Reclaiming Blackfoot culture

Reclaiming Blackfoot culture r1 ... View this e-mail in your browser. Last week the headlines came rolling in: Alberta had a new UNESCO World Heritage site at Áísínai'pi, also known as Writing-on-Stone.
Many of the stories seemed to stem directly from a Government of Alberta press release, but our Alberta reporter Sharon J. Riley wanted to know more.

The area was designated as a World Heritage site not for its hoodoos or cottonwoods or coulees, but for its cultural importance to the Blackfoot people.

So she tracked down a Blackfoot elder, Martin Heavy Head, and asked him to tell her about it. It turns out he worked on getting international recognition of the area for more than 20 years. He sees its recognition as an important step toward repatriation of Blackfoot culture.

“When we talk about repatriation, we’re not just repatriating our stuff from the museums,” Heavy Head says.

“We’re repatriating our language, our history, our land, our sacred sites.”

He also told Sharon some of the stories he grew up hearing about Writing-on-Stone — a place his grandfathers could only tell him about through story as they had never been able to visit themselves.
Check out Sharon’s piece (with portraits by photographer Chris Bolin) about the long road to the world stage, and Heavy Head’s reflections on what the latest designation means in the broader context of reclaiming Blackfoot culture and land.

And keep scrolling for much more!

Emma Gilchrist Editor-in-chief

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