This year, Indian Village moves to ENMAX Park. The 26 tipis represent the five nations of Treaty 7: Kainai, Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda, Siksika and Piikani. Each tipi has a unique design on the outside. Approximately 500 people will live in Indian Village during the 10 days, with daily performances adding another 1,000 people per day. More than 40 competitions and events take place in Indian Village during the July Stampede.
In part two of a five part series, we speak with a tipi owner from each of the five tribes of Treaty 7. Today’s blog post is a chat with Allison Healy of Kainai Nation.
After celebrating their 30th year at Indian Village presented by PennWest last summer, the Healy family will once again set up their tipi, adorned with yellow and green paint featuring a water serpent, along with elk and deer. In what started through a family connection, Allison Healy and her family are regulars and very involved.
Allison’s late husband, Earl, started helping at Indian Village in the early 1980s. Once an opening for a new tipi owner came up, Earl and the Healys took it.
“We had a relative who was one of the tipi owners so my husband helped with set up… for a couple of years,” Allison Healy said. “My husband wanted to be a tipi holder and start camping there. This was after our relative had quit so he took over.” The Healys have been coming back to Indian Village since 1985. However, after Earl’s death, the family’s driving force in attending Stampede each summer was gone.
“My husband passed away in 2006 and I was going to quit then, but my children wanted to keep going,” Allison said.
She also noted it’s a tradition likely to stay in the family and get passed down through generations.
“It’s good to have all tribes there and making friends. We have a lot of friends who come over to see us at the Stampede. I like that part, meet friends, meet new people – the tourists that come from different parts of the world,” Allison said.
The Indian Village is a huge draw to tourists from outside of North America, and they often have questions for the First Nations members at Indian Village.
“For instance, they think we’re living in these tipis year round,” Allison said. “They ask ‘how do you keep warm in the winter?’ Everything is so new to them and we explain it. They ask questions about the painting, how many people can sleep in tipis.”
However, as the Indian Village residents do sleep in the Village for more than 10 days during Stampede, Allison said nights are quiet, but things pick up early in the mornings.
“Lots of horse riders have to get up to get their horses ready,” Allison said. “There’s a lot of work in the morning.”
Since first becoming part of the Indian Village more than three decades ago, Allison has upped her involvement is now tasked to find judges from the five tribes for the tipi inspection contest.
This year’s Calgary Stampede Indian Princess, Vanessa Stiffarm, is a member of the Blood Tribe and contacted Allison before she applied this year. Allison said it’s great to have the Indian Princess represent her tribe.
“She approached me that she was running for the competition. Right away, I just knew she is so capable, and I was so proud to be able to sponsor her,” Allison said.
Allison saw the new ENMAX Park location for Indian Village back in January, but it was covered in snow so she’s yet to see it. She said, “It’s a new place, so we’ll have to experience it this year.” One thing’s for sure: She’s excited about the potential
Previous interviews with tipi owners: http://www.calgarystampede.com/blog/2016/04/06/meet-noran-calf-robe-indian-village-tipi-owner-from-siksika-nation/