Happy National Indigenous History Month!

The Canmore Museum would like to take this moment to express our gratitude to live on the traditional lands the Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda (Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Goodstoney), Blackfoot Confederacy (Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika), and Tsuut’ina Nations. The Canmore Museum is grateful for the insight and guidance we continue to receive from our Stoney Advisory Circle and knowledge keepers.

National Indigenous History Month is a time to acknowledge the history, stories, and achievements of Indigenous peoples all across Turtle Island (North America).

Read on to learn a bit more about the significance of this month and National Indigenous People’s Day, how the Canmore Museum as an institution is continuing to work towards reconciliation and the decolonization of museums, and to find further resources.

What is Indigenous People’s Day + Indigenous History Month?

Celebrations in downtown Canmore June 17, 2023

“June 21 is what is now called Indigenous People’s Day. This day was first declared by Elders gathered on the Stoney Indian reserve in 1971. At that time the Stoney Nakoda people hosted the annual Indian Ecumenical Conference at Morley (Mînî Thnî), Alberta. One of the first resolutions from the Indian Ecumenical Conference Steering Committee was to call for a National Indian Day of Prayer. This Day was observed by different groups throughout the 1970s and was officially recognized by the federal government as Aboriginal Day in 1996 after Elijah Harper’s Sacred Assembly and the release of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP). The Day was later renamed Indigenous People’s Day in 2017.

Indigenous History Month was officially declared after the federal residential school apology in 2008.

At the Indian Ecumenical Conference, Elders, Leaders and Holy People gathered from across Turtle Island to share teachings and correct understandings about Indigenous spiritual beliefs and practices. They sought to educate the growing Indigenous population that survived colonialism by grounding them in their original indigenous teachings, practices and ceremonies. People from across Turtle Island (North America), Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and other nations came to Morley to share and learn from one another. Morley gave birth to the modern Indigenous spiritual movement by encouraging participants to relearn their traditions, stories and beliefs by returning to their home communities so they could regain their identity, spirituality and governance.

Reverend, Dr., Chief John Snow, the late theologian, leader, author and lecturer for many universities captured the significance of the Indian Ecumenical Conference in his book: “These Mountains are our Sacred Places.” The book was originally published in 1976 for the centenary re-signing of Treaty Number 7 which occurred one year later. The story of Indigenous Day is further corroborated by Dr. James Treat in his book “Around the Sacred Fire.” Professor Treat chronicled details leading up to the declaration at Morley, where indigenous day was created, observed and supported by several denominations and national Indian organizations beginning in the 1970s.”

 —  Words kindly provided by Rev., Elder John Snow Jr.

What is the Canmore Museum Doing?

The Canmore Museum’s 2021-2024 Strategic Plan outlined our committment to Truth and Reconciliation, and building community, place, memory, and sustainability. The Canmore Museum strives to facilitate the ability for Stoney Nakoda and other Indigenous peoples to share their stories and sense of place with the community.

Wagaichibi Îhnuthe: The Dance Regalia of the Îyârhe Nakoda will be held from September 21, 2023 – January 8, 2024

Tipi Raising Ceremony at the NWMP Barracks June 10, 2023

Most recently, the Canmore Museum facilitated a Tipi Raising Ceremony, hosted by Stoney Nakoda knowledge keepers Travis Jimmy John and Ranine Ryder at the NWMP Barracks. This launched our Indigenous Stories Program, which will run throughout the summer (beginning July 2), where Îyârhe Nakoda knowledge keepers share their culture, language and oral traditions with the community.

This fall, the Canmore Museum will host a temporary exhibit, Wagaichibi Îhnuthe: The Dance Regalia of the Îyârhe Nakoda, tracing the journey of the Îyârhe Stoney Nakoda as they reclaim the cultural traditions of dance, regalia, and ceremony. This exhibit is developed in collaboration with members of the Stoney Nakoda Nation. You can learn more about the exhibit here.



Community + Learning Resources








These Mountains Are Our Sacred Places, Spirits of the Rockies, and The True and Original Intent of Treaty 7 are all available to purchase in-store or
online at the Canmore Museum.

A special thank you to Rev., Elder John Snow Jr. for his invaluable information on the history of National Indigenous People’s Day.

© 2020 Canmore Museum

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