Tipi camping with the Blackfoot People

There is something special about unwinding in a tipi on the edge of the beautiful Bow River Valley near Calgary, Alberta, for a night of stars and storytelling.

Maybe it’s the sense of time unfolding. Tipi camping with the Siksika (Blackfoot) First Nation is not just an overnight trip; it’s a 1,000-year-old journey. You’ll be sleeping on sacred land that’s steeped in Blackfoot history and culture.

Blackfoot tipis were once painted the colour of dreams. The Blackfoot believed spirit beings came to them in dreams. These visions became painted tipis of incredible beauty designed to bring harmony and long life to those inside. It’s hard not to feel that same connection at Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.

When you arrive at the park, a cheerful tipi coordinator will get you settled in the Tipi Village. Your modern tipi is equipped with wood stove, foam mattresses, sleeping bags and even a cozy buffalo robe. Start your own wood fire and cook your own meals over an open flame inside the tipi. Clever wind flaps draw smoke away from the interior so you’re always comfy. Look up and you can almost touch the stars.

Sit around a campfire outside and listen to a Blackfoot elder share stories of the legendary Blackfoot buffalo hunt. Wake up the next morning and explore the site. Your tipi camping includes access to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park’s amenities. You might catch a demonstration of traditional meat smoking or hide tanning. Take a tour with a Siksika interpreter, or join a craft program and learn how to build your own hand drum.

When hunger hits, try some traditional Blackfoot foods such as fried bread, buffalo burgers and Saskatoon berry soup. During the summer months, you might even catch outdoor performances such as traditional powwow dancing.

Blackfoot Crossing is located near the site where famous Treaty No. 7 took place on the banks of the Bow River in 1877. Chief Crowfoot signed the treaty as an act of peace and prosperity. The interpretive centre shares Blackfoot history through four tipi-shaped galleries whose stories progress with the seasons.

So, instead of zipping up in a boring old tent, why not have an authentic tipi adventure in a traditional gathering place where the Blackfoot still enjoy a sacred connection to earth, spirit and sky.

Photo © Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park

Article courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.