Michael Meguinis has a long family history at Indian Village, where tourists have been invited to see his tipi and learn more about Tsuut’ina culture. He’s been in no rush to change the name.
“It doesn’t bother me but some other people, it bothers them,” said Meguinis, sitting outside his tipi Thursday on the Stampede grounds.
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Both Indian Village the place and the name are packed with historical significance.
In 1912, the First Nations of Treaty 7 were invited by Guy Weadick, the founder of the Calgary Stampede. It was a safe place for Indigenous people to maintain their culture. “We weren’t allowed to get off the reserve without a permit and it gave us all opportunity to come in and dance and sing, which was against the law back then. “Even my mom and dad, they were going to be put in jail if they taught us our language,” Meguinis said.
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Recently, there’s been a a lot of talk about changing the name but every year, the owners of the 26 tipis at Indian Village have decided to keep it for historical reasons.
“I feel the same way a lot of people probably felt when they were asked if they wanted it changed. My grandparents came to the Indian Village,” Lowa Bebee, the chair of the Stampede Indian Events Committee, said on Thursday.
But this year, Bebee said the tipi owners decided it was time for a change.
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After years of discussions with the Calgary Stampede, the tipi owners are ready to announce a name change. An official announcement will be made on Sunday, the last day of Stampede.
Bebee insists there was no pressure from the Calgary Stampede to dump the old name. “The term ‘Indian Village’ is awkward because it’s fallen out of use,” said John Fischer, the director of Mount Royal University’s Iniskim Centre. “It does speak to the past and as we move ahead with reconciliation and increased understanding of Indigenous peoples as modern and strong and resilient, that name is not representative of who we are as people,” Fischer said.
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He said the name belongs in the past because it comes from the 1876 Indian Act, where the government decided who was and wasn’t Indigenous.
Fischer recognizes the important of Weadick and his role in building relationships between the Calgary Stampede and Indigenous people of Treaty 7 but he’s pleased it was the tipi owners who decided to change the name.
“The history of the village in the Stampede and the connections and relationships that Treaty 7 holds with the Stampede will continue and will never diminish because of a name change and terminology that has fallen out of use,” Fischer said.© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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