Insider Tips On What to Do at Calgary Stampede’s Indian Village

The 2017 Calgary Stampede Indian Village Princess tells us the best ways to experience the area dedicated to the five nations of Treaty 7. Get ready for food, dancing and tipi raising.

Photograph courtesy of Savanna Sparvier

Savanna Sparvier, this year’s Calgary Stampede Indian Village Princess, is the first of the Duck Chief’s to have run for and won the Calgary Stampede Indian Village Princess title. Since being crowned in October last year, 19-year-old Sparvier, from the Siksika First Nation, has been busy touring the globe representing the five tribes of Treaty 7, Calgary Stampede and Indian Village.

Sparvier has taken a year off school, where she is studying to become an English and drama teacher, to focus on her regal role at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. “I wanted to make a point to all the little girls out there to try new things, even if they’re afraid people might make fun of them,” she says.

“I’ve visited schools in Toronto earlier this year and being surrounded by children, answering their questions and being able to connect with them really brought out the spirit of why I want to be a teacher. I love being around all that energy.”

During the Calgary Stampede, you’ll often find Sparvier in Indian Village, where families of Treaty 7 nations set up camp for the duration of the Stampede. In 2016, Indian Village moved to Enmax Park, the location where they camped at the first Stampede back in 1912. Right from the beginning Indian Village was an important part of the Stampede.

Photo by Ardash Crowfoot Photography.

“Guy Weadick [creator of Calgary Stampede] wanted to showcase our culture and what we do in our everyday lives. The Stampede has always respectfully embraced our cultural heritage,” says Sparvier.

“Indian Village is filled with so much knowledge and this is one of the times throughout the year that we can share our traditions and values with non-natives.”

Here Sparvier shares some of her favourite things to do at Calgary Stampede Indian Village.

Learn about the Tipi

“Indian Village is an open place, so don’t be afraid to go up to the tipi owners and ask questions. You can learn about the stories of the Village and the history on the tipi, talk to a tipi family and listen to their traditional stories at daily tipi inspections. Don’t miss the Tipi Raising Contest held every evening at 7:45 p.m.”

Watch Traditional Dancing

“The Indian Village Grand Entry is a must. I’ll be at there everyday from around 2 p.m., dancing in the Grand Entry along with the five Nations of Treaty Seven. I dance all three styles of traditional dancing—jingle, fancy and traditional. Right now I am mostly doing fancy and traditional. My mom told me I look like my great grandmother Emily Duck Chief when I dance traditional style and that stuck with me. So, for me, to dance traditional is our family’s way of keeping my great grandmother’s memory strong.”

Learn about Traditional Food Preparation

“There is a cooking preparation and demonstration station where we show how the meat would have been traditionally prepared back in the 1800s. One of my areas of expertise is cutting and drying meat, and making pemmican, which was traditionally done in preparation for wintertime.”

Enjoy a Bannock Picnic

“Try homemade bannock in the bannock booth.” Pick up a bannock booth picnic pack that includes a picnic blanket and a picnic for two all packed into a handy tote bag—choose from the bannock breakfast sandwich, bannock burger, bannock dog, Indian taco or taco in a bag.

Go Shopping

“Shop for handmade beading from various Nations at Jewelry in the Sweetgrass Lodge.”

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