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Banff Indian Days, Powwows & Other Events

Historically for Indigenous Peoples across Canada, wearing regalia, dancing, singing, and performing cultural ceremonies were banned by the Indian Act until 1951. However, exceptions were made when participating as an ‘attraction’ during certain events and festivals. This can be seen through our collections, namely with Banff Indian Days as well as other notable events in the area such as the Calgary Stampede, Banff Winter Carnival, and Hobbema Indian Days.


There are many photographs documenting these events and of Indigenous people posed in their regalia - including the Îethka (Stoney Nakoda), Siksikaitsitapi (Blackfoot Confederacy), Nehiyawak (Cree) and Ktunaxa (Kootenay). These events were a time for Indigenous Nations to come together and this can be seen through photographs of families, children, dancing, singing, and participation in rodeos and other programming held during these events. Many photographs taken from these events have been digitized and can be found through our online database


There are many other forms of documentation from events like these up to present day celebrations and powwows. Information can be found in sources such as newspaper articles from our newsfile section. To access these look for the Banff Indian Days file or files with titles involving powwows or ceremonies and those that pertain to the Îethka, Siksikaitsitapi, Tsuut’ina and Indigenous Peoples of Alberta. There is also information in our library pertaining to Banff Indian Days located in our infofiles.


Books are another place to look in our library and many discuss or have mentions of Banff Indian Days. Other relevant books in our library contain information on powwows and Indigenous ceremonies and the role they have played in the development of Indigenous culture. Most of these can be found listed under 07.2 in our library or  08.3 for more specific mention of Banff Indian Days. Some examples of titles includes The feather and the drum: the history of Banff Indian Days, 1889-1978 or American Indian poetry: an anthology of songs and chants.


We have sound recordings in our archives that contain conversations with Îethka (Stoney Nakoda) individuals and of songs being sung at Banff Indian days. Event and programming details, financial records and various other records can be found in the Banff Indian Days Committee fonds.


Another place to look would be Luxton family fonds as Norman Luxton played a large role in running Banff Indian Days in the early 1900s. You can check out those Banff Indian Days files here

The archives also holds several videos and moving images of Banff Indian Days featuring people watching and taking part in the various festivities. To see what these videos consist of, click on the video player below. 

Riding High in the Canadian Rockies, 1920 - 1950, Archives General File Collection, Archives and Special Collections, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (V8/accn. 6660)

For more information on powwows and other Indigenous events, try searching key words into our database such as Banff Indian Days, Indian Days, Calgary Stampede, events, ceremonies, powwows or pow wows. 

See How To & FAQ for more help on how to use the online database and to see how to narrow your search to Indigenous content. 

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