2017 celebrates the 105th year since First Nations of Treaty 7 have camped at the Calgary Stampede. This important relationship was an instrumental part of First Nations history as Guy Weadick, founder of the Stampede, partnered with First Nations people, such as Ben Calf Robe who held a major role in this process, to create the first Indian Village as a safe place to practice First Nations culture.

“The reason I know so much about my family’s history and culture today is because the Stampede allowed, and encouraged, my ancestors to practice their traditions on Stampede Park in an era where it was discouraged elsewhere,” explains Cindy Provost, Calgary Stampede board of directors.

Indian Village, 1989
Indian Village, 1989

In 1912, First Nations peoples were not allowed to celebrate their cultures on their own reserves because of Indian Act laws and regulations. The Stampede was one of the only places where First Nations peoples were welcomed to participate and celebrate their traditions publicly. As a result, the families who participated in Indian Village throughout the 20th century looked forward to coming to the Calgary Stampede annually.  They used this time to teach younger generations about their traditions to make sure their cultures lived on. It was only because of the special agreement that Guy Weadick and the Calgary Stampede made with the government that passes were given for First Nations participants to leave the reserve and attend the Stampede without fear of legal consequences.

“Most people today don’t realize the significance of Indian Village,” continues Provost, “as one of the only safe spaces for our culture – a place we’ve grown and developed in partnership with the Stampede, a place where we have accomplished so much and continue to look forward to what it could provide for future generations.”

Guy Weadick and Cappy Smart
Guy Weadick and Cappy Smart

Indian Village is organized through efforts of volunteers on the Indian Events committee, Stampede employees and the tipi families who camp at the Village during the Stampede. There is constant consultation about the name of the Village and if it should be changed.

The tipi owners have indicated that Indian Village is a place and a name with great historical significance and honours the role of Guy Weadick and the relationship with the Stampede throughout the twentieth century.  There has been, and will continue to be, constant dialogue with the tipi owners and the Calgary Stampede regarding all facets of the Indian Village and if the name should change, the undertaking would come from these conversations.

“I hope that all guests to Stampede this year will stop by Indian Village to enjoy and participate in our cultures,” invites Provost. “Creating a sustainable culture isn’t just about the First Nations families who pass on traditions, but sharing the stories and traditions with all people to keep the history alive.”

Indian Village is open daily from Thursday, July 6 (Sneak-a-Peek) to Sunday, July 16. Guests are encouraged to attend the Opening Ceremonies on Friday, July 7 at 4 p.m., the Arts & Crafts and Bannock Booth, open daily, the Pow Wows from Wednesday until Saturday, and the Closing Ceremonies on Sunday, July 16 at 6 p.m.

For more information, visit calgarystampede.com/indianvillage.

Indian Village 2016
Indian Village 2016. Photo Credit: Bill Marsh / Calgary Stampede