TSINIKSSINI May 2017
Published by Blood Tribe Administration COMMUNICATIONS Department The Blood Tribe Administration Review entitled ‘TSINIKSSINI’ is dedicated to the sharing of information for the people of the Blood Tribe. The magazine format features news, stories, articles and an array of items as our way of sharing what is occurring on the Blood reserve and beyond. We hope you enjoy your magazine and invite any suggestions you may have in improving our coverage on any number of events and activities. The magazine will be printed on a monthly basis and will be distributed to various locations on-and-off the reserve. The magazine is free of charge. The magazine is published by the Blood Tribe Communications department and is printed by Graphcom Printers (2011) of Lethbridge. The collection of information, photographs and layout of the magazine is from the Blood Tribe Communications department. Reproduction of any story or use of photographs must be requested in writing and addressed to the Blood Tribe Communications department. Any unauthorized use of stories and photos of TSINIKSSINI or from the Blood Tribe Communications department may infringe on tribal copyright laws. We would like to acknowledge the Blood Tribe Chief & Council and the people of the Blood Tribe for your support. Rick Tailfeathers: Communications Director Tom Russell: Communications Writer Myron Fox: Layout Graphic Design Tracy Weasel Fat Photos/Stories Brent Scout Photos/Stories Mason Wolf Child Photos
in this issue At one of the former printing shops we did business with over the years, they would take a few copies of the Tsinikssini magazine and leave them on the table in their main foyer. The management and staff of the printing shop always informed us of how interested they were in the content and the variety of stories in relation to the activity here on the Blood reserve. After thanking them for the compliments, they added another compliment; we were told the people who frequented their business, and those who had the opportunity to read the Tsinikssini magazine, were surprised at just how much activity and stories there were here on the Blood reserve. They found reading the magazine very enjoyable and informative. As journalists, writers who share their craft with our readership, we are in constant search of stories and events to cover. Many times, we miss the chance to attend certain functions and doings simply because we were not informed. These, we consider, as missed opportunities to save as possible historic references down the road when, perhaps, our children, grandchildren and beyond, want to know more about the times we live in today. We live in a world hungry for news and information. In the sixteen or so pages of the Tsinikssini magazine, we try to include as many stories possible, with photos people can see in helping to visualize that certain function or event. As a result, we have thousands of photos we are archiving in the hopes, one day, of selecting some of our best pictures to share with you in a magazine dedicated to photos and accompanying captions. These are some of our dreams… Remember to contact us. With summer rolling in on us, and people once again stepping out into the sunshine to take advantage of the warmth of friendship and of goodwill, we continue to look forward to sharing our stories with every one. For this, we thank you… We hope you enjoy the information shared on our social media sites and your magazine. Again, we ask you to keep us informed on any up-coming events or functions and we will do our best to provide coverage. If we cannot attend any of the events, we kindly ask if you can share your photos with us. These photographs also contribute to the history of our people. You can pickup a copy of the magazine Tsinikssini, or visit us at bloodtribe.org. ‘Til next time…
cover photo Published by the authority of Blood Tribe Chief & Council Box 60 Standoff, AB T0L 1Y0 ph: (403) 737-3753 FAX: (403) 737-2785 visit our website for more... www.bloodtribe.org
The Blood Tribe Lands department and the Kainai Ecosystem Protection Agency invited people to the Blood Timber Limits to begin the process of protecting and developing a biodiverse habitat for future generations. The sweat lodge symbolized the cleansing that must occur to bring back a healthy environment for our people to enjoy and maintain. Front page photo: Tracy Weasel Fat Contributing photographers: Mason Wolf ChIld, Ramona Big Head. 2
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES INVITED TO CLIMATE LEADERSHIP PLAN designing the engagement strategy, and therefore, this is still an Alberta Initiative, not a true partnership. In addition, they noted that to be inclusive, participants should also engage at the community level because it is important that everyone is heard when developing this initiative.
Mathew Wildcat, U of A Faculty of Native Studies was a facilitator in highlighting many of the issues.
