- - Sunday, June 18, 2017

CALGARY, Alberta — Attracting over a million visitors annually, the Calgary Stampede bills itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.”

A favorite highlight of the yearly event, held for 10 days starting on the first Friday of July, is the chance for visitors to meet the people of the Treaty 7 First Nations, the Siksika and Piikani of the Blackfoot Nation, the Blood Tribe of the Kainai – BlackFoot Nation , the Bearspaw, Wesley, and Chiniki (all of the Stoney-Nakoda), and Tsuu T’ina  (Sarcee Nation).

Vaudeville promoter Guy Weadick created the first Stampede in 1912 inviting Alberta’s First Nation people, a people that lived in what the Cree called Wetaskiwin, which is translated as “place of peace” or “hill of peace”, long before Christopher Columbus, French, British or Spanish settlers ever set foot on Northern American soil.

Conflict between white settlers and First Nations people lasted until well into the 20th century. In their efforts to squash the native peoples heritage, the only time First Nation people were allowed to gather and celebrate their heritage was the yearly Calgary Stampede.

It was a chance to dress in native clothes, share their customs, and culture, and hopefully educate the white man that now inhabited their land.

Today, as they have in the past, the First Nations people invite visitors to walk through the First Nations Village and view the tipis and learn about their people, lives and culture.

The tipi village is more than a collection of curiosities. In order to understand the First Nations people is to understand that the tipi is one of the “sacred bundles,” or expressions of culture and faith, that help to guide them.

The designs painted on the tipi connect the people to the spirit beings in the world around them. The design protects the family inside and helps them to live happy, successful, and safe lives.

The right to use any of the tipi designs is a privilege and must be formally transferred in a ceremony.  You cannot just choose a design and paint it on a tipi.  The design must come in a vision quest or dream, interpreted by the tribe elders.

This year’s visitors will find arts-and-crafts outlets and the “bannock bread” booth at the Sweetgrass Lodge. Bannock, a flour and salt bread attributed to Scottish settlers, became a staple of the indigenous diet.

Among those you may meet in the tipi village is the 2016 Indian Princess Mootwistsiinaki (Savanna Sparvier). 

As the elected representative of the Treaty 7 tribes, Princess Mootwistsiinaki has attended events as an ambassador for young people for the last year, creating a positive image of her people and speaking about their lives. A new princess is chosen each year.

Visit the Glenbow Museum in Calgary to learn more about the tipi and the vibrant people of the First Nations.

The Calgary Stampede Coca-Cola music stage will feature Canadian icon and Grammy Award winner Nelly Furtado, Canadian alternative rock musical duo USS and American singer/songwriter and multi-Grammy Award winner Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals. Halifax singer Ria Mae, who mixes pop, alternative and folk styles, and Billboard chart-topper Alx Veliz from Toronto will bring their sounds to the stage. Accomplished singers Madi Allen, Cole Malone, Jana McDonald, Brad Saunders and Carmen Lucia wrap up the remainder of the festival lineup.

Jacquie Kubin is an award-winning travel and food writer and travel editor at Communities Digital News.

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IF YOU GO

Where: Calgary Stampede
Dates: July 7-17, 2017Address: 1410 Olympic Way SE, Calgary, AB | T2G 2W1
Phone: (403) 261-0101
General Admission: ages 13-64 $18, Seniors, ages 65 plus, $9. Children 7-12, $9 and children under seven are free. Calgary Stampede Rodeo, the Rangeland Rodeo, Grandstand Show, Musical Acts and the Stagecoach Race are price from $20-$200 depending on event, seats and nights chosen. Check the web site for exact prices.
Website: http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/tickets/rodeo

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INDIAN VILLAGE HISTORY

1912 – The first Indian Village at the Stampede was set up for six days. That first event involved about 1,800 First Nations people in attendance.

1923 – The Stampede became an annual event in July 1923. This year, the tipis were located by the entrance to the Sun Tree Park.

1950 – A misunderstanding concerning the way the Indian Village was to be run caused the Stoneys to boycott the Stampede. At this time there were supposed to be 30 tipis, 10 each from the Siksika, Stoney and Tsuu T’ina.

The 10 Stoney tipis were probably not missed too much because of the torrential rainstorms, which caused many problems with all the Stampede events. The rain was so bad in fact, that the media ran stories about the Stoney “rain dances”. The misunderstanding was cleared up after Stampede and the Stoney returned with their usual 10 tipis for the 1951 event

1960 – In the early 1960s, the Kainai and Piikani tribes were recognized as official Indian Village participants.

1965 – The Village was flooded and many personal items and artifacts were destroyed. The Stampede compensated individuals for their losses

1974 – The Stampede expanded and the Indian Village moved to its current location at the south end of Stampede Park, along the Elbow River.

1996 – The Wild West was the theme for the Stampede; the Council Tipi, the demonstrations, and the Interpretive programs that teach First Nation history made their first appearances at the Village.

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