Indigenous History

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.

On Saturday, February 17, the Galt Museum & Archives is starting a second series of the Indigenous History Program at the Galt. Rebecca Many Grey Horses has been researching Blackfoot history and has created six weeks of lessons on various topics including Blackfoot historical figures, the legacy of residential schools and Blackfoot legends. This program is a community resource for individuals who want 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 Saturday Indigenous History program is best suited for individuals over 15 years of age and will run every Saturday from February 7 to March 24 from 10 am until noon. No registration is required for this hands-on history series. Admission fees apply.

ArticleGraham RuttanComment