For First Nations, the goal for the land is about protection, but it’s also about use. We are the land…and we are the first to see and feel the effects of climate changes. It’s real and we must do something about it.” That was one of many dire messages shared by Indigenous leaders at Alberta’s Indigenous Climate Leadership Initiative (ICLI) meeting on May 10, 2017. The purpose of the half-day meeting was to explore options, and for the Province to receive guidance and advice for a new, shared decision-making model under the Indigenous Climate Leadership Initiative. It was a means for indigenous leaders, elders, community members and organizations to “realize the benefits and opportunities” and contribute to the outcomes of Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan. Indigenous communities expressed a willingness to invest in clean energy projects, which creates jobs and makes for more self-sufficiency and integration into their territory. Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan acknowledged Indigenous connection to the Earth and heard that climate change affects the unbreakable and sacred connection of land, air, water, sun, plants, animals and our human communities as the material and spiritual basis for our existence. Feehan said, Indigenous people “are in one of the best positions to tell us what’s changing in the climate (and) in the environment. We have been moving forward in terms of making
some pretty progressive changes in terms of our response to climate change in this province, and we have this great climate leadership program, and this is one of the many ways that we are encouraging First Nations and other Indigenous people in this province to get involved and give us their word.” A survey was conducted that sought to understand the knowledge that citizens have about climate change, and some ideas of how to “construct the committee or the organization that will be moving forward to deliver the monies and the programs for the Indigenous climate leadership program.” Indigenous leaders emphasized their role as stewards of the land and that there is a need to focus on common environmental goals. There was a balance of hope and skepticism regarding ICLI. Blood Tribe Chief Roy Fox expressed some skepticism and reminded Minister Feehan that the tribe has had a shovel ready proposal good to go and that it is “time for action” on meaningful consultations and that the government has been slow to move on true partnerships and collaborations on revenue sharing agreements that ensure First Nations benefit from economic development projects. Another concern expressed was that in the past there was little consideration given to traditional systems of governance, and that even now, Alberta is speaking largely of western models. Some leaders also emphasized that they were not part of 3
Participants also listened to several presentations including a report back from an April 19th meeting, building a shared vision and values, and ‘wise practices’ in governance demonstrated in existing models. They also split into small discussion groups to share thoughts and insights, using discussion questions as a guide. Since January 1, a carbon levy has been applied to heating and transportation fuels and those monies are reinvested into “a more diversified Alberta economy.” The levy will support the participation of Indigenous communities in climate leadership initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, stimulate green economic development, generate green jobs and lower costs from burning fossil fuels. Developing authentic relationships built on trust and understanding is essential to reconciliation and it is essential that governments and industry recognize the extraordinary wisdom and knowledge. Alberta heard that definitive action is required on Aboriginal rights and justice, on environmental protection, and economic renewal. There can be no such thing as environmental justice without economic justice -- without First Nations justice.
Minister Feehan was present during the various presentations related to the Indigenous Climate Leadership Iniative.
Story By Brent Scout
Battle Against Fentanyl TSINIKSSINI May 2017
Still Raging On The Blood Reserve
Dr. Esther Tailfeathers is among those still seeking ways to overcome the deadly illegal and illicit drug trade and overdoses on the reserve.
STAND OFF - Blood Tribe leaders gathered in Stand Off on Tuesday May 23, 2017 to update band members and government officials on the fentanyl crisis that has plagued the community for over two years. After more than 12 months where the number of deaths declined, four fatalities occurred last month. But despite the latest fatalities due to fentanyl overdoses, the tribe is seeing some success in the battle against this deadly drug. The Blood Tribe has been a leader in Alberta’s battle against fentanyl. While the number of overdose deaths mounted across the province in 2015, the community was the first in Alberta to dispense the opioid antidote Naloxone widely to its members. “We are all affected by this crisis,” said Chief Roy Fox to the nearly 150 band members and guests gathered at the Multipurpose building in Standoff. “We must continue to work together to combat the drug crisis in our community. We will
overcome this tragedy that is happening to all of us.” A host of officials including the Blood Tribe department of health, Blood Tribe police and addiction experts attended the special meeting called by Blood Tribe Chief and Council, to share statistics and strategies. Representatives from Alberta Health Services and the provincial and federal governments were on hand to hear the presentations. Poverty and widespread unemployment in Stand Off, one of several communities on the reserve, have helped create conditions that make the townsite especially vulnerable to drug abuse and addictions, says Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, a tribal member and a physician who has been treating fentanyl users. “There were already addiction issues before and there was basically no economy,” Tailfeathers says, estimating 4
that 90 per cent of the reserve’s overdoses have occurred in Stand Off. “The small businesses barely survive on reserve. There are hardly any jobs.” She adds: “Our problem isn’t just fentanyl, we need to take a look at what our community problems are.” Tailfeathers says the biggest issues driving the drug crisis are poverty, poor education opportunities, unemployment and housing. Alcoholism is still the biggest killer, in spite of the alarming statistics on fentanyl addiction. Tailfeathers says she would like to see a managed detox program established on the reserve, with dedicated spaces — so that band members don’t have to travel to places like Fort Macleod, Calgary and Medicine Hat —and relapse prevention programming and aftercare. Many on the reserve residents credit Tailfeathers for being the first to sound the alarm about the rising fentanyl threat. She says she continues to be at the forefront of the community response because the reserve is
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
Many of the Blood Tribe’s leadership, including federal and provincial representatives, attended the special meeting to hear tribal concerns.
