Great Plains Culture & Language Gathering
The File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council (FHQ Tribal Council) represents 11 Indigenous Nations in Treaty 4 that consist of five (5) distinct cultural and linguistic groups: Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakoda, and Lakota. FHQ Tribal Council is considered to be the most diverse Tribal Council in North America because it encompasses five distinct groups. The Great Plains Culture & Language Gathering seeks to bring together Language Keepers, Knowledge Keepers, youth, elders, and citizens of our Member Nations, and all those that identify with the five distinct cultural and linguistic groups.
The Great Plains Culture & Language Gathering was formed out of a need that has been constantly discussed at regional, provincial, national, and international levels to address the loss, revitalization, preservation, and flourishment of Indigenous languages and cultures that have been impacted by colonization. This impact has had profound effects on the linguistic cultural groups in the FHQ catchment area.
After many discussions with Elders and Knowledge Keepers, from around what is known today as the great plains, all representing the five linguistic groups; Nehiyaw, Lakota, Dakota, Nakoda, and Saulteaux, this icon emerged as the symbol for the gathering. On the great plains, we are all a people that are governed by the pipe and all that it encompasses.
In the centre, the white buffalo represents the White Buffalo Calf Woman that brought the pipe to the people. The circle with the four colours represents the unity, on-going cultural practices & languages, and the doors to the four directions. The diamonds represent the tribes that have come together, with the green representing mother earth and the blue representing father sky.
The drum represents the beating heart of our Nations and acts as a shield for the defense of our cultures & languages. The two pipes represent the balance we all must have in our life; the male and female. The spear represents the on-going fight for our cultures & languages, the struggles we have come from to be here today, and the work we have yet to do. The five feathers represents the five linguistic groups of the great plains in this territory – Nehiyaw, Lakota, Dakota, Nakoda, and Saulteaux. The feathers also represent the male (dark solid) & female (white solid), both adult and child, and the speckled is for the ones that carry a dual identity, aka Two Spirit.
Key components identified in the preservation, continuance, and revitalization of culture and language also include:
- Food and Food Systems
These key components are highlights of the Gathering. Each key component is lead by Language Keepers, Knowledge Keepers, Elders, and citizens from our FHQ Member Nations or catchment area.
The unifying factor is the use of our own experts from our Nations. It is paramount that we seek to identify and use our own facilitators in this endeavour to zero in on the culture and language specifics of those that we serve. Not only will this immensely benefit unity, but it will also circumvent any pan-Indian issues. However, we acknowledge that the loss of culture and language is a crisis within our Nations and in the event a particular topic of discussion cannot be filled by someone from our Member Nations, then someone with extensive knowledge in that culture and language group will be brought in to fill that gap.
The Cultural focus of the Gathering brings together our Knowledge Keepers and Elders for an in-depth discussion centered around culture and may include demonstration and explanation of cultural practices. For example, what is smudging? How do you smudge? Why is it used? Is there a difference among the five cultures about it? Why?
Ceremonies are a big part of cultural identity, this component will explore which ceremonies are done at which time, according to each Nation. This will include such dialogues centred around songs, pipe teachings, lodges, and practices.
From religious/spiritual concepts to practical applications, the Cultural focus of the Gathering looks at all things cultural and culturally distinct as it relates to the 5 cultural and linguistic groups. For example, what is the difference between Cree, Saulteaux, and Nakoda beadwork? Why is there a difference? What are some traditional bearing practices?
The Language focus of the Gathering brings together our Language Keepers for an in-depth discussion centered around language. This focus brings the opportunity for educators, community champions, and citizens to come together to share concepts and practices about language revitalization, retention, and preservation.
The Language focus covers a wide area of level, ability, and delivery. From beginners to experts, individual retention to classroom curricula, The Language focus seeks to find solutions for everyone at every stage of development.
The backbone of Indigenous identity is our lands. Our lands shape our languages, cultures, foods and history. The Lands focus of the Gathering brings together our citizens for a comprehensive discussion that pertains to our lands: land, water, territories, agriculture, hunting, medicine gathering, and resource development. Addressing the common cold, basic teachings, language based – Medicines. Eg. “How to say Sweetgrass”. Ask male/female knowledge keepers.
Many issues are centered around our lands. How do these issues impact us as Indigenous peoples? What are some highlighted successes? These are just some of the topics of discussion.
Food is akin to cultural identity as language. Food and food systems bridge the practical and spiritual/religious. The Food focus of the Gathering brings together citizen experts in the areas of food and food systems. Examining our changing diets, changing landscapes, as well as incorporating our cultural practices, such as feasts, animal respect, traditional agriculture, and gathering practices.
The History focus of the Gathering brings together Elders, and citizen experts & historians for an in-depth discussion centered around history. How has our historical landscape changed since before the time of Treaty making to present? What are some of the historical stories from this territory? And how have those stories shaped who we are today?
For more information, please contact:
Cory Generoux – Communications Specialist
Phone: 1 (306) 332-8200
Fax: (306) 332-1811