Sitting atop the cliffs of what was once a buffalo jump, with the winding Bow River flowing below, the impressive Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park stands, marking the place where Treaty 7 was signed in 1877.
About 100 kilometres southeast of Mohkinstsis (Calgary) on the Siksika First Nation, the national historic site and interpretive centre holds a collection of Indigenous artifacts and exhibits that offer a glimpse into Alberta’s and Canada’s past, including the story of Is’sapomahsika (Chief Crowfoot) and the signing of Treaty 7.
Passing through the doors of Blackfoot Crossing is like taking a trip back in time. With a vast collection of traditional and modern-day Indigenous regalia that includes some of Chief Crowfoot’s clothing that had been in England’s possession since the 1870s, a full-sized buffalo, Blackfoot encampment replicas, a display of the Indian Act of 1876, which maintains much of its original form and remains in effect today, walking trails and interpreter-led tours of the area, and a cafeteria that serves Blackfoot cuisine, Blackfoot Crossing delights history buffs and those wanting to advance their journey of reconciliation alike.
According to lore and history books, Chief Crowfoot was the primary negotiator between the Crown (the federal government) and the Blackfoot Confederacy, which consists of the First Nations of southern Alberta (Siksika, Kaini, Piikani, Tsuut’ina and Nakoda). Without Chief Crowfoot’s influence, it’s unlikely the seventh of the 11 numbered treaties signed in Canada between 1871 to 1921 would have succeeded. And without it, southern Alberta and Canada would be a very different place today.
For Chief Crowfoot and others, signing the treaty meant sharing the land with the “newcomers,” and ensuring protection and survival for the Indigenous people of southern Alberta. Signing Treaty 7 also allowed for the construction of the railway that crosses through Blackfoot territory to connect the prairies to other parts of the country.
While June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada, sites like Blackfoot Crossing are open year-round across the country to offer visitors the chance to deepen their understanding of Indigenous history and celebrate the rich cultures that helped shaped Canada’s landscape and story.
Throughout June, there are celebrations and events taking place in communities to recognize the rich history, heritage, resilience and diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Suncor’s headquarters are on the traditional and ancestral lands of the Treaty 7 and Métis Region Three peoples.