CULTURE – The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth otherwise known as the 2015 Calgary Stampede is here. Growing up in Treaty 7, the Stampede is kind of a big deal especially for the families from the Kainai Nation, Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, Tsuu Tina Nation and Stoney Nakoda Nations (Treaty 7) who participate in the 10 day event which showcase Blackfoot, Dene and Stoney cultures with the many tourists who visit the Indian Village. Located south of the Elbow River, the village offers a number of different activities.
A competition powwow, handgame demonstrations, and tipi raising contests are just a few things a tourist can experience at the Indian Village which includes Interpretive guides for those visitors who are dying to know a few things about the ‘indians’ and the different activities that are scheduled each day. Stampede Royalty including Indian Village Princesses, tipi owners, dancers, singers, and countless volunteers can be found on-site as many of them stay in the tipis and trailers during the 10 day event. This year marks a special occasion as it is the last time the Indian Village will be held in this location. The new location will be moved to the north side of the grounds and will house an administration/educational building, tipis and a stage area.
The best thing about the Calgary Stampede (in my books) is the history of the Indian Village. Founder Guy Weedick invited First Nations families to participate in 1912, during a time when ‘status indians’ were prohibited to leave the reserve and practice their spirituality according to a new treaty signed 35 years earlier. Participants had to get permission from the Indian agent in order to attend but this chance to celebrate their cultures was huge for many of these families who were able to not only bridge cross cultural barriers but to teach the next generation of family who now work in partnership with the Indian Events Committee to keep these traditions alive. While times have changed what remains true at this event, is the love of powwow and rodeo which brings out a number of the world’s toughest competitors including eight time Indian World Champion All Around Cowgirl Kassidy Dennison from the Navajo Nation, who is competing in what is known as the worlds richest rodeo.
The rodeo will also include fan favourite Ty Taypotat from Saskatchewan who is competing in the Bareback competition. The Calgary Stampede is also well known for the Rangeland Derby which features 36 chuckwagon drivers competing for $100,000.00 including former Chief Ray Mitsuing from Loon Lake Saskatchewan. Veteran champion outrider Shawn Calf Robe from the Siksika Nation is also competing with defending Rangeland Derby Champion Kurt Bensmiller, whose wagon is sponsored by Tsuu T’ina Nation.
Good luck to all participants and competitors. The Calgary Stampede wraps up on July 12, 2015 so for those of you who want to attend, you still have a few more days to check it out and possibly get a free pancake breakfast at the numerous businesses who are hosting them at many location throughout the city.
Stay safe and hydrated!
(Photos provided by Lana Water Chief, Karia Ayoungman & Lynn Calf Robe)