Canada is rich with history and culture of the first indigenious people to the country.
However, over the years other cultures and views have shaped Canada into a multicultural nation and may of the traditions and history of the Natives have disappeared through the cracks. The Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park is designated to help keep the memories, stories and history of the Blackfoot people alive.
The Blackfoot people are part of the Siksika Nation which is part of the Blackfoot
Confederacy. For clarification, "Siksika" translates to "Blackfoot" in English and therein we may interchangable use Siksika and Blackfoot. The Confederacy extends south and includes the Piikani and the Kainaiwa of southern Alberta and the Blackfeet of Montana. The Siksika Nation consist of 6000 members and in the future may be part of a self-government structure that is currently being developed. Currently they are governed by a chief and 12 council memebers chosen for a 2 year period.
Siksika Nation was the first nation to have a Coat of Arms chosen and registered with the Heraldic Authority of Canada. The symbol in their Coat of Arms included a buffalo as it symbolized basic needs being provided to the people such as shelter, clothing and food. Also included is an arrow broken into 7 pieces, a medicine pipe, the Tomahawk and the circles. The arrow is symbolic of the societies within the tribe including Ma'tsiyiiks, The Horn, Crow, Prairie Chicken, Brave Dog, Motoki and Black Soldier. The medicine pipe represents peace. The Tomahawk is representative as a weapon of was ("which was put to rest forever") and finally the circles symbolize Chief Crowfoot and the duration of him signing Treaty No. 7.
The Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park is built on an important location in the Blackfoot people's history. It is the location of the historical signing of Treay No. 7 in 1877 and is now designated as a National Heritage Site. The treaty opened up 50, 000 square miles of the occupied Native land to the Crown which allowed the Canadian Pacific Railway to develop the railroad. Had this treaty not been signed, the railroad may have not been built and the land may have still belonged to the Siksika people.
There were 5000 people parked at the Blackfoot Crossing and Cheif Crowfoot spoke on behalf of them. It was a tremendous moment in the Blackfoot Confederacy history. The signing of the treating between the Crown and the Blackfoot Confederacy was in hope of establishing peaceful relations and ensuring the survival of the history of the Siksika people.
For 10, 000 years, the Blackfoot people occupied the ragion from British Columbia to Saskatchewan and the stories of their lives and of their ancestors are all commemorated within this historical park. Inside you find the lower level all done to put you in the mindset as if you were living with the Blackfoot people years and years ago. There are teepee sites set up with animated voices telling stories. You can views their traditional dress wear and old pictures and read stories on the previous chiefs, red stone pipes for smoking tobacco and other unique elements specific to the Blackfoot people. The historical park also plans to preserve the final teepee location of Cheif Crowfoot, the Earthlodge village, Treaty Seven Flats and other historical important sites to the Siksika Nation.
Overall I would say we had a positive experience at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. Although we went on a Saturday, due to the out of the way location of the park, we nearly had the entire place to ourselves.
The downstairs is really a well put together museum showing the history and struggles of the Blackfoot people. Photography is unfortunately not allowed on the downstairs level. The rest of the building continues to flatter with its massive curved glass outer wall.
The outdoors was an unfortunate disappointment though. There are really no signs or trail markers signifying if there is actually anything in the forest or if you are just aimlessly wandering around. The first portion you come across is a section of tepees, while they were impressive to admire, the fire pit in the center still had partially burnt plastic toys and all sorts of random junk in it from a recent fire. The trail leading down looked to be heavily eroded from many past rains. Wheel chair access would be very questionable at best for the rear outdoor portion.
Overlooking the outside portion, the Blackfoot Crossing has done a great job modernizing the building and bringing some awareness to the history and life of the Blackfoot People.
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