Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of LifeHome


Trading with our neighbours, Collection of Glenbow Museum

How we Lived with Other People

How we Lived with Other First Nations

Living with other beings

We respected the gifts and abilities of the plants, animals, and spirits of our world. Rather than try to dominate these other beings, we found ways to coexist with them.

omahkai’stoo (raven); ksisikstaki (beaver) ponoka (elk)

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Omahkai’stoo (raven)

Ponoka (elk)

Ksisststaki (beaver)

Trading with Our Neighbours

Our territory had everything we needed. We lived with our neighbours just as we lived with all of Creation. We were not interested in forcing our way of life on our neighbours. We traded with them to develop good relationships with people who lived nearby. Still, we did not let anyone enter our territory without our permission.

Trading with our neighbours, Collection of Glenbow Museum

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Collection of Glenbow Museum

Our Trading Ceremony

We innaihtsookakihtsimaan (made peace treaties) before we began to trade. These treaties ensured that the trade was done in a spirit of goodwill. We exchanged gifts as a sign of friendship.

We smoked a pipe and asked the Creator to witness the treaty and help everyone live up to their responsibilities.


Using Sign Language

First Nations people speak many different languages. Before Europeans arrived, we talked to each other by using sign language.

Using Sign Language

Collection of Glenbow Museum

Aiksikksiksi (Bitterroot)

Aiksikksiksi (Bitterroot) is a plant that grows on the west side of the mountains. It was an important part of our diet. To collect it we had to travel far and enter someone else's territory. Instead of doing this, we traded buffalo meat and hides for bitterroot.

Bitterroot, Collection of Glenbow Musem

Collection of Glenbow Museum


Although we had plenty of stone in our own territory to make into tools, we sometimes traded for special kinds of stone. Obsidian is volcanic glass and has very sharp edges. It came to us from people who lived in Wyoming and on the northwest coast.

Obsidian, Collection of Glenbow Museum

Collection of Glenbow Museum

Ponokaomitaa (Horses)

Our people always remembered the small horses that were once here, but had disappeared . When the Ponokaomitaa (horses) came back they were much bigger and we called them "elk-dogs" because they were big like elks but were useful like dogs. We traded buffalo hides and meat with our neighbours in exchange for horses.

Horses Ponokaomitaa (Horses)

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