The Calgary Stampede has a long and storied history with First Nations and in fact, bucked the law and included them in their first Stampede over a century ago, a relationship that continues to this day. This year, they moved the location of the Indian Village — and what an impressive move it was.
Warren Connell, the CEO of the Calgary Stampede, said the new location has historical significance as a traditional encampment site. He noted that when the first Indian Village was established in 1912, it was “the only place in Canada” at the time where First Nations could legally speak their language, perform ceremonies and involve their children in their culture.
“It was actually against the law back then,” he said. “Guy Weadick managed to have the Stampede excluded from that, so 3,600 families descended on the first Stampede in 1912, and the majority of our teepee owners are actually the descendants of those original families.”
The Stampede’s new site encompasses 16 acres, doubling the amount of space and is used for activities such as traditional dancing and food. It also allows for the Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, Stoney Nakoda and Tsuu T’ina teepees to be set up in a circle. Last September a blessing ceremony was held for the beautiful new inner city park and gathering place, which features the new Sweetgrass Lodge that provides an opportunity for year-round educational programming.
The Stampede has also once again included Treaty 7 members in the grand entry. Dressed in stunning regalia and impressive face paint, the six Warriors are a welcome addition to the sea of white hats.