The Aseniwuche Winewak Nation: Our people have a rich heritage and history: bloodlines descend from Cree, Iroquois, Beaver, Sekani, Assiniboine, Ojibwa and Shuswap.
Until the 1960's, we enjoyed a rich traditional lifestyle. In 1910, the Aseniwuche Winewak who had traditional homesteads in the Jasper area were forced to relocate.
The Aseniwuche Winewak enjoyed a rich traditional lifestyle before the 1960's. They lived off the land as hunters, trappers and guides. In 1910, the government created Jasper National Park. The People who had traditional homesteads in the Jasper area were forced to relocate. Some families were bought out, others were forced out. As the People left for the Grande Cache and Hinton areas, they were promised to be left alone. The promise was short-lived, with an attempted eviction from Grande Cache and Hinton in 1912. Despite the adversity, our people did continue living in the area, building homes, hunting and fishing, even farming. But encroachment continued: William Switzer Provincial Park was created in 1958 and Willmore Wilderness Park in 1959. This removed more land. Today, the parks still contain and control sites with significant historical, cultural and ecological value.
In 1969 the Willmore Wilderness Park was reduced in size and the Town of Grande Cache was built. The modern world had arrived on the front doorstep, and the People had nowhere to go. The new town would have an adverse and permanent impact on our traditional way of life. As the town grew, hunting & trapping resources declined, while jobs became more technologically advanced. Most of the People did not adapt well to the rapid change in lifestyle and values. But, a strength within remained: despite overwhelming odds, and with no on-going financial support, the community formed the modern Aseniwuche Winewak Nation of Canada in 1994.
Since ancient times, different groups of Aboriginal people have traveled and lived in the rich, fertile slopes of the Rocky Mountains. There is archeological evidence of human civilization near modern-day Grande Cache from 14,000 years ago. At some time, the Aboriginal people in this area became known as Aseniwuche Winewak, Cree for “Rocky Mountain People”.
In 1910, Aboriginals in the Jasper area were evicted to create the National Park. Many moved to the area near present day Grande Cache, joining family already there. In 1969 the town of Grande Cache was built to facilitate the development of a coal mine. Many traditional sites, homes and grave sites were destroyed, and a legacy of loss began. Most of our People did not adjust well to the different lifestyles and value system. Issues such as unemployment, widespread social discord, poverty and alcoholism grew. The community problems arose from lack of education, training and economic opportunity. We were separated by cultural understanding and geography (designated land areas are isolated). The Aseniwuche Winewak Nation was formed in part to overcome these barriers.