Crowds a welcome sight again at teepee village for National Indigenous People’s Day

·2 min read

Southeast Albertans gathered at Saamis Employment and Training Association’s annual teepee village and powwow Tuesday, to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day.

The annual event has been running for more than 15 years, however this year’s celebration is the first since the beginning of the pandemic. Event organizers and performers were pleased with Tuesday’s turnout, which they estimate to be one of the largest crowds yet.

“It’s a wonderful turnout for the day,” SETA executive director Anita Wagar, whose Blackfoot name translates to Helping Woman, told the News. “I’m very pleased to share this with our community.

“We hold this event to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day every year as a way celebrate the culture and traditions of the Indigenous people of Canada. It’s now very significant for Truth and Reconciliation and is a part of healing Canada’s Indigenous people. So, we like to invite people to come out, celebrate the day and learn more about our culture.”

Event attendees were able to tour the teepee village, a collection of hand-painted teepees representing several tribes. They were also invited to listen as various speakers shared knowledge about Indigenous culture, traditions, histories and experiences. Drummers and dancers representing the Blackfoot Confederacy gave several performances, showcasing traditional Indigenous arts and dress.

“It’s more or less about sharing our culture, so people can see us in a different light,” said dancer Cindy Black, whose Indigenous name, Piitaakii, translates to Eagle Woman. “A lot of work we do is bridging the gaps, building relationships and having a positive representation of our people. So people can come out and enjoy the day with us, and celebrate and honour us as Indigenous people.”

Black explained National Indigenous Peoples Day is held June 21 because the summer solstice holds spiritual significance for many Indigenous peoples.

“This is considered our New Year’s,” she said.

Black and Wagar hope event attendees enjoyed the social and educational aspects of the day.

“Enjoy the teepee,” said Wager. “Enjoy the display and enjoy our culture. You can learn a lot from it.”

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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