This year, Indian Village moves to ENMAX Park. The 26 tipis represent the five nations of Treaty 7: Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani. Each tipi has a unique design on the outside. Approximately 500 people will live in Indian Village during the 10 days, with daily performances adding another 1,000 people per day. More than 40 competitions and events take place in Indian Village during the July Stampede.
We caught up with tipi owner Noran Calf Robe whose family has been attending the Calgary Stampede for more than 100 years.
Visitors to Indian Village may recognize recurring tipis and owners year-after-year. The tipi painted with a buffalo belongs to the Calf Robes and has been a part of the Calgary Stampede from the beginning.
Ben Calf Robe, an employee of the Northwest Mounted Police, liaised with Stampede founder Guy Weadick on the very first Calgary Stampede in 1912. Weadick invited the Calf Robes to camp at Indian Village that year.
“My grandfather was kind of like an interpreter,” Noran Calf Robe, Ben’s grandson, said. “He went to school and lot of Siksika people at that time didn’t speak English. Before he was a chief of council, he interpreted for the chief of council doing business deals and things like that.”
Since 1912, the Calf Robes are a mainstay and Noran says he’s been to Stampede every summer since he was born.
Passing down the tipi from father to son has been a strong tradition for the Calf Robe’s and Noran says it’s an intricate process with a big ceremony. He says his father, Ed, became the tipi owner around 1979 when Ben passed away, and in 2014, the tipi was passed on to Noran.
“When [the tipi] was passed on to me, we had a ceremony [at Siksika Nation] in 2014,” Noran said. “When I decide to pass it down to my son, we’ll have another ceremony. We do things according to our tradition. The songs and the stories…People witness this and know ‘he’s the rightful owner to this tipi design’.”
The Calf Robes have more family ties to the Calgary Stampede – 2014 Indian Princess Carly Weasel Child is Noran’s cousin and was a great representative for the Siksika nation and Blackfoot people.
The First Nations culture is full of traditions and incredibly vibrant, something Noran said he’s proud to share, but he wants the real stories to be told to help change the common misconceptions surrounding First Nations people.
“My personal goal is trying to get away from the Hollywood aspect of how people perceive natives. I would like [Indian Village visitors] come away with learning what the true culture is and the traditions,” he said.
The new location for Indian Village has nearly three times the green space of the previous location, with more park space for gathering and room to play. “The layout looks good and it’ll make things better and roomier,” Noran said. “We look forward to [the new location].”