Calgary Stampede: Elbow Valley Camp (formerly 'Native Village')

Stampede dates: July 4-14, 2019

Indian Village Wide photo Calgary Stampede Native Village

The Native Village serves two functions: it provides a place for Indians to stay on the grounds (more about this later) and to teach others about the traditions of the Plains Indians.

The indian Village has moved from the south entrance (by 26th Avenue SW / Erton LRT) to the >East Entrance, east of the Saddledome across a footbridge over the Elbow River.

Indian heritage is as much a part of Western heritage as the cowboy. The Indians have been traditionaly granted free admission to the grounds. One year (I believe in the 60s) the Stampede Board chose to begin charging admission. The Indians did a rain dance and it rained non-stop until the Stampede Board welcomed the Indians for free. They did another dance, and the sun shone again.

BannockBaking The Indian Village has numerous events scheduled throughout the day: a teepee raising competition, cooking and crafts, beadwork, native theatre and dance. You can even inspect the teepees and talk to the Indians resting inside (sings will tell you which teepees are open). Sitting on the grass in the Village surrounded by the colorful teepees, gives a moment of peace in a busy Stampede day.

Native Elder at Calgary Stampede Native Village

How a Teepee is built
While traditional teepees were made from animal hides, today's teepees are made from canvas. In building a teepee, the first step is to fasten three or four poles together as a base. More poles are added to give the teepee its round shape. The canvas is warapped around after being tied to one of the poles and raised into position. The opening at the top allows the smoke to exit the teepee and the top flaps always faces downwind. The bottom of the canvas is staked to the ground. The door flap is fastened to the front with wood "pins". Blankets are spread around the circumference for bedding, and the fireplace is set up in the center of the teepee.

Insider's Tip
The Indians (they are respectfully called First Nations these days) actually camp in their teepees over Stampede, so you need to ask for permission to enter their teeepees. You may look, and ask questions, but don't touch anything. Some of the crafts and native skills competitions are quite interesting to watch (or try!), and keep in mind these pre-dated television reality shows by a few thousand years.

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