Indian Princess alumna Amelia Crowshoe on the tradition of tipi design and the University of Calgary Campfire Chat

 

On Tuesday, June 21, National Aboriginal Day, the University of Calgary will present its inaugural Campfire Chat on St. Patrick’s Island. This will be a special event where the community can learn and experience our heritage and First Nations traditions. In addition to a talk by Elder Reg Crowshoe about the aboriginal history of our region, Stampede Indian Princess alumna, Amelia Crowshoe and her family will paint her tipi. We talked to Amelia about the tradition of tipi design and how her experience as Indian Princess has impacted her life. (Read more about the University of Calgary’s Campfire Chat after the interview!)

Calgary Stampede: Your tipi will be painted at the Campfire Chat–Why is your tipi being painted?

Amelia Crowshoe: My grandfather is transferring the tipi design to me. He had a dream about this design and surprised me a couple of months ago with the news that he would be transferring the design to me. In Blackfoot tradition, you can obtain a tipi design in a number of ways: a dream (from creator or spirit world); it can be passed down through the family; or you can approach someone for a transfer of a design.

Tipi painting 4

CS: Can you tell us about the tradition of tipi design?

AC: The Blackfoot people are one of few that still do tipi design transfer. Each design is special to the owners and each design has a story. The stories are sort of privileged information and there is a process to learn about the design. If you want to hear the story of the design, you make an offering to the owner—like tobacco—to honour the information and sharing of the story.

There are common themes in tipi designs. The top of the tipi represents the stars and constellations that are important to our people. The story of the design is told in the middle. At the bottom, the designs symbolize where the story took place. A flat line represents the prairies, bumps represent the foothills and peaks represent the mountains.

Tipi painting 3

On some designs there is a cross at the back that represents the moth. This indicates that the design came from a dream.

Different symbols indicate that the design is from the spirit world or from one of our origin or foundational stories.

CS: What is it like to paint a tipi?

AC: To paint a tipi in the right way, you have to be transferred the rite to paint a design. This is a process that we follow in our culture where the knowledge is passed in a way that maintains the integrity of the practice. In our family, my grandpa designs the tipi. He stretches out the tipi canvas, creates the design the way that he was transferred, and then we paint it as a family. It’s such a large undertaking but once you finish and set it up, it’s so amazing to see the work on the canvas. It’s an honouring of the stories of our people.

It’s special to me that I have been witness to a cultural practice that not a lot of people do anymore.

Tipi painting _2

CS: What will you be painting on your tipi and why?

AC: We will be painting a dragonfly design. It was a big shock to hear that my grandfather was transferring this design to me. When you get a tipi you always have a home, no matter where you are or where you will be.

My mom, sister and I were given a tipi design when I was young –but it’s a big deal to have a tipi design of my own. Having a tipi of my own is considered a rite of passage in our culture. I will have the privilege of taking care of the design and passing it on to my children or whomever it belongs to next.

CS: Where will your tipi go once it is painted?

AC: Most people only see tipis set up during Stampede in Indian Village. They don’t understand that these are our homes traditionally. When we have family gatherings, or if we want to camp out we set up tipis. We live in them when we go to sacred ceremonies. We set them up whenever we can.

Tipi painting

CS: Has your experience as the Indian Princess impacted your life in the years that followed?

AC: Big time. My year as the Indian Princess still follows me around, which is a good thing. I feel really honoured to have been the Indian Princess during the Centennial. The experience taught me a lot about myself and gave me lots of confidence. Living as a First Nations woman in Calgary, I am able to educate others about my people, our culture and build positive relationships.

The public speaking experience, in particular, has been a huge asset in my job. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I was hired!

CS: And what are you up to these days?

AC: I’m the communications coordinator for the Alberta First Nations Governance Centre which is a First Nations data and research organization.

CS: Have you heard about the new Indian Village in ENMAX Park?

AC: Yes, I’m really excited to see it. I grew up in the Indian Village at the south end of the Park, so I was a little sad to see it move, but I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the new space.

The University of Calgary’s Campfire Chat is part of their 50th anniversary celebration this year. It is going to be a very special way to recognize and celebrate National Aboriginal Day. Below is a schedule of the day’s events. If you would like to attend the chat by Elder Reg Crowshoe, make sure you register on their website.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 1-8 p.m.

St. Patrick’s Island
1300 Zoo Road NE (access via 12 St. SE in Inglewood)
Rain or shine

AFTERNOON – Family-friendly event (come and go)

1 p.m. Triple tipi-raising
2 p.m. Tipi-painting demonstration
3 p.m. Traditional drumming and dancing supported by the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary

EVENING – RSVP required

6:30 p.m. Campfire chat with Reg Crowshoe, former chief of
Piikuni First Nation

 

10 things to see and do at Stampede 2016

Axe throwing, deep fried tequila shots, a 45-foot tall spinning ride, an international pavilion, a fire-lit tight-rope walker and a beautiful, new, 16-acre park are just a few of the new offerings to check out this Stampede. What’s your Stampede thing?

