Friday, October 16, 2015

New cultural landmark in Nose Hill Park: Siksikaitsitapi medicine wheel offering site

Nose Hill Park recently became home to a new cultural landmark. In late September, members of the Blood Tribe built a traditional medicine wheel there as part of the Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy) conference.

The medicine wheel is constructed of rocks in the shape of the Siksikaitsitapi logo, a circle that represents all four member tribes: Siksiika, Blood, Northern and Southern Peigan.

Andy Black Water developed the concept and design. "It is meant to be an offering site,” says Black Water. “When people walk or bike through there, they can stop and make a small offering to our creator and be blessed. It's an opportunity for us as people to take a few moments from our daily routines to thank the creator."

Medicine wheels have been found across the Northern Plains of North America, some dating back thousands of years. For the past 15 years, the Siksikaitsitapi have been holding conferences throughout their traditional territory. At each conference, they set out landmarks to signify a spiritual connection to the land and an affirmation of interest in their traditional territory. The landmark is a testament of the Siksikaitsitapi's relationship with the land - a reciprocal relationship and also one of stewardship.

Nose Hill Park is an area of cultural and historical significance to the Siksikaitsitapi. Black Water explains, "The area was a look out for summer camps and winter camps. There is a view of the valley and people would look out for game or members of other tribes."

Black Water hopes that the medicine wheel will help educate all visitors to the area and share the history of the Siksikaitsitapi people. "It doesn't matter what faith you go with, our creator is the creator of all," he says, adding, "(The medicine wheel) is there for the benefit of all."

Michelle Reid, Cultural Landscape Management Lead for Calgary Parks, thinks the medicine wheel is a valuable addition to Nose Hill. “Parks play an important role in promoting Calgary’s cultural as well as natural landscape,” says Reid. “We are very happy that the Siksikaitsitapi chose this location.”

The medicine wheel is located in the southeast corner of the park, and is most easily accessed from pathways south of the 14th Street parking lot.

15 comments:

  1. I went and checked out the Medicine Wheel today! I love the story behind it and how it fits into the natural landscape. One thing to note is that the medicine wheel is located NW of the 14 St parking lot. Many people I met at the medicine wheel thought it was located SE of the parking lot. :)

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    1. There are multiple parking lots on 14th st, south of two of them.

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  2. Anything about the aboriginals is mysterious to me, and I love to know the simple-but--practical way they've survived a dozen thousand years.

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    1. "simple but practical" Kind of condescending there...

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  3. My class found it and didn't know what it was so I did a presentation on it using the information on this website!

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    1. That's fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

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    2. My teacher mentioned that a sign was going to be created. Can you tell us anything about it? We would be willing to make a permanent sign based on your wishes. We have made signs in the past for Nose Hill Park and other natural areas!

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  4. A sign would be a very good idea. It would help people understand the Medicine Wheel's significance. I saw it today for the first time. A young boy was fixing the stones as somebody had displaced some of them. A sign would help educate park users and perhaps lead to a more respectful interaction between people and our cultural landmarks.

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    1. Hi Carrie. We're currently working with the Blackfoot Confederacy to create an interpretive sign and hope to have it placed at the site this summer.

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  5. Could you please be a little more specific as to which parking lot would be best used to access the medicine wheel. I am aware of three parking lots off of 14 Street NW. Is it one of those lots?

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    1. The parking lot off of 14 St NW between the Winter Club and North Haven Dr NW is the best one for accessing the Siksikaitsitapi medicine wheel offering site.

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  6. My friend and I took a walk to the medicine wheel. It is wonderful to have a special place to be able to give thanks to our Creator which we both did with our offerings and meditation. We plan to visit often. Thank you for this great gift.

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  7. My friend and I took a walk to the medicine wheel. It is wonderful to have a special place to be able to give thanks to our Creator which we both did with our offerings and meditation. We plan to visit often. Thank you for this great gift.

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  8. What type of offerings can we leave there?

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    1. We followed up with the creators of the Blackfoot Confederacy wheel, and learned that people leave offerings of appreciation as a way of giving back. First Nations people leave spiritual items such as tobacco, berries or small pieces of cloth.

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