Local Ecology seen from the Blackfoot Paradigm OPEN HOUSE

Ryan Heavyhead (L), James Forsyth (R)and the golden eyes of Napi!

With confidence that short notice is better than none at all, I would like to extend an invitation to residents of the Oldman Watershed, to join myself and the staff of the Helen Schuler Nature Center in Lethbridge, for an open house event Thursday afternoon, January 14th from 2:00 – 5:30. We will be celebrating the unveiling of two new exhibits featuring models for understanding and appreciating our local ecology… one from a mainstream scientific perspective, and the other from a Blackfoot indigenous paradigm. These exhibits will comprise significant new permanent features of the Nature Center, and are intended to both raise ecological awareness in visitors, and serve as a bridge for further dialog between two important knowledge traditions.

I am of course particularly excited about the unveiling of the Blackfoot exhibit, Kitaowahsinnoon Ayaaksimmoki (Our Territory Shapes Who We Are), because this will be the very first time that an ecological model from this paradigm has ever been presented and explained publicly. Our exhibit is the result of dedicated work on behalf of the HSNC staff and the very last graduating class of Kainai Studies faculty and students from Red Crow College. It was a project undertaken during the final year of Kainai Studies, during a period when the program’s leader, elder Narcisse Blood, passed unexpectedly in a tragic accident, and a new administration shifted the institution’s commitments away from it’s previous Blackfoot-specific training focus. I will be speaking at both 2:30 and 4:00 about the concepts represented in Kitaowahsinnoon Ayaaksimmoki, about the resilience of the Kainai Studies students, and about their pride in the fact that this new exhibit will stand as a permanent monument to a very rare educational experience that our world desperately needs more of. Hope to see some of you there.

Ryan Heavy Head