1. Ride the Stampede’s new ride

A new ride means a new opportunity for challenging yourself and your friends; Spin Out is a 45-foot tall rotating claw that spins you in every way imaginable – including spinning while you’re hanging upside down! For information on our other rides and ride packages, check out: http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/attractions/midway

Spin Out

Spin Out

 

2. Watch rescue dogs perform jaw-dropping tricks at the Dog Bowl

These rescue dogs and dogs adopted from shelters, of multiple sizes and breeds, prove that you can do anything you set your mind to, and overcome any obstacles in your way; watch as these dogs defy gravity through freestyle Frisbee disc, flyball racing and high jumping agility demonstrations. Be sure to stay until the end of the show for the exhilarating dock diving act. Canine Stars will motivate you to go home and train your pooch a new trick or two.

The Dog Bowl will feature six shows daily with room for more than 2,000 dog lovers per show. Daily shows are at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. In addition, on Suncor Family Day and BMO Kids’ Day, the first show will be at 10:30 a.m. Sneak-A-Peek on Thursday, July 7 will feature two shows at 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Canine Stars

Canine Stars

 

3. Relax by the river in Indian Village’s new home in the brand new ENMAX Park

Stampede Park’s newest green space, a beautiful inner city public park and gathering space, is the new home to Indian Village presented by Penn West. Located by the MacDonald Entry, and across the bridge from Kids’ Midway, you can experience a number of activities at Indian Village including daily dance demonstrations and  tipi raising competitions, cooking demonstrations over a an open fire, and traditional arts and crafts created by Treaty 7 artisans. Don’t forget that the Bannok Booth has also moved with Indian Village to ENMAX Park so be sure to grab some doughy goodness and relax and enjoy it on the lush green grass.

Indian Village’s first event, the Opening Ceremonies and Camp Moving Ceremony on Friday, July 8, the first day of the 2016 Calgary Stampede.

Indian Village has moved to beautiful ENMAX Park!

Indian Village has moved to beautiful ENMAX Park!

Continue reading

Meet Allison Healy, Tipi Owner from the Blood Tribe (Kainai Nation)

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.

In part two of a five part series, we speak with a tipi owner from each of the five tribes of Treaty 7. Today’s blog post is a chat with Allison Healy of Kainai Nation.

After celebrating their 30th year at Indian Village presented by PennWest last summer, the Healy family will once again set up their tipi, adorned with yellow and green paint featuring a water serpent, along with elk and deer. In what started through a family connection, Allison Healy and her family are regulars and very involved.

Allison’s late husband, Earl, started helping at Indian Village in the early 1980s. Once an opening for a new tipi owner came up, Earl and the Healys took it.

“We had a relative who was one of the tipi owners so my husband helped with set up… for a couple of years,” Allison Healy said. “My husband wanted to be a tipi holder and start camping there. This was after our relative had quit so he took over.” Continue reading

Meet Noran Calf Robe, Indian Village Tipi Owner from Siksika Nation

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. Continue reading

2015 Aboriginal Awareness Family Day Festival and Pow Wow Competition

IMG_0046

The 2015 National Aboriginal Week festivities included an exciting full day of cultural exchange on Stampede Park. On Saturday, June 20, Indian Village hosted a family day Pow Wow. For First Nations peoples, the Pow Wow is a chance to connect with family and old friends, in addition to making new friends.

IMG_0050

The day began with a free pancake breakfast, followed by the grand entry and opening remarks, a pow wow, Métis jigging and hoop dancing. Former Grand National Chief Phil Fontaine, and the comedian Don Burnstick also spoke to the crowds. 

IMG_0048

Pictured: a buffalo float contribution to the 2015 Parade. The first Stampede Parade took place on September 2, 1912. It was lead by 1,800 Treaty 7 First Nations people in full regalia. Today, it’s one of the largest parades in North America, second only to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

 

 

 

IMG_0209

Pictured: Indian Princesses-in-training practicing their fancy dance moves.

Continue reading

Spotlight on: Indian Village

One of the most popular attractions during the Calgary Stampede, the Indian Village combines an insight into the colourful heritage of the Plains Indians and a chance to relax in a beautiful park setting.

The Indian Village has been a major part of the Stampede since its inception in 1912.

The First Nations People at Indian Village represent the five tribes, the Siksika, Tsuu T’ina, Nakoda (Stoney), Piikani (Peigan), and Kainai (Blood) of Treaty 7.

Native Interpreters are available to guide visitors through the Indian Village to explain the traditional demonstrations including native dance, games, meat cutting skills and much more.

Located at the south end of Stampede Park, tipis are open for inspection daily, affording guests the opportunity to observe the Indian lifestyles of many years ago, and various events and activities are scheduled throughout the 10 days of the festival ensuring that there’s always something to see and do.

Continue reading