Heritage Park’s Yellow Otter Tipi
Heritage Park Historical Village connects visitors to the settlement of Western Canada, from the fur traders of the 1860s to the suburban families of the 1950s. History is brought to life through the many exhibits, artifacts, hands-on activities, and costumed interpreters.
For the past eight years, Heritage Park has been growing its Aboriginal programming, including the First Nations Encampment that shares the history and culture of the Blackfoot people. Each year, the park works to develop new programming, acquire additional artifacts, and hire knowledgeable and engaging interpreters, all to help paint a broader picture of the past. A painted tipi was on the park’s wish list for a number of years, and in fall 2014, that wish came true.
In October 2014, the Park received a gift of a Yellow Otter tipi design, in transfer from Louis Soop, Piipiakihtsipiimi, a respected elder of the Kainai Nation, along with his wife, Abby Soop, Matoiyohkomiaakii.
A tipi design must come from a dream, or be transferred from two people to a man and a woman, in a sacred, and spiritual ceremony. The Yellow Otter tipi is traditional in design and has been in Louis Soop’s family for generations. The design was painted onto a tipi, which was then presented during a transfer ceremony performed by Kainai elder Ray Black Plume. Heritage Park’s Public Programming Coordinator, Ellen Gasser, and Heritage Park Society Vice President, Joe Anderson, accepted the design, and responsibility for it.
The Yellow Otter tipi is a colourful and welcome addition to the park, rich in tradition and history, with a new set of stories to share. The tipi will be open to visitors beginning May 16, 2015.
By Barb Munro