Survival Tipi

The years following the signing of Treaty 7 brought difficult times for Siksika people. The buffalo disappeared, and government-appointed (Kinnonna) Indian agents dictated many aspects of their lives. Poor rations, residential schools, government-supervised farming and ranching, churches, housing, coal mining all had major impacts.

In 1910 a large portion of Siksika land was auctioned off to private landowners and the Canadian government. While ensuing years brought short-term prosperity, it also created many problems. In spite of it all, the Siksika people managed to build on their traditional foundations, and with the strength of their families they survived the best they could.

The Indian Act continued to influence almost every part of Siksika life. The Government of Canada appointed Indian agents who administered the Act and had the power to enforce it. They kept careful control over band finances, administration, housing and the distribution of rations.

Under the direction of farming instructors and the agents, the people were encouraged to raise cattle and plant crops. Some went to work in coal mines on the reserve.

Residential schools were operated by the Anglican and Catholic churches on behalf of the Government. Attendance was enforced by the Indian agent.

Most people did what they had to do to survive and maintain their family ties, friendships, culture and language.

Awoh’tsowokoottsiya- Trade

Although Niitsitapi had everything they needed in the early times to survive, they traded with other tribes for materials not found on the plains. Stone for pipes and weapons and shells for decoration were obtained. The trading process was based on respect and certain protocol.

When the first Europeans began to trade in North America, their goods made their way to the plains through the other tribes. Guns, ammunition, knives, tools, tobacco, flour, sugar, tea, cloth, blankets, household utensils, shells and beads were just some of the valuable and coveted items.

As the fur traders moved into the territory, they established trading posts and tried to convince Siksika to trap and trade furs. They were not interested but provided buffalo robes, meat, pemmican and horses for the goods offered by the traders.





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