Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of LifeHome

 

Onto the Prairies

How we lived with the Land

Onto the Prairies

As the days grew longer, we watched the plants for signs that the cold weather had passed. The greening grass and budding plants drew buffalo onto the plains from their winter homes in the wooded valleys and foothills. We moved away from our winter campsites and onto the plains.

Men Hunting

Our men were usually away from camp, hunting for buffalo, dee,r and elk. These were the best animals to eat. The men also kept watch for any intruders into our territory.
Men Hunting

Three Peigan chiefs on horseback, 1900, Edward S. Curtis, Glenbow Archives NA-1700-139

Glenbow Archives NA-17000139


Collecting Camas Roots

Camas roots were important sources of starch and also sweetened our food. They were collected and dried for the winter.
Collecting Camas Roots

Buffalo Herds

Buffalo moved onto the plains from the river valleys and foothills, and began to gather into large herds.
Buffalo Herds


Women Preparing Hides

Women spent more time preparing buffalo, deer, and elk hides as the warmer weather allowed for more outdoor activity.

Cleaning and tanning hides took a long time. It was difficult work and required a lot of skill and patience. Women often worked together, making it a social occasion. Women were always working with the hides, preparing them and making clothing or tipi covers.
Women Preparing Hides

Blood woman tanning hide at Blood reserve, 1931, T. Reiss, Glenbow Archives NA-5425-137; Blood woman, southern Alberta, treating hide, 1904, Glenbow Archives NA-2313-16

Glenbow Archives NA-5425-137

Glenbow Archives NA-2313-16


Niinainsskaahkoyinnimaan
(Thunder Medicine Pipe Ceremony)

With the sound of the first thunder, the Niinainsskaahkoyinnimaan (Thunder Medicine Pipe ceremonies) were held and Thunder was called upon to bring good weather, plenty of rain, and a good year to the people. Read the story about Thunder to learn more.
Tipi

Beaver Ceremony

Beaver ceremonies were held as the ice left the rivers. These ceremonies reminded us that we are connected with all of Creation. Read the story about the beavers to learn more.
Tipi


Drying Meat

Buffalo meat was dried by slicing it into thin strips which were draped over poles. The sun quickly dried the meat.
Drying Meat

Blood woman drying meat, ca.1920s, Glenbow Archives NA-879-5; Camp of Piegan (USA), Montana, meat drying on racks, ca. 1890s, Glenbow Archives NA-1463-51 Smoking meat, ca. early 1900s, Glenbow Archives NA-3322-22

Glenbow Archives NA-879-5

Glenbow Archives NA-3322-22

Glenbow Archives NA-1463-51


Buffalo Berries

When the buffalo berries bloomed we knew that the buffalo bulls were leaving their winter grounds for the summer range. Bulls are only prime food for a short period of time in the spring. Their meat gets tougher and doesn’t taste as good over the summer as they get ready to rut (mate).
Buffalo Berries

Weasels and Rabbits

As the weather warmed, the animals moved onto the plains from the wooded valleys and hills. Aapaikai (weasels) and aaataistaiks (rabbits) change colour from white to brown. This is another sign of spring.
Tipi


Parfleche

Kayis (dry meat) and berries were stored in rawhide containers such as this.
Parfleche

Parfleche, early 20th century, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum


 

"This is the time of year when the Saskatoon berries ripen. Often, the nearby coulees have big crops and we don't have to move. This spring, it has been dry here and there are not many berries. They are more abundant further to the north."
Moving camp

 

"The berries are too far away for us to travel and return to camp each day. We have decided to move our camp closer to where there are lots of berries."
Moving camp


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