photo: Selina Vesely

Aboriginal Immersion at the Calgary Stampede’s Indian Village

By Craig Moy

The Calgary Stampede isn’t just about cowboy culture. It’s also a place to honour Alberta’s Indigenous peoples. Families representing the Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani First Nations have erected an Indian Village at the Stampede every year since its inception in 1912. They reside in 26 distinctive tipis for the event’s duration, inviting visitors to enter and learn about Aboriginal beliefs and customs. By agreement of the tipi owners, the antiquated name of the Village is retained to recognize that, in its early years, it was one of the few safe spaces for the public practice of First Nations culture. (The federal Indian Act sought to suppress Aboriginal traditions for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.)

In 2016, the Village moved to the more historically significant Enmax Park: The site was an encampment during the heyday of Fort Calgary. Visit the contemporary Indian Village from July 6 to 15 for an Indigenous immersion—with everything from traditional games and powwows to elder storytelling and youth dance performances.