Lethbridge College signs on to Buffalo Treaty

By Ryan Clarke

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Lethbridge College kicked off its two-day Stone Pipe Days celebrations on campus Wednesday.

The  annual celebration recognizes the history and knowledge of Indigenous  communities on campus and runs through today. Showcasing Indigenous  culture with dancing, singing, and traditional foods, the college also  made a splash on Wednesday by signing onto the Buffalo Treaty as a  supporter.

“The importance of the Buffalo Treaty is huge for the college,” said Brad Donaldson, college president and CEO.

“It  is a major step as we move forward with our Truth and Reconciliation  journey. The buffalo is so culturally important to the Blackfoot  community, representing food, shelter, and clothing, the essence of  sustainability and survival for their people. Now that education is the  new buffalo, it is a way to create the future for young people.”

Last week, the University of Lethbridge signed on during its Indigenous Awareness Week.

“The  buffalo is a keystone species when it comes to the environment,” said  Lowell Yellowhorn, Manager of Indigenous Services at the College.

“But it also a keystone species in the support of Indigenous culture amongst the northern plains.”

First  signed on September 24, 2014, at the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana  it was signed by eight First Nations, four from the U.S., and four from  Canada.

Since then, it  has gathered nearly 50 signatures from other First Nations, working  towards an agreement to educate and protect the environment that is home  to the buffalo.

“When  we see these events occur and reoccur, new groups join on,” said Leroy  Little Bear, Vice-Provost for Indigenous Relations at the University.

“From the original eight that have signed on, it has kept increasing every year and so on. We are close to 50 now.”

Events will continue today with performances from Kainai Grassland singers starting at 10:30 a.m. in the Val Matteotti Gymnasium.

“Stone  Pipe Days in general is a celebration of the Indigenous culture here on  campus,” said Yellowhorn. “The Blackfoot name that was gifted to  Lethbridge College, Ohkotoki’aahkkoiyiiniimaan, refers to stone pipe.  The story of the stone pipe relates to the local environment here at  Lethbridge College.

“It’s only right that we engage in a process  to help reintroduce the Buffalo. It was almost extinct at one point in  its history,” said Yellowhorn. “Today is only Day One, tomorrow we have  another sate of events to share with the community.”

 Ryan Clarke is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the LETHBRIDGE HERALD. The LJI is a federally funded program.

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