A walk through Elbow River Camp, presented by Enbridge, is an experience full of fascinating First Nations history and culture. From the tipis on display, to a variety of other programming and demonstrations, there are so many things to see and learn as you take a stroll through the Camp.
Each of the of the Treaty 7 nations—Siksika, Piikani, Kainai, Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda—are all represented in the Camp and members from each of the nations can be found camping in the 26 tipis in Elbow River Camp during the 10 days of the Calgary Stampede.
The 26 unique and brightly designed tipis belong to a tipi-owning family and have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of the tipi designs have been passed along in families for nearly 200 years.
Every tipi also has a story to go along with it–most of the tipi designs came to the creator in a dream. The base of the tipi represents the land. For example, if a tipi has triangles at the bottom, that often represents mountains. The middle section of the tipi is where all of the action of the story takes place, and often features an animal design. The top of the tipi represents the sky. Commonly, the tops of the tipis will have dots on them, signifying the stars in the night sky.
Every day, there are a number of tipis that are open for Stampede guests to enter in and visit. The tipis have open and closed signs on the outside, so if the sign says open, you are invited to walk in, say hello and see all of the unique artifacts and displays that each of the tipi owning families showcase for their guests. If you are planning on taking photos, make sure to ask the tipi owner before you do.
Another thing you are likely to see when visiting the camp is a meat smoking and bannock making demonstration over an open fire. Different varieties of wood are used to give the meat and bannock different flavours.
Another not-to-miss activity in Elbow River Camp are the Tribe Days. Each of the nations of Treaty 7 have the opportunity to share part of their culture with the public on a specific day. Demonstrations include dancing, storytelling, meat cutting, beadwork and other traditions, on or around the Arbour Stage.
Other activities in the Camp include, Powwows, storytelling, traditional games, hand games, local artisan booths and the Bannock Booth, where you can get a taste of the culture first-hand.
For more information on the programming in Elbow River Camp, visit our website.