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The Piikani Nation - Profiles: Joe and Josephine Crowshoe

Joseph and Josephine Crowshoe

Joseph and Josephine Crowshoe, ages ninety-two and eighty-one respectively, are the only remaining traditional Peigan Elders of their Nation.  The Crowshoes have operated their family farm for many years, which is where they also raised their eleven children.  Joseph Crowshoe is a member of the Anglican clergy and keeper of the Blackfoot Short Thunder Medicine Pipe Bundle, while his wife, Josephine, is the keeper of the Sun Dance Medicine Bundle.

Joseph and Josephine Crowshoe are respected traditional spiritual leaders in their community in southern Alberta.  The couple maintains cultural practices such as passing down legends and stories, using sweet grass in smudge, and using the ceremonial pipe. They were presented with the Order of Canada in 1991 and received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1989 for their work in preserving their culture and their commitment to bridging the gap of understanding between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people of Alberta.  They were also recipients of an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Calgary, as well as an honorary doctorate of humanities from the University of Montana. Mr. Crowshoe was a member of the official welcoming committee at the 1991 Royal Visit, and has a Citation of Citizenship from the Government of Canada. He was a lifetime councilor at the Peigan Nation.

Joseph Crowshoe served as an advisor on establishing Native American studies programs at both the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge. In addition to his work with post-secondary institutions, Crowshoe worked for twenty years as a cultural and spiritual advisor for the public education system on the Peigan reserve. He was also instrumental in developing the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretative Centre into a UNESCO world heritage site, provided editing assistance on the first Blackfoot language dictionary, and served in several provincial correctional institutions as a spiritual guide for Aboriginal inmates.

Both were people who have spent their life working toward maintaining peace in their lives and their communities.  Together, they are the vital link to the traditional practices of the Peigan People of Alberta but also to Aboriginals around the world.

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