Historical Photos from the Tsuutʼina Nation

The modern-day Tsuutʼina Nation borders the southwest limits of the city of Calgary, but historically their territory was much larger. After Chief Bull Head signed Treaty 7 in 1877, the Tsuut’ina people were moved to the 280 square-kilometre reserve, which remains in the same location to this day. The Tsuut’ina people were formerly known as Sarcee, but due to historical conflict now prefer the Tsuut’ina name instead.

Mutsinamakan and wife in camp, Sarcee, 1880s

According to oral tradition, the Tsuut’ina nation separated from a more northerly nation, probably the