Glenbow at The EdisonHours

Niitsitapiisini

Our Way of Life

Exhibition
Overview

Discover the history, values and traditions of the people who have lived for thousands of years in the northwestern plains of Alberta and Montana. Here, the Blackfoot share their story in their own words; these displays and artifacts take you on a journey through Niitsitapi history up to the present day.

 

We call ourselves Niitsitapi, although we are known as the Blackfoot. This is our way of life. It is about how we lived with our families, the environment, and our neighbours. It is also about how these relationships are still important to us.

Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of Life opened in 2001

Niitsitapiisini: Our Way of Life was the result of a groundbreaking partnership between Glenbow Museum and the Blackfoot Confederacy. Eighteen Blackfoot elders worked with Glenbow staff to lead the design of the exhibition and infuse traditional knowledge and contemporary lived experiences into an innovative storytelling experience that shared the history and culture of the Blackfoot people. The exhibition has been an important cultural resource for Indigenous and non-Indigenous museum visitors for almost 20 years.

The Niitsitapiisini Blackfoot Gallery Committee started work in 1997. After four years of discussion, research and collaboration, the gallery opened in November 2001. The project team included:

Doreen Blackweasel (Amsskaapipikani), Tom Blackweasel (Amsskaapipikani), Andy Black Water (Kainaiwa), Jenny Bruised Head (Kainaiwa), Clifford Crane Bear (Siksika), Louise Crop Eared Wolf (Kainaiwa), Charlie Crow Chief (Kainaiwa), Rosie Day Rider (Kainaiwa), Carrie First Rider (Kainaiwa), Earl Old Person (Amsskaapipikani), Allan Pard (Apatohsipikani), Jerry Potts (Apatohsipikani), Pat Provost (Apatohsipikani), Pete Standing Alone (Kainaiwa) Jim Swag (Apatohsipikani), Donna Weaselchild (Siksika) Frank Weasel Head (Kainaiwa), Clarence Wolfleg (Siksika) and Herman Yellow Old Woman (Siksika).

How We Lived with the Land

Today we travel to nearby stores to buy food and other supplies. In the past our people saw all of their land as their home. They moved camp to be close to wood, or water, to take advantage of ripening berries and roots, and to follow the animals. Join us in our travels through one year.

Our Traditional Territory

Our traditional territory extended from Ponokasisahta (Elk River, now called the North Saskatchewan River) south to Otahkoitahtayi (the Yellowstone River). We lived along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and eastward beyond Omahskispatsikoyii (the Great Sand Hills in what is now called Saskatchewan). It is an immense land with some of the richest natural resources in the world.

We knew every detail of this land. Our people travelled constantly throughout it, and their trails were well marked across the grasslands. They lived by hunting game and collecting plants. By moving camp frequently, they were able to avoid depleting the resources in any one area. Our people knew the places where different plants grew and where game was plentiful. Their lives were nomadic, but their movements were not aimless; they always travelled with a purpose.

Visit the online companion website (available in English, French and Blackfoot) to learn more about the Story of the Blackfoot People

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