I feel like I'm circling around what all these artifacts mean, without truly understanding the culture. What we experienced at Heritage Park seems tied in some way, but the meaning is not laid out. What emerges is a life in balance with nature, with the people moving in tune to the seasons, a sharp but complementary division between the work of men (hunting/protecting the clan) and women (gathering/making the home), and an underlying respect for all life in all forms. The spirituality is clear as many of these artifacts are sacred, with specific and undefined purpose.
|Beaded Moccasins, Siksika, 1900s|
One of my favorite mini-exhibits was a series of photographs on hair styles. Women, being modest and unassuming, wore simple braids.
The men were more flamboyant, with very specific purposes behind their hair dressing, plaited, supplemented with 'product', and embellished with beads or feathers. When a man left his hair unbraided, he was involved in something serious, most likely related to death.Children were warned not to copy the hair styles of the men, for the meanings were not always shared.
|Metis Fiddle, Assumption Sash, and|
Even the opening definition of terms at the Glenbow says that Metis are not considered part of First Nations. But I get a sense for those men who married into clans, that the Metis were family.
Our next stop: camping for two nights in Banff and then on to Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site where we shall learn more of fur trade history.