Narrative map on a bison hide tells the tale of the Calgary Stampede in a new way

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The story of the Calgary Stampede, told from a First Nations perspective on a narrative map that was painted and burned onto a bison hide. (Adrian Stimson - image credit)

The story of the Calgary Stampede is being told in a new way — by being mapped on a bison hide.

Adrian Stimson, a Blackfoot artist, tells the Stampede story from a First Nations perspective with a new exhibit that was unveiled at the Glenbow Museum during an online event Friday night.

He created the narrative map by painting and burning images onto the bison hide, which represent stories of First Nations people and their involvement in the Stampede from its inception.

The images are in a spiral shape, which is a Blackfoot tradition for this type of visual storytelling which depicts events over both space and time.

"Some of the events are pretty close to where they occurred; others are a little sort of skewed," Stimson told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"But it also plays with notions of time, and how we see time, and how through time, things change."

Stimson said "it was a little challenging" working with a hide as a canvas but he learned some techniques from Indigenous artists in Australia, who use a burning technique to create images on possum hides, which he combined with leather paint and ochre to create the story map.

The stories on the map include those of the early Stampede princess pageants and how First Nations became involved in that annual tradition, when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited the Stampede in 1959 and the Calf Robe Bridge commemoration.

The piece is part of a larger art series called the Calgary Atlas Project.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener