When people think of the Calgary Stampede, images of cowboys and rodeos usually come to mind. For over 100 years though, Indigenous groups from the Treaty 7 nations including Siksika, Piikani, Kainai, Tsuut’ina and Stoney Nakoda First Nations, have gathered together at what is now known as Elbow River Camp at the Calgary Stampede in order to share and celebrate their traditions and cultures.
Elbow River Camp is located on traditional meeting grounds along the Elbow River and is a vibrant part of the Calgary Stampede. It features 26 tipis owned by members of the Treaty 7 nations, many of which have been owned by the same families for multiple generations. For the duration of the Stampede, tipi owners camp at Elbow River and welcome visitors into their tipis to learn about their cultures.
The best way to experience Elbow River Camp is by taking a tour with one of the camp’s interpreters. Members of Treaty 7 nations give very informative tours that include information about the cultures and heritage of the different nations represented. The interpreters demonstrate how traditional foods like Saskatoon berry soup, tea and dried meats are made. They also are able to answer any questions that visitors may have.
People of all ages are invited to try traditional First Nations games with volunteers from the First Nations Events Committee. There is also a Bannock Booth at the camp where visitors have the opportunity to enjoy delicious traditional bannock as well as bannock burgers and bannock tacos.
At Elbow River Camp, visitors are invited to watch the First Nations Opening and Closing Ceremonies as well as daily Powwows and Tribe Days events. Each of the five tribes that participate in the Calgary Stampede Elbow River Camp have opportunities to showcase their own unique traditions. Visitors can expect to find exciting dance, drumming and storytelling demonstrations.
General admission ticket prices for the 2021 Stampede are $18 for general admission, $9 for seniors and youths, and free for children 6 years old and under. This includes admission to the Stampede grounds as well as entry into Elbow River Camp. Stampede Rodeo tickets and The Calgary Stampede Evening Show tickets are sold separately. Take advantage of the different Value Days during the Stampede to save on admission prices.
The Stampede grounds and Elbow River Camp are open from 11:00 am until midnight each day of the Stampede. The 2021 Calgary Stampede is scheduled for July 9-18.
Visiting Elbow River Camp
Elbow River Camp is located just inside the MacDonald Avenue entrance to the Calgary Stampede. Parking is available on-site for $15 per day. The Stampede grounds are also easily accessible by bus and CTrain.
Visitors should keep in mind that COVID-19 restrictions may impact the scheduled events for the 2021 Calgary Stampede as well as the events at Elbow River Camp. Make sure to check the Calgary Stampede website for the most up-to-date information.
Wendy Powell is a freelance writer and a contributor to Great West Media. This story was written for the Hot Summer Guide advertising feature. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.