First Nations in the Canadian Rockies

A large graphic of one of Peter Whyte's paintings and Walking Buffalo's regalia worn on his world tour are the features in this area of the Gateway exhibition

Listen to Michale Lang (Executive Director, Whyte Museum), discussing
The First Nations exhibition:


The First peoples have been hunting and camping in the Canadian Rockies for over 11,000 years. They left a delicate footprint on the land, discovered by archaeologists only within the past 30 years.

The story of First Nations people is just one of the many stories in the new Gateway to the Rockies exhibition being developed by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. We want your input and feedback on this permanent (ten year life) exhibition that we are planning to open at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in the spring of 2012. Tell us what you think of this and the other concepts and stories featured here. Let us know how you think we could make this exhibition more interesting. Please keep in mind that this is a draft of the storyline, not the finished product. As the stories develop, information will be updated.

Many First Nations cultures have connections to this place. In the memory of current First Nations there are the Ktunaxa (Kootenay), the Salish and the Stoney Nakoda people, of Siouxan origin. The Stoney Nakoda people were pushed west by encroaching waves of settlement and live today at Morley, in the foothills of the eastern Rockies. Until they were confined to a reserve by newcomers, they came to the mountains to hunt. They saw the mountains as sacred places.

The oral tradition of the Stoney Nakoda communicates a deep understanding of the nature and spirit of these mountains. The voices of the Stoney Nakoda continue to resonate through the mountains and beyond. In the 1960s Walking Buffalo traveled around the world with a delegation of First Nations elders to bring a message of peace. His regalia, made using a multitude of animals, became a symbol of the harmony found in nature. Walking Buffalo used it as a teaching tool on his travels.

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