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Taking Responsibility – Preserving and Teaching the Nakoda Language

In this mini language lesson, Armand McArthur shares the Nakoda language.

The late Elder Armand McArthur was a Nakoda man from Siyónide Nakóna Oyáde (Pheasant Rump First Nation). He was an instructor, both in his community and at First Nations University, specializing in teaching the Nakoda language. Using English alphabet symbols he teaches audience members how to pronounce sounds and words.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 1 – Introducing Buffalo People Arts Institute

The resilience of the buffalo is in our blood and we must re-learn and remember our relationship with the buffalo. 

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 2 – Making a Buffalo Bone Scraping Tool

In Part 2 of the series, Lorne shares his knowledge about and models making a buffalo bone scraping tool used on buffalo hides. 

Lorne Kequahtooway walks the audience through a demonstration of traditional tool making while discussing the history of the tools. The first steps in making a buffalo or moose bone scraping tool is to boil the bones and remove any meat or fat left on the bone. Once the bone dries there may be hair or skin on the bone that needs to be removed. Then, the edge of the bone needs to be cut at a 60 degree angle with grooves cut into the angled edge creating a serrated edge. The serrated edge is filed and sharpened which allows for a more efficient hide scraping. The last step of this process involves drilling a hole through the bone to install a leather loop handle.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 3 – Preparing the Buffalo Hide for Scraping

In Part 3 of the series, the Buffalo People Arts Institute prepare the buffalo hide for scraping.

A lot of work goes into preparing the buffalo hide for scraping. First, you start by spreading out the hide and washing it, keeping it wet so it doesn’t dry out and harden. Before working on the hide it is important to smudge and pray for the hide, to work with it in a good way. It is important to remain open to the teachings of the hide and reflect while you are working on it. Then, in order to string up the hide it needs many holes cut into the edges of the hide. In order to make the holes it is important to cut the fat off from around the edges before it is strung up, otherwise it becomes too difficult scraping around the rope and holes. After the crew is done scraping around the edge and the holes are made, they can begin to make the 10×10 frame with which the hide will be tied to and strung up so that they can begin scraping.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings – Part 4 – Scraping a Buffalo Hide

In Part 4 of the series, the Buffalo People Arts Institute demonstrate hide scraping tips and techniques.

The meditative act of scraping a buffalo hide activates and re-awakens who we are through both physical and spiritual memories in our hearts and minds. As we do this work, we remember that our ancestors were trained from a young age to do this work and by knowing this we feel connected to them. We do this work together and are committed to seeing it through which bonds us as women. Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway explains, “just like the buffalo we have made it through the dark times of colonization, and now we have to do this hard work to make it through the next parts.” For BigEagle-Kequahtooway, the buffalo feeds her spirit and by doing this work it makes her spirit happy – one lesson is to take actions that feed your spirit.

Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway and Lorne Kequahtooway are artists and leaders behind the Buffalo People Arts Institute (BPAI). Founded in 2015, BPAI became a non-profit organization whose mission is to share traditional Indigenous teachings and knowledge in order to raise social consciousness and create awareness of the power and strength drawn from blood memory and our connection to the buffalo.

In collaboration with NCCIE and Common Weal, BPAI documents the process of and teachings about buffalo hide tanning. This series of stories entitled, Buffalo Hide Tanning and Teachings, takes you on a journey of exploring connection to the buffalo while also reflecting on the social and historical realities of the buffalo and the people who rely on its survival.

The Story of wesakecāk and sihkos

This is the story of how the weasel was able to change the colour of its pelt.

Simon Bird is the Director of Education for the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and he shares his wealth of knowledge teaching Cree. At the Regina Elders Gathering held in February 2020, Bird encouraged audience members to engage in his Cree Bingo game. During the game he teaches Cree words and will often tell stories. This time, Bird shared the story of how the weasel’s pelt changes colour in different seasons.

On Natural Law – What are you dressed up in?

By believing in practicing all of the components of Natural Law we are able to protect ourselves from being vulnerable.

Vee Whitehorse of Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation presented at the Regina Elders Gathering in February 2020. Whitehorse is a leader at Leading Thunderbird Lodge where he supports Indigenous youth who are struggling with addictions. The holistic youth treatment centre offers opportunities for youth to connect with their culture, explore their identities, and heal. At the Elders Gathering, Whitehorse frames his discussion around the question: What are you dressed up in? He suggests that language, kinship, ceremony, and Mother Earth/heavens create a Natural Law and when you practice these components you will be less vulnerable,  insulated or ‘dressed up’ and can protect yourself.  

Mini Cree Language Lesson by Doreen Oakes

Doreen Oakes offers a mini language lesson for audience members at the Regina Elders Gathering.

Doreen Oakes was a Cree language educator at the First Nations University of Canada in the Department of Indigenous Languages, Arts, and Cultures until June 30th, 2016. In February 2020, at the Regina Elders Gathering, Oakes shared a brief Cree language lesson in this video clip. Oakes invites the audience to introduce themselves by saying hello, my name is and I am from, in Cree. For example, tânisi Doreen Oakes niya Nekaneet First Nation nitocin. Watch the clip for correct pronunciation!

Significance of the Number Four in Indigenous Worldviews

Lynn Cote discusses a circular worldview model and discusses the meaning of the sacred number four. 

Lynn Cote was a guest speaker at the Regina Elders Gathering held in February 2020. Cote spoke about the importance of stories and language learning. Lynn Cote is a Saulteaux woman and educator from Cote First Nation, located north of Kamsack, Saskatchewan. In this clip, Cote discusses the importance of the number four in Saulteaux worldview and the importance of the circular worldview model. The worldview defines our relationship with the spirit land and all spirits that inhabit it.

Dene Culture and the Catholic Church

Comparing and recognizing similarities between Dene beliefs and the beliefs of the Catholic Church.

Margaret Reynolds, a Dene woman from English River First Nation, shares about the differences in Dene beliefs compared to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, with an audience at the Prince Albert Elders Gathering in March 2020. Reynolds explains how the Catholic Church was domineering in the north and people have lived without their traditional culture for a long time. She understands that the Cree, Dene, Saulteaux in Saskatchewan all believe in the same way and these beliefs have parallels  beliefs of the Catholic Church. Thankfully though, a lot of Dene traditional ceremonies, songs, and drum are coming back after being suppressed for so long.