I was driving home enjoying the beautiful scenery when I came upon Two Rivers Ranch and Stoney Medicine Lodge.
This sprawling ranch, which was purchased by the Stoney Nation decades ago, sits in ruins.
The main building was not maintained by Stoney Tribal Administration. As a result, the building is now in disrepair. What was once a gorgeous office building and residential facility, is now boarded up.
The infrastructure that was Two Rivers Ranch has fallen apart. The arena where community rodeos were held has collapsed and corrals once filled with livestock, lay rotting.
It saddens me because I am reminded of the potential this place has and the vision my parents had.
My late father Kent Fox was the agriculture manager for Wesley First Nation in the early '90s. In that role, he worked to establish a ranching co-op for cattle owners at Two Rivers. I spent several summers working with Dad as he slowly transformed the land.
My father networked with Wesley administration to hire youth to repair the fences. He also had a crew picking rocks. The reason? He was going to plant grain feed and start harvesting hay. As this was taking place, he rented machinery including a rock picker and rototiller.
In the second year, Wesley First Nation purchased a tractor and farm equipment. That spring, he worked with his son-in-law to till the land and plant seeds. They also began clearing fields to harvest the natural hay.
Dad would say “October hay no good” and worked to harvest before October that first year and each year after that. Dad and his crew achieved a lot back then.
As the land was being prepared, Dad also had contractors assess the arena and barns for usability. He envisioned a fully functioning and independent cattle ranch for the Wesley First Nation and horse facility for Stoney Medicine Lodge.
The ranch would have allowed Wesley cattle owners to keep their cattle at Two Rivers Ranch with owners helping to take care of their livestock.
Dad’s vision was rooted in supporting his wife and our community. My mother, Tina Fox, was a band councillor whose work was primarily in health and wellness. As chairperson at Stoney Medicine Lodge, she and her committee wanted equine therapy to be part of the treatment program. As her husband, Dad worked to make that a reality.
I was reminded about those days as I drove past Two River Ranch and Stoney Medicine Lodge. After my mother lost the election of 1994, all progress at this ranch seemed to stop. The tractors and farm equipment were sold, and the band returned to contracting area ranchers to harvest the natural hayfields.
As I reflect, I feel a sense of pride that my parents worked together on their vision for the Wesley community. It made me realize that as Native people we are often community minded. Unfortunately, non-Stoney executives have not focused on ranches or addictions in the last 20 years.
Two Rivers just sits there now wasting away ...
Tatâga Thkan Wagichi is a member of the Wesley First Nation, Stoney Nakoda Nation. A doctoral student in education at the University of Calgary, his focus is on the history of the Stoney Nakoda people and development of the Iyethka language. Author of the book Nakota Community, he is also a regular columnist for the Cochrane Eagle and Rocky Mountain Outlook.