Sunday, 4 July 2010

Blackfoot Shirts Exhibit Opening

On June 5th we celebrated the opening of the new exhibit: Kaahsinnooniksi Ao'toksisawooyawa Our ancestors have come to visit: Blackfoot Shirts. The Blackfoot Shirts on display are really unique - they date back to the 1840s and normally reside at the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University in England. In an unprecedented move, the shirts were brought to Canada where they were used in hands-on workshops at the Glenbow in Calgary, and here at the Galt Museum & Archives, before being put on display for everyone to enjoy. The shirts will be on display until the end of the summer so there is still lots of time to see the exhibit. Here are some photos from the opening celebration.

First, we had greetings from several dignitaries,
including Miss Blackfoot Canada, Simone Smith.
Then we had the ribbon cutting:
We also welcomed several dancers including two young boys - one a drummer, and one a hoop dancer - as well as Andrea True Joy Fox and Simone Smith:
There were also programs for kids including these two projects:
This Blackfoot shirt craft was developed by Anna Bullshoe and is posted on the Blackfoot Shirts website at the Pitt Rivers museum. I like the way the project helps kids to appreciate the idea that the images on the shirts were a way of capturing history. The shirt above was created by one of our volunteers and tells the story of her life in Lethbridge since moving here last year. The game with the popsicle stick and leather diamond shape is a version of a traditional Blackfoot game that teaches hand-eye coordination.

We also welcomed Mari King, from Blackfeet Community College in Montana, who presented a workshop on making dog travois. This workshop was so interesting and I was really sad that I was busy organising other parts of the day and couldn't participate myself. I think we'll run this program again sometime soon so that I can give it a try myself. My boss, and one of our volunteers Monique, participated though and made their own travois to take home.
Overall, I think it was a nice day, and that there were some wonderful performances and some interesting hands-on activities. We have a few more hands-on programs coming up related to the exhibit including puppet making this coming Saturday where we'll make puppets and then perform puppet shows of three Napi stories. We also will have two related bus tours, and a Metis jigging demo/lesson. I hope that people have a chance to come view the shirts before they go back to England - they really are spectacular!

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