her home, but says many others have also come forward to help battle this crisis. On the Blood reserve, health officials began noticing a spike in overdoses at the local emergency room in the fall of 2014 when authorities were responding to unprecedented numbers of overdoses. Fentanyl pills sell for $50 to $60 each on the reserve, an incredible markup over the going rate in Calgary, where police say users are paying around $20 per tablet. When the fatalities due to fentanyl peaked at over 20 in the spring of 2015, a local state of emergency was called mobilizing a small army of frontline workers including police, emergency responders, healthcare workers and social agencies on the reserve. A request for Narcan kits, an antiodote
Chief Roy Fox addresses people.
for opiod drugs, went out to Provincial health officials April 2015. The tribe was the first to receive the kits in Canada. After training frontline works and individuals on administering the shots, they were released to the communities on the reserve. Since the introduction of the Narcan kits, many users have been saved from certain death. An opioid replacement program was initiated to reduce the dependency on the highly addictive drug fentanyl. New data from the Tribe’s Health Department showed surging numbers of band members are accessing opioid replacement therapies like suboxone or methadone. One of the frontline workers and leaders in this battle, Dr. Sue Christianson, reported that the latest statistics show a drastic increase in the number of tribal members being treated for the opiod addiction, from just 62 band members in the 2014-2015 fiscal year to 387 in the most recent count; the number of claimants accessing these treatments jumped by more than 500 per cent. Band members also heard about a 300 per cent increase in the number of drug trafficking charges laid on the reserve between 2014 and 2016, according to data presented by Blood Tribe police. Just 17 drug trafficking charges were laid in 2014. In 2016, that number climbed to 68. There have been 50 drug trafficking charges laid so far this year, says acting police chief Kyle Melting Tallow. “If that trend continues — and we’re not even halfway through the year yet — we’re going to be in excess of 100 charges. That’s quite an 5
alarming figure.” While trafficking charges have increased, the number of charges for possession in that same period has dropped, reflecting the tribe’s focus on prosecuting drug dealers, Melting Tallow says. The Blood Tribe is hoping a new bylaw prohibiting trespass by non-band members will help stem the flow of fentanyl and other illicit drugs onto the reserve. The bylaw took effect on May 13, 2017 and the Blood Tribe Police will remove or charge people found trespassing on the southern Alberta reserve. In a statement released by the tribe, “The Blood Tribe Council has taken active steps to minimize the impacts of fentanyl and other drug related activities on the Blood reserve... One of the steps has been to enact the Kainai/Blood Tribe Trespass Bylaw and Regulations to deal with the ongoing concerns with respect to persons entering on the Blood reserve for purposes related to the unlawful use and distribution of drugs.” While it has always been illegal to trespass on a reserve under the Indian Act, the new Bylaw provides a detailed schedule of entry and residency permits. All non-band members, including employees of the band, contractors, business people and hunters, will be required to obtain entry permits to demonstrate they are authorized to be on the reserve. Although the Blood Tribe’s efforts to intervene in the fentanyl crisis are showing some positive results, the battle is far from over. Story By Rick Tailfeathers
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
CHIEF FOX MEETS WITH MEDIA TO SHARE INFORMATION ON TRESPASS BYLAW “What is more important? Saving the lives of our people, our young people, or making it inconvenient for some of our friends or visitors to visit us?” he said. “If you go through the bylaw, it will not affect the ability of others to visit us or do business here. The costs are very minimal.” Councilor Dorothy First Rider, who was a council member on the previous tribal leadership, said the decision was, in part, from a request of the Blood Tribe Police who required support from a more defined, legal perspective to justify the removal of non-tribal people involved in illegal activities.
