The spirit of Saskatchewan is reflected in the culture, history and traditions of First Nations and Métis people. Stories of Saskatchewan’s past include tales of legendary chiefs like Poundmaker and Big Bear, and Métis leaders Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont. Today’s modern Saskatchewan Aboriginal culture is one that honours the past while building toward an exciting future.
The experience of Saskatchewan’s First Nations, their knowledge of the land, and their vibrant culture can be explored at heritage sites, museums, galleries and events throughout the province. Visitors are invited to build a tipi, create Aboriginal handcrafts, prepare a hide or taste delicious bannock. Ancient tales of people who have lived on this land for thousands of years are told in detail and with passion.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park, one of Canada’s National Historic Sites, brings to life the history and culture of the Northern Plains Indians. The Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre houses a collection of artifacts relating to First Nations, Métis and pioneer history from 1870 to 1905.
The First Nations Gallery at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina focuses on the art, traditions and lifestyles of Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal peoples. Authentic Native heritage programs allow visitors to immerse themselves in this fascinating and spiritual culture.
Métis Heritage and Tradition
Saskatchewan’s Métis are descendants of First Nations women and mainly Scottish and French explorers and fur traders. The merging of two very different cultures created a vibrant new culture. Métis celebrations come alive with colour and energy, and music plays a central role.
In 1885, Louis Riel led Métis and First Nations people in an armed uprising against the Canadian government. The uprising became known as the North West Resistance, and was the last military conflict on Canadian soil. Experience this fascinating and defining moment in Canadian history at Batoche National Historic Site (see video below). Back to Batoche Days, a summer highlight in Saskatchewan, offers an exciting taste of Métis heritage and tradition.
Trails of 1885
Trails of 18852010 marked the 125th anniversary of the Northwest Resistance, which played a major role in Canadian history. Visit www.trailsof1885.com to learn more.
Powwows rank as one of the highlights of the Saskatchewan summer. Beads, bells, porcupine quills and feathers decorate the brilliant outfits of dancers who step, swirl and jingle in time to powerful drumming and the chant of the singers.
The stately grace of the women’s jingle dance, the passion of the men’s fancy dance, the energy of the youth dances – each has its own history and meaning, preserved through the centuries. Friendly competitions, good food and companionship are all part of the experience. Firmly rooted in tradition, the powwow today continues to be an important cultural and social gathering.