wilderness areas and five hamlets: Benchlands, Dead Flats, Exshaw, Harvie Heights, and Lac des Arcs. The land
encompassed by the municipal district has various uses such as recreational, agricultural, forestry and ranching. There are also several industrial sites within the municipal district that take advantage of the natural resources in the area, including oil and gas, hydropower, cement production and mineral extraction of magnesium and lime.
Pre Contact Occupation of the Bow Valley and the Mountain Stoney
The Bow Valley area was occupied for hundreds of years before Europeans discovered the New
World. Pictographs in the Bow Valley are estimated to be over a thousand years old, and the
painted images predate the aboriginal groups that currently call the region home.1 These
images include bison, human figures, moose, deer, elk, and handprints, some of which are
located higher than a human could reach unassisted and would have required the use of
scaffolding or ladders to place on the cliff.2
The people living in the Bow Valley at the time of contact were the Assiniboia, or Mountain
Stoneys, whose language, Nakoda, is closely related to the Sioux in the United States.34 The
Assiniboia immigrated to the area from the southern United States around 1640 AD, and were
some of the first peoples to trade with the Bay Company (HBC) when the HBC
ventured west.5 By 1790, the Assiniboia had formed two distinct groups in western Alberta: the
Mountain Stoney and the Plains Stoney.6
History Context Paper.
1 Rob Alexander and Dene Cooper, Exshaw: Heart of the Valley, Manitoba: Exshaw Historical Society, 2005, pp. 28.
2 Ibid., pp. 28 29.
3 Alberta Online Encyclopedia, Voices:
4 Ibid., 30.
5 Ibid., 30
6 Ibid., 30 31.