Chief Roy Fox speaks to media.
Kainai Chief Roy Fox and Councilor Dorothy First Rider met with media to share information and to clarify tribal intent in the passage of the Blood Tribe Trespass Bylaw that came into effect May 13, 2017. Fox says the bylaw was initiated to ensure the safety of tribal members due to the access to tribal lands from non-tribal members who are contributing to the illegal trafficking of illicit drugs.
“The (Blood Tribe) police brought it to our attention that they didn’t have a legal mechanism in place to escort individuals that were unlawfully on the reserve,” she said. “We understand we are not going to eradicate illegal activity on the reserve, but at least it will minimize illegal activity. They (Blood Tribe Police) are going to be using the trespass bylaw to assist them in escorting individuals (off the reserve) that are known drug dealers who are not members of the tribe.”
First Rider said the permit costs are not to be considered a tax on individuals or businesses and the revenue received from permit holders will be used to offset administrative and enforcement costs. “The revenue generated is not going to be very much, it’s just going to offset the cost of the administration (of the bylaw),” she said. Chief Fox said people attending public functions or travelling through the reserve will not be required to request for a permit. However, those not on the provincial highway will be required to have a permit to be allowed on tribal land. For more information on the Trespass Bylaw, please visit bloodtribe.org.
“Probably, the biggest reason for instituting the Trespass Bylaw was to help curtail the sale of harmful drugs to our people on our reserve,” he said. “We have gone through a (drug) crisis and it is still with us. Some very serious drugs are killing our people. I would want to prevent the deaths of our people, and if this is one way of helping out with the total initiative, I think the trespass bylaw was definitely needed for that purpose.” Fox said the bylaw is not meant to deter visitors or businesses from tribal lands, but when the people’s lives are in jeopardy from non-tribal members involved in illegal activities on the Blood reserve, the safety of lives becomes the utmost of priorities.
Chief Fox and Blood Councilor Dorothy First Rider explain Trespass Bylaw.
Story By Tom Russell
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
LANDS MANAGEMENT STAFF AND COMMITTEE MEMBERS MEET WITH CALGARY RESIDENTS TO SHARE INFORMATION
attitude where our staff must respond in a reasonable time. We work for you.” The public meeting was the second in as many days as the Lands department staff and committee met with tribal members residing in Lethbridge to share their direction and to hear their concerns.
Lands Committee members Lance Tailfeathers and Hank Shade listen to concerns.
The Lands Management staff and its committee hosted an information session in Calgary on May 17, 2017, to discuss issues and concerns related to tribal lands and other matters. After a prayer from tribal elder Peter Weasel Moccasin, emcee Travis Plaited Hair called upon the Lands Committee members to share their thoughts on their intent to keep members informed on the direction the Lands department is developing.
with a resolution,” Tailfeathers explains in establishing initial contact. “We’re always looking at ways to improve our relationships and to begin conversations to understand where some of these differences are and of how we can settle them.”
Lands Chairman Lance Tailfeathers says communication is key to creating healthy dialogue between tribal members and the Lands department in moving forward.
“We would like to talk about what you would like to talk about,” Shade told the people on meeting to discuss other topics of concern. “Our committee is determined to operate with customer service in mind; developing a professional public service
“It’s best to sit down and talk to come up
Committee member Hank Shade greeted the tribal participants and assured them of the committee’s support in establishing a department geared toward service delivery.
Councilor Tim Tailfeathers, was brief in his presentation, saying he is fully committed to his role in meeting on an individual basis with the people, while council member Robin Little Bear asked if the people could assist in the gathering of information by completing a survey. The information gathered would then be utilized to contribute to a delivery of service beneficial to all tribal members. “How the Lands department conducts business is very important for our entire tribe,” she said. “There are many things the Lands department does, and they want to know that what they’re doing is out there, that people understand their roles and to get the feedback from the people.” Lands Director Clo Ann Wells gave a presentation on the department’s direction and each of the Lands staff were called upon to share their roles and responsibilities with the people. The Lands Committee will be hosting further information sessions in various locations in keeping the people informed on a variety of topics and issues.
