The history of southern Alberta begins long before the traders, coal miners and settlers of Lethbridge. The rich history of the Blackfoot Peoples goes back for many years. The Niitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) is made up of four separate nations: the Kainai, Piikani, Siksika and the Amskapi Pikuni (Blackfeet in Montana). Their traditional territory took in much of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan as well as northern Montana. In this area, they would travel with the seasons, making summer and winter camps. Their travels would take them to the areas rich in food and medicinal sources that they would gather, as they followed the herds of buffalo for hunting. This territory contains many significant historical and cultural sites for the Blackfoot Peoples. The settlement of this land disrupted some of those traditional patterns. Reserves, residential schools and other government policies have left a difficult legacy for many Indigenous families. Yet despite that legacy, the Niitsitapi still have strong ties to the land and their cultural practices.
This fall, the Galt Museum & Archives and the Lethbridge Indigenous Service Network, Health and Wellness committee is starting a new Indigenous History Program at the Galt. Rebecca Many Grey Horses has been researching Blackfoot history and has created 10 lessons on various topics including Blackfoot historical figures, the legacy of residential schools and Blackfoot legends. This program is a community resource for individuals seeking to understand themselves or others. The program will be offered in the spirit of health, respect and truth, responding to our responsibility to learn our collective history and reconciliation. The Indigenous History program is best suited for individuals over 15 years of age and will run every Tuesday from October 10 to December 12 from 10:30 am until noon. No registration is required for this hands-on history series. Admission fees apply.