Calgary Stampede’s Indian Village celebrates the Treaty 7 Nations – at Enmax Park until July 15

The new Indian Village at the 2016 Calgary Stampede. Photo by Terry Lusty

by Madeline Babinec

(Calgary Stampede) – Taste traditional fried bannock, purchase Indigenous beaded jewellery or hand-painted art, discover the insides of family tipis, listen to traditional storytelling and watch dancers compete in full regalia all at the Indian Village – one of the outstanding flagship features at the Calgary Stampede, taking place in Calgary from July 6 – 15.

And after several years of discussion, the village is about to get a name change. The new name will be announced on Sunday July 15 and although the name will change to reflect current terminology and positive inclusive moves embracing reconciliation, the relationship between the Treaty 7 families and the Calgary Stampede will continue to be as strong as ever. 

For more than 100 years, Indian Village has promoted and preserved the relationship between the Calgary Stampede and Treaty 7 families. 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 and beadwork, buckskin outfits and artifacts are displayed on the inside. Every day during the Calgary Stampede, there are open tipis that allow guests to enter and explore. Family members are happy to visit and explain their artifacts and traditions.

New for 2018, the Arts & Crafts area has been transformed into an outdoor shopping promenade experience. Every vendor has unique pieces, often hand-made and hand-designed – but if you see something, you better act fast because not all vendors stay for all 10 days. New vendors can be seen moving in throughout Stampede, so be sure to check back frequently to see different offerings.

Powwow at the Calgary Stampede – Indian Village. Photo Credit: Shaun Robinson / Calgary Stampede

The Blackfoot Rocks & Gems booth sells Alberta Ammolite, which one of the province’s unique gems that are millions of years old and very colourful. The booth owners are happy to share the history of these precious rocks with visitors.

Walking along the Arts & Crafts street, you can catch artists like Keegan Starlight working on arts pieces. “I really enjoy live painting, I like when people can see the process,” Starlight explains. “Sometimes I invite others to join me to paint, and they sometimes feel intimidated, like they don’t have an idea. But once you start painting, the ideas flow.” Starlight’s piece below is a reflection of all that you need – air, earth, food and water.

If your appetite has been worked up, the Bannock Booth serves up hot, fresh bannock every day. With new twists on the traditional food, guests can enjoy bannock plain, with jam, with cheese, as a taco and even as a breakfast sandwich.

Once you have your bannock, settle in to the green grass in front of the stage to witness traditional dances in the Pow Wow competitions throughout the week. This year, Indian Village is excited to introduce the Cowboy Special. The Cowboy Special incorporates traditional cowboy culture with Indigenous cultures, and showcases beautifully how both cultures can be bridged together. Every dancer must wear a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, in addition to their own regalia that often features custom beadwork, feathers and more. The Cowboy Special takes place this Saturday, July 14 in the afternoon, and is an event not to be missed.

Indian Village has been a major part of the Calgary Stampede since the inception in 1912. It’s a great way for visitors to experience the traditions and culture of Canadian First Nations firsthand. Still have a question? The Interpretive Guides are always eager to chat, and are all extremely knowledgeable as some have grown up in Indian Village as part of tipi families.

Madeline Babinec is a communications adviser for Calgary Stampede.

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