Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of LifeHome

 

Fur Trade Posts, Collection of Glenbow Museum

How we Lived with Other People

Fur Traders

Naapiikoan (White People)

When the first fur traders came to our territory their behaviour was strange and not appropriate. We did not understand them or how they acted. They reminded us of the Napi stories. We called these newcomers Naapiikoan. We did not need what they had to trade us and we refused to travel the long distances to their forts.

Winter Count
1784 – When white men with short hair first came.

Winter Count 1784 - When white men with short hair first came. From Bull Plume's Winter Count, Collection of Glenbow Museum

From Bull Plume's Winter Count
Collection of Glenbow Museum


Selling Naama (Guns) to our Neighbours

We did not want these newcomers to trade with our neighbours. Still newcomers found ways across the mountains and sold naama (guns) to the Tu'naxa on the west side. The Tu'naxa attacked some of our Piikani camps and killed many of our people.

Winter Count
1811 – When we were driven in battle.

Winter Count 1811 - When we were driven in battle.  From Bull Plumes's Winter Count, Collection of Glenbow Museum

From Bull Plume's Winter Count
Collection of Glenbow Museum


Trading Posts

We welcomed the fur traders for the new tools they brought us. But we did not want them to build permanent forts in our territory. Their forts were built around the edges of our homeland.

Fur Trade Posts, Collection of Glenbow Museum

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Fur Trade Posts
Colleciton of Glenbow Museum


Aapiksssin (Smallpox)

The traders also brought some things that did not help us. We were struck by a major aapiksssin (smallpox) epidemic in 1837. Over 6,000 of our people died. This was two-thirds of our population.

Winter Count
1837 – Year of smallpox.

Winter Count 1837 - Year of smallpox. From Bull Plume's WinteráCount, Collection of Glenbow Museum

From Bull Plume's Winter Count
Collection of Glenbow Museum


Trade Goods

We changed many of the trade items we received. Akaisatstsaa (blankets) were sewn into hooded coats called capotes. Naama (gun) barrels were sawn off to make it easier to shoot on horseback. Barrel hoops were flattened into hide scrapers. Pieces of copper were flattened and rolled into cones. When these were hung on shirt and dress fringes they tinkled with a musical note.



Trade Goods, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum


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