A Portrait Of Treaties 7 & 8

Who are the people who descend directly from those that gathered at Soyoohpawahko or Blackfoot Crossing to sign an official document called Treaty Number 7 in 1877? Glimpses of the lived experiences of today’s First Nation people have been captured through the medium of photography by Harry Palmer. In the photographs one is able to see that First Peoples continue to celebrate success and face challenges as they navigate, at times, very precariously, in a world wrought with differing values and expectations. The subjects of the photographs, some posed, and others not, are found in various settings. The settings include pow-wow song and dance, recreational activities, gatherings for the purpose of celebration, prayer, or purely social in nature. This is the world of the modern day indigenous community in southern Alberta where Treaty Number 7 members make their homes. The photo gallery which forms the basis of this book will show the people with a passion for life, a desire to be best in that given moment, a need to present their best selves for the world to see. The pictures will show the beauty of a people, from the twinkle in the eye and mischievous smile of a youngster to the contemplative gaze of an elderly person. A single snap of a camera has preserved the focussed look of a competitive dancer or singer at a pow-wow, the intensity of love and affection for a child. The camera has been able to capture, like nothing else, a moment in the life of a people in their place of comfort and familiarity. The place may be in their home, with nature, among friends and family, or a community gathering. The camera does more; it is able to transmit to the world the commonality of all people, that shared happiness, love, appreciation and joy are universally relative. There is a distinct and unique culture at play in the photographs, which is what the forefathers and ancestors had prayed for, that their children’s children would not lose their life ways and their need to celebrate their place on this earth. The communities within and around the Treaty Number 7 area can identify as athletes, war veterans, artisans, musicians, medical doctors, corporate administrators, lawyers, teachers, anthropologists, archaeologists, virtually any career path. Every community has its’ hero’s, individuals of notoriety, and others that by simply being themselves contribute to the social well being by exhibiting perseverance guided by a gentle spirit. Images captured in the book’s photographs reflect a people that are content, surmising, or simply knowing their existence continues to be a reflection of their ancestral ways. The compilation of photos celebrates and acknowledges the individuals that complete the family, the families that make the community, and the communities in southern Alberta and northern Montana. A concerted effort must be adopted to ensure the increased understanding, acceptance, and respect for all cultures. It is the First Nation Elders that teach that all people come from the same root, regardless of the number of branches that spring forth from the tree’s trunk. – Audrey Weasel Traveller Audrey is an honoured Piikuni. Her husband Leonard Bastien is a former chief of the Piikuni