Chief Stanley Grier of the Piikani Nation wants to know from Lethbridge School District No. 51 and Chinook High School what action they will take to uphold the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, after their students held a Cowboys and Indians-themed grad party, painting their faces and wearing First Nations-inspired dress and feathers.
The Piikani Nation of the Blackfoot Confederacy in southern Alberta is located just minutes from Lethbridge. In a press release Chief Grier explained that Indigenous regalia, face paint and headdresses are sacred to the Blackfoot people, given to individuals in transfer ceremonies so the individuals have the right to use and carry them.
He applauded a student, Tieja Medicine Crane, for having the courage to take the steps she did to draw public attention to the grad party and address the wrongs with her peers and the broader community.
“In 2017, our people across North America are standing up against cultural misappropriation of our sacred items and names during concerts, art, stories, holidays, parties and sports teams. Our culture and traditions, more than ever, need to be protected and respected,” said Grier.
“It is deeply concerning and sad that we need to continually defend and protect what is sacred to us as Blackfoot people.”
Lethbridge is original traditional Blackfoot Confederacy territory, which predates Canada by centuries, reads the statement. The Lethbridge school district 51 has more than 800 Indigenous students in their schools.