by Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(Lethbridge) – A Blackfoot Naming Ceremony was held at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (SAAG) on Friday, October 23, 2020.
The event began with a Treaty and Metis land acknowledgment. “We would like to acknowledge that the Southern Alberta Art Gallery is located on Treaty 7, as well as Métis Region 3, the traditional territory of the Blackfoot Confederacy, a historic collective name of the four bands that make up the Blackfoot or Blackfeet people: Siksika (Blackfoot), Kainai (Blood), Northern Piegan (Piikani), and Southern Piegan (Blackfeet, Montana). We also acknowledge the Stoney Nakota, Tsuu’tina, Inuit and Métis peoples of this area.”
The ceremony was then led by Elder Bruce Wolf Child and First Nations Education, Language & Cultural Consultant and Elder Mary Fox, and the SAAG was greatly honoured to receive the Blackfoot name Maansiksikaitsitapiitsinikssin.
“The SAAG Board of Directors and Staff are extremely grateful that the gallery was gifted with a Blackfoot name by local Kainai Elders, and we are committed to our journey of living into this name,” stated SAAG Executive Director Kristy Trinier. “We are honoured to share the Blackfoot name and its meaning with our community.”
The name Maansiksikaitsitapiitsinikssin connects the Blackfoot language words: maan it is new, siksikaitsitapii (of) our Blackfoot people, tsinikssin relating stories through the process of images and writings.
On the occasion of receiving Maansiksikaitsitapiitsinikssin, local Kainai artist Bryce Singer was commissioned to create a limited series of commemorative artwork prints.
Maansiksikaitsitapiitsinikssin can be interpreted as the new making of images, related to the telling of the Blackfoot peoples’ stories.
The name is well suited to SAAG and its leaders are honoured by the ceremony.
Maansiksikaitsitapiitsinikssin describes contemporary art as the new process of making images and writings, related to the telling of ancient stories by Blackfoot people within Blackfoot territory: a continuation across time in the sharing of knowledge, culture, and history across southern Alberta.
“In prioritizing the health and safety of our community,” explained Trinier, “the Blackfoot Naming Ceremony took place with limited invitation-only capacity and precautionary measures, to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.
“We plan to have a celebration with the greater community in the future when it is safe to do so.”
Click here to view the photo gallery of this very special ceremony.