In the frontier days of the Old West Indian tribes of North America called the border between Canada and the US the ‘Medicine Line’ – a name steeped in equal measures of mystique and irony: What man had the right to divide the land and how could a seemingly invisible line do that? Follow the Niitsitapi, the Blackfeet people, from Montana across the Medicine Line into Canada, in the lands where natural wonder is all.
Reach the heights of the most spectacular areas of natural beauty in North America, the towering snow capped blue-mountains of the Canadian Rockies, the Backbone of the World to the Blackfoot Confederacy. With Blackfoot and Blackfeet history and culture as the “backbone” of this cultural journey, we wend our way through three of the Continent’s awe-inspiring national parks, Yoho, Jasper, Banff and Kootenay National Parks, following a trail woven in wisdom that resonates through this beautiful and ancient land, inspired by the Blackfoot/Blackfeet Confederacy, Nakoda/Stoney, Kootenai, and Cree.
Note: The dates for this trip are fixed, but if they don't suit your schedule we have a huge variety of alternative Native American trips for you to choose from.
Day 1 (Tues May 29) Arrive Great Falls, MT, shuttle to and enjoy a relaxed evening at the hotel prior to joining tour group next morning. Stay: Great Falls, MT.
Day 2 (Wed May 30): We begin where Montana’s High Plains meet the rugged peaks of the Rockies and Spanish mustangs wander in the distance. The tribes’ buffalo herd speckles the horizon. This is the land of the Niitsitapi – the Blackfeet Confederacy where under the Big Sky we begin our exploration of native history and culture. And on this our first morning, we step back to the era of the Lords of the Plains. Stay: East Glacier.
Day 3 (Thurs May 31): We learn of Running Eagle, one of the most revered woman-warriors of the Blackfeet, at the falls that carry her name in the sacred Two Medicine valley and experience Many Glacier, a rugged jewel of the wondrous Glacier National. Park, sacred heart of the Blackfeet Nation before crossing the US border. Then to Waterton National. Park, the internationally renowned Peace Park, an incredible valley where black bears are the not-so-elusive shadows of the land. Stay: Pincher Creek.
Day 4 (Fri June 1): Entering deeper into Blackfoot culture, we visit the remarkable Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World heritage site and arguably one of the finest interpretative centers of indigenous culture in North America. Stay: Pincher Creek.
Day 5 (Sat June 2): In the fall of 1869, John J. Healy and his partner, Alfred B. Hamilton obtained a permit from American authorities to cross the Blackfeet Reservation. Unintentionally, this permit had the effect of opening US trade in British North America, because once across the border, these men were no longer subject to American law and one natural trade partner was the Blackfeet Confederacy. Success was swift for the Americans, and trade increased exponentially as word spread to other traders, but decline was insidious for the once powerful and independent Blackfeet who became increasingly dependent on White Man’s goods. Alcohol was not supposed to be traded/sold, but with a name like Fort Whoop-Up, it doesn’t take much to guess the history of the place. With the buffalo being wiped out, and exposure to imported diseases killing two thirds of the Blackfeet Nation’s people, within a few years only reserves were left of the traditional original territory and the old ways were gone forever. The fort you see today is a fabulous preservation effort infused with numerous mod-tech storytelling devices to explain the trading era and gives the visitor a strong understanding how it felt to be Blackfeet in that dark era of their history. Stay: Calgary, AB.
Day 6 (Sun June 3): Blackfeet Crossing Heritage Center – a step into the past, in a land before time where we engage in the history, traditions, and way of life of Siksika nation and its people. We enter the Dreaming Place; four main tipi areas representing Blackfoot thoughts on Creation, Survival, Celebration and Storytelling, then hear of the relationship between the land and the Siksika people, and the historical significance of the Blackfoot Crossing. Stay: Stoney Nakoda.
Day 7 (Mon June 4): Historic and cultural narratives transport us from the realm of the Great Bear, the grizzly, Guardian Spirit of the Blackfeet and other indigenous nations at Kananaskis Pass, to evening story-telling by firelight. Here we stand, at the source where we can be immersed in the beauty of the land, the four-legged and winged of the land, and sights beyond the hand of man that rest in the heart and imagination. Stay: Stoney Nakoda.
Day 8 (Tues June 5): In a land painted with spectacular turquoise blue glacial waters, we explore the cultural significance of those wonders now known as Lake Minnewanka and Lake Louise, and we learn of the power of Elk Medicine in the presence of these high mountain monarchs. Stay: Stoney Nakoda.
Day 9 (Wed June 6): From glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divide to the semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, where cactus grows, Kootenay National Park is home to a rich diversity of landscapes and ecology. Our focus is to experience the Spirit of the Earth: the legend and practice of harvesting then making traditional earth paints. Stay: Stoney Nakoda.
Day 10 (Thurs June 7): When you arrive at the ¬Takkakaw Falls you feel like you’d have traveled an extra thousand miles to get to this sublime, serene place at the edge of forever. Here in what is now named Yoho National Park, we listen for Cree explanation for the falls’ being between the thunderous roar of the falling waters. Stay: Stoney Nakoda.
Day 11 (Fri June 8): Rocky Mountain House was a huge trade center back in the day, in fact it was the bastion of trade on the western frontier. Because of it, the Hudson’s Bay company became known as the Northwest Company and through it came historic interaction between tribes from the East all the way out to the West. This place is an incredible cultural crossroads which led to the forging of relationships between indigenous peoples and to the very birth of tribes and bands. As we return to Calgary we reflect that our journey has come full circle, traversing some of the most spectacular scenery in North America with tribal sacred and historic narratives weaving the sights of Yoho, Kootenay and Banff National Parks into an unforgettable and compelling story.
Day 12 (Sat June 9): Depart Calgary. The dates of this trip are fixed. if you need an alternative travel schedule we can arrange custom tours for individuals and groups, or you might join a different small group experience from our many listings.
We have outstanding discounts right now. The dates of the tour are fixed, but the price may not be. Call or email immediately to see if you qualify for DISCOUNTS.
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