South Peace News
Indigenous culture returned for the first time in about 50 years to the High Prairie Elks Pro Rodeo held July 31 and Aug. 1.
The Treaty 8 Tipi Camp presented local communities with seven tipis in the northeast corner of the rodeo site as a dream of longtime rodeo supporter Frank Pratt.
“Most of our rodeo customers and supporters are Indigenous and we want to make them feel important and welcome,” Pratt says.
He notes it was about 50 years since a similar camp was previously set up.
“It was my dream to bring the First Nations back,” says Pratt, 92.
He remembers in the early years of rodeo – even before the Elks Pro Rodeo – that teams of First Nations people would travel by wagon from far and camp on the rodeo grounds about one week before the event.
Organizers were delighted and honoured to be part of the rodeo again.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for us to break down barriers of culture and to show we are all the same,” says Trina Okimaw-Scott, executive assistant of Driftpile Cree Nation.
“We hope it only gets bigger and better.”
She says it’s also an ideal time to teach the Indigenous culture and traditions to other cultures.
Organizers were approached about two weeks before the rodeo to host the camp, she says.
People from Driftpile, Sucker Creek and Whitefish and Atikameg participated, says Okimaw-Scott, who trusts participation will grow in the coming years.