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Traditional Life - The Tsuu T'ina (Sarcee) Nation

Tsuu T’ina Nation

Like the Piikani (Peigan), Siksika (Blackfoot), and Kainai (Blood), the Tsuu T’ina (Sarcee) Nation belongs to the Blackfoot Confederacy, despite coming from a different linguistic group than the other three Nations. While they share with their prairie allies various cultural traditions, such as practicing the Sun Dance, the Tsuu T’ina maintained their distinct identity and Dene language. Linguistically they are closely related to the northern Alberta Chipewyan, Sekani, and Beaver Peoples, as the Tsuu T’ina tribe is originally from the Northern Boreal Forest region. Legend explains that due to a quarrel between two brothers, the Tsuu T’ina parted with their Northern family over 600 years ago and migrated to the southern region of Alberta.

The Tsuu T’ina was a hunter-gatherer culture that relied on the wandering buffalo for sustenance. Their nomadic lifestyle changed drastically, however, with the signing of Treaty 7 in 1877; this treaty ushered in a new way of life that implemented living on the reserves. The Nation was relegated to Blackfoot Crossing, a reserve which is located by Gleichen, east of Calgary. The Tsuu T’ina Peoples were discontent at Blackfoot Crossing as they had to share the limited space with the Siksika and Kainai Peoples. Due to Chief Bull Head’s steadfast persistence, on 27 June 1883 the Tsuu T’ina was given their own reserve in the mountainous area of Fish (also known as Wolf) Creek, which is located southwest of Calgary.

While the precipitous location, and especially the Moose Mountain region, was imperative to the Tsuu T’ina Peoples for spiritual and cultural reasons, this culture revered all elements of nature and the natural landscape. For example, during the summer months each band would emerge from the forest boundary into the prairie region where they would form large camps. At these camps spiritual ceremonies were held such as practicing Sun Dances, transferring sacred bundles and painting tipis, as well as making pemmican and collecting berries.

The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s history is a complex and fluid one, as the culture had to adapt to the changing life on the prairies and integration of western cultures. This website will provide insight into the Tsuu T’ina culture, their history, customs and traditions, spiritual life, and will include profiles of notable members such as Chief David Crowchild and Chief Big Belly.

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