Lands Management staff were well-prepared to share current and historic information wilh Calgary residents.
Story By Tom Russell
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
Tourism Convention Features Indigenous
Hosts For The First Time as Ambassadors
Treaty 7 Chiefs during opening ceremony, Rendezvous Canada 2017 at the BMO Center in Calgary. (L-R) Kainai Chief Roy Fox, Siksika Chief Joe Weasel Child, Tsuu Tina Chief Lee Crowchild, Asmskapi Piikani Chief Harry Barnes and Piikani Chief Stanley Grier.
This year’s Rendezvous Canada convention was hosted in Calgary at the BMO Centre on the Calgary Stampede Complex May 9, 2017. Rendezvous Canada is Canada’s largest and most important tourism trade show with over 1500 delegates from an estimated 50 countries. The tourism convention was hosted by Destination Canada, Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Travel Alberta and other key industry partners including Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada. Destination Canada markets Canada internationally. Their mission is to grow Canada’s tourism export revenues and support industry partners. Destination Canada is a Crown corporation whollyowned by the Government of Canada. They use data-driven marketing strategies to stimulate international demand and tourism export revenue for Canada in 11 countries: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the UK and the USA.
Their campaigns are targeted to reflect individual market conditions and traveller interests. In collaboration with tourism industry partners, they promote Canada internationally as a premier four-season tourism destination. They are considered a leader in industry knowledge, and provide intelligence, tools and insights to their partners—equipping them to optimize their business and maximize their reach. For the first time since the first convention, Indigenous people were asked to be ambassadors to a worldwide audience. The prestigious event featured a grand entry, powwow style, at the opening ceremonies conducted by Piikani elder Leonard Weasel Traveller. Participants in the grand entry included chiefs from the Treaty 7 territory and Amsakapi Pikunii. In his opening address Kainai Chief Roy Fox welcomed all the visitors to the convention. 8
”We, the people of this land, have been here for 10,000 years. We have many land sites that are very sacred places, some of them are world heritage sites,” he stated in his address. “We welcome all visitors from all countries, to come and visit these sites.” Other representatives from other Treaty 7 tribes were Piikani Chief Stanley Grier, Tsuu ’Tina Chief Lee Crowchild, Siksika Chief Joe Weasel Child and Amsakpi Pikanii Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes. The welcome by the chiefs and other tribal officials was greatly appreciated by the visitors from foreign countries, as many had never seen such a traditional ceremony. The Rendezvous Canada convention provides an opportunity for tourism groups to network and do business with foreign markets.
Story By Rick Tailfeathers
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
LANDS MANAGEMENT AND KEPA HOPES TO RESTORE BIODIVERSITY BACK TO BLOOD TRIBE TIMBER LIMITS
Kansie Fox (center) stands with daughter Monroe and Christine Eisenburg, Earth Watch Institute, who received a traditional name.
Blood Tribe Land Management and Kainai Ecosystem Protection Agency (EarthWatch Project), collaborated on a project that helps restore and maintain the Blood Timber Limit as a healthy, biodiverse habitat that sustains development, recreation, cultural and spiritual practices, natural processes such as fire, wolves and buffalo. This project will help scientists and park staff to understand how re-wilding can shape a critical ecosystem, and also help researchers untangle how the relationships between keystone forces, fire, wolves and bison and how their impacts on elk and aspen can keep this wild landscape intact. Two groups of Kainai High School students each spent five days and were able to learn all of the job skills that they will need in order to be field technicians. The students are fortunate to eat traditional meats like elk and buffalo during their training. High School student Austin Fox shared his thoughts and emotions on eating the food our ancestors ate to survive and thrive in
oftentimes-harsh environments. “Its good food just like how we ate back in the day, I feel stronger already just by eating buffalo,” he said. “It’s how we used to live and how our ancestors survived.” On the fifth day, many of the participants had the opportunity to experience a cultural sweat lodge and pipe ceremony. Chief scientist for the Earth Watch Institute, Christina Eisenburg, was given a traditional Blackfoot name and was presented with a Pendleton blanket. Her name, “Mountain Star Woman” Miistaaksiikaakato’sakii, is to honour the work they are doing together. The Pendleton blanket belonged to her late friend and mentor John Russell, and before that, to his father, famed Canadian conservationist Andy Russell. Eisenburg was deeply moved and humbled by this and would like to thank elders Mike Bruised Head, Peter Weasel Moccasin, Kansie Fox, Clo Ann Wells, Elliot Fox, Alvine Mountain Horse, the Kainai Environmental Protection Agency and 9
Kainai First Nation. Kansie Fox, Manager, Environmental Protection, Blood Tribe Lands Department, is pleased at how the involvement of Earth Watch is progressing in contributing to keeping our environment vital and healthy. “Earth Watch is doing an amazing job of getting things to happen and getting the community involved.”
Story By Tracy Weasel Fat
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
Blood Tribe member becomes first Indigenous president of Harvard University’s legal aid program
University of Lethbridge grad Julian Spear Chief-Morris is in his second year of law school at Harvard
Julian Spear Chief-Morris receives honor in being named to prestigious position at Harvard University.
Julian Spear Chief-Morris is a Blood Tribe member, University of Lethbridge graduate, and the first Indigenous president of Harvard University’s Legal Aid Bureau.
I was working with and I just wanted to take on a bigger role,” he said.
A member of southern Alberta’s Blood Tribe has become the first Indigenous student to head Harvard Law School’s Legal Aid Bureau in the history of the 104-year-old organization. Julian Spear Chief-Morris was recently elected president of the bureau, the second largest provider of legal aid services in the Boston area.
Spear Chief-Morris, who is from Lethbridge, says his family background and previous education and work experience has helped him in the legal aid role.
The University of Lethbridge grad and second-year law student told the Calgary Eyeopener (in an earlier interview), “it means a lot” to hold the prestigious position. “I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from my friends and family back in southern Alberta and it’s been truly humbling,” he said, speaking from Cambridge, Mass.
Former guidance counsellor
“I grew up with a mom from the Blood reserve and my dad’s actually African American, from Los Angeles. So navigating that growing up was a very unique experience,” he said. After graduating from the University of Lethbridge with an Urban and Regional Studies degree, Spear ChiefMorris worked for a year as a guidance counsellor with Aboriginal students in the Lethbridge School District.
Spear Chief-Morris became involved in the bureau late in his first year of law school.
“That community development background has really helped my work here at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau,” he said. “It’s different from most people around here, but it’s been very useful for me.”
“I’ve learned so much from the people that
Plans to return to southern Alberta 10
Following university and his work as a guidance counsellor, Spear Chief-Morris wanted to learn more about strengthening communities. “After finishing my undergrad degree, I felt like I had more questions than answers, so I decided not to go into planning,” he said. “I took this job as a guidance counsellor, which was great, but in that position I also saw a lot of issues I didn’t have the skills to address. I felt like I was just addressing symptoms rather than the root causes of those issues, so that’s what led me to law school.” In law school, SpearChief-Morris said he’s tried to focus on learning how to strengthen communities and make them healthier. He plans to take that knowledge back to southern Alberta. “My long-term goal has always been to return to southern Alberta and see if I can put my experience to use,” he said.
Story Courtesy of C.B.C.
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
TATSIKIISAAPO’P MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT TRIP TO THE SOUTHERN BOUNDARY OF TRADITIONAL BLACKFOOT TERRITORY
Horse and Chief Gall. On the way back to Billings, the group visited significant sites such as Pompey’s Pillar and the Pictograph Cave State Park. Mike Bruised Head, one of the elders accompanying the group was instrumental in making this trip successful by using his contacts to get tours for the group.
Photo of students leaving the middle school grounds.
A total of 34 Grade 8 Tatikiisaapo’p Middle School students along with staff and elders went on one of the most memorable and meaningful trips to Traditional Blackfoot Territory and the Yellowstone River, which runs through Billings, Montana. A charter bus departed from the Middle School to Billings on Monday, May 15th, 2017. The Mission Statement of the middle school states that: “Based on the foundation of Kainayssini and in collaboration with Community, Elders, Parents, and Educators, we provide the highest standards and quality of education for all
our students”. This trip is an example of how the school is adapting the history and traditional teachings of the Blackfoot into the curriculum. On Tuesday, May 16th they travelled to the Battle of the Little Big Horn also known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass among the Lakota. A tour guide took the group through the site and enthralled the group with stories about the battle that took place in June 1876. The United States 7th Cavalry, led by George Armstrong Custer, were annihilated by the Lakota (Sioux), Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho, whose war leaders included Sitting Bull, Crazy
The next day, the group travelled to Great Falls, Montana, and visited the First People’s Buffalo Jump and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centre. Again, the students were shown the vastness of traditional Blackfoot territory and the stories that go along with each site. On the final day, Thursday, May 18th, the group travelled to Fort Benton, Montana. Middle School teacher Jackie Davis shared stories of her grandmother, Rosie Davis, who was born in Fort Benton and then walked with her family to Blackfoot Crossing at the Treaty 7 signing in 1877. On the way home, the students were told the story of the 1870 Baker Massacre by principal, Ramona Big Head, who researched this event for her M.Ed thesis. The group stopped at the 1870 Baker Massacre signage along the highway just east of Shelby, Montana, and honored our ancestors, survivors of the massacre, by singing songs. The group pulled into the Middle School on the evening of Thursday, May 18th, 2017. This trip was very significant and meaningful for all who went. The students will remember this trip for years to come, and they now know exactly how vast is the Traditional Blackfoot Territory. They also know the stories and historical significance of each site. The trip was funded by the Kainai Board Of Education and the students also used proceeds from school fundraising for this trip.
Students and staff gather at the Little Big Horn battle site.
Submitted by Ramona Big Head
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
DAY CHIEF’S FASHION CLOTHING DESIGN DEBUTS IN NEW YORK AND NEXT IN PARIS The town of Browning is nestled on the northern end of the Blackfeet reservation. The landscape, mainly grassland with a few lakes and streams scattered about, belies a history of which a people defended its territory from warring tribes to the east and south. Today, the encampment, the town of Browning, and situated on the edge of the Plains at foothills of the Rocky Mountains which is home to a few thousand people, is considered far off the beaten path. A place where buckskin and beads and pieces of colorful clothe and ribbons take center stage in the powwow world and where cultural and traditional outfits are adorned with porcupine quills and trinkets and an array of items unique to each designer. Throughout history, especially in times of need, people made their clothing and shelter from available materials, but there was also another facet of design. The Blackfeet, members of the Blackfoot Confederacy, were considered fierce, arrogant and proud. And the way they dressed was a reflection of that cultured image. The Blackfeet women, held in high regard, developed skills and expertise in cultivating a style of clothing unique to its people. Today, Belinda Day Chief-Bullshoe, a proud Blackfeet woman is literally taking the industry by storm, as her clothing line is quickly becoming the benchmark in design and fashion. Ever since her grandmother
The late Mary Morgan
made her sit by her side to learn the intricate craft of sewing, Day Chief-Bullshoe has added her own flair on those teachings to come up with a style the mainstream fashion is clamoring over. On February 10, 2017, Day Chief-Bullshoe stood on center stage in New York on a runway busy with models and designers and, on the verge of tears, watched proudly as her line of clothing, fitted on beautiful models, unfolded on the runway during New York’s Fashion Week festivities. The tears welling up inside her were mainly of joy, and partly in reflection of a spirit whose presence was felt on that special day. For Day Chief-Bullshoe, the fashion show coincided with a sign her ancestors were there in support – it was her late grandmother’s birthday.
Day Chief-Bullshoe remembers the first dress she designed a dress from teachings she learned from her grandmother. “She taught her grandchildren a lot, and one day I decided to see if I could create a dress and it took me nine hours to create it. I wanted to name that dress ‘The Grandmother’s Dress,’ because there is a binding between the top of the dress to the skirt,” she said. “This dress is significant in that it reminds us of our grandmother’s teachings and of how we are bound together through her dedication to us, and to life.” After thinking of the first dress she completed, she decided to continue developing dresses with the dream of one day seeing her creations come to life. It was a call from a lady in Vermont who had heard of and seen her design and wanted a dress to use at a gala. With cultural commitments on hand, Day Chief-Bullshoe explained just how little time she had on her hands, but realized a deeper devotion to her craft. She fulfilled the request in two days and sent the finished dress to Vermont. “I sent the dress through priority mail and within two days, it arrived in Vermont,” she recalled. “We then went to the Sundance and a couple of months later, I realized I hadn’t heard from the lady in Vermont. She told me she received the dress the day of the gala and it fit her perfectly.”
Day Chief-Bullshoe poses with New York City models who are dressed in her fashion designs. She is preparing now for Paris.
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
big dream in 2013, when I first created that white dress, the Grandmother’s Dress, I had a dream that hopefully one day, my creations would be on the runway in New York. I realized then my dream became a reality.” Once the Couture Fashion Week show came to a conclusion, she and her husband Rod made the trip back home; her emotions running wild in the wind. She has since been invited back next year to share more of her designs and is busy preparing for her trip overseas to one of the upper echelons of the fashion industry – Paris, France. “After the show in New York, I was approached by a lady A model shares a stunning design.
That chance encounter with the lady led to an inquiry of a possible showing of her designs in New York. Day Chief-Bullshoe made the call and sent three designs to the fashion industry in the Big Apple. After reading her e-mails, she discovered she had to send two more designs. As a result, the people in New York confirmed her attendance to share her designs with the eyes of the fashion world soaking in every detail of her designs. Her dream, of her showing her creations on a major fashion stage, was unfolding before her. “When they announced my name after the models completed their walk with my dresses on, and under the brilliant lights of Broadway shining down on them, I had to tell myself ‘Don’t cry Belinda, don’t cry,” she remembers, standing behind the curtains as she was preparing to walk out on stage, arm-in-arm with her mother for support. “When they announced my name, and just being out there on the runway, I really became emotional. I realized my
who asked me if I had ever been to Paris,” she said. “She told me I truly hope you will decide to go to Paris because, seeing what I seen here in New York, you have some marvelous work and I think Paris would love your creations.” After viewing the details and contacting the people involved in attending the fashion show in Paris, she received confirmation for her to take her designs to their fashion show in September. “It’s a high honor,” she said of her steady rise in the fashion world. “It’s a blessing. Every day I thank the Creator for giving me the opportunity for representing, not only myself, and my family, but to represent my people across the Indian Nations. If my dreams can come true, then the dreams of the people can come true also.” For those who aspire to achieve, the world awaits with open arms. And for the young Blackfeet woman who chose to awaken 13
A striking pose in a captivating dress.
her dreams, to eventually shine under the spotlight in the glare of the fashion industry, she realized she can embrace her culture and traditions in the most respectful of ways – fly high Belinda, fly high.
Story By Tom Russell
TSINIKSSINI May 2017
High school and Alternative Academy students get the jump in learning and understanding how the world of business operates.
Grade 11 and 12 students from the Kainai High School and the Kainai Alternate Academy participated in the Aboriginal High School business program this semester in gaining an understanding of business and financial literacy skills. Paul Martin, former prime minister of Canada, and his family created the program in 2008 as a way to improve the lives of Aboriginal students. Heather Black, Coordinator for the Junior Achievement Indigenous Programs, said the students were taught many of the basic skills in gaining an understanding of the business environment. “The Aboriginal High School business program equips the students with business skills and gives them confidence,” she said. “We are trying to show them that having these skills they could do anything and they can achieve.” The Aboriginal High School business program was created to promote Aboriginal youths’ educational opportunities and their engagement in school. The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative created the innovative Aboriginal Youth
Entrepreneurship Program (AYEP). AYEP is now in 44 schools across seven provinces and one territory, teaching Aboriginal youth about business and providing credit towards high school graduation. The program provides opportunities to develop the practical skills – budgeting, financial knowledge, presentation skills, time management – and social-emotional skills – leadership, collaboration, creativity – that are the building blocks of successful careers in business and beyond.
their future endeavors. “This gives them incentive, to work towards something and to have an employable skill once they leave school,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin
Kogen Wells, one of the students enrolled in the program, said the program was useful in understanding how the world of business operates. “I learned how to manage a business, find resources and how to negotiate set prices, how to budget, and talk to group members in my business,” he said. “I would like to thank Caroline Russell for teaching us and giving us a chance in the program.” Also involved in the Aboriginal High School business program were students of the Kainai Alternate Academy. Principal Byron Bruised Head said the students gained knowledge and business skills for 14
The Paul Martin Aboriginal Initiative Story By Tracy Weasel Fat
TSINIKSSINI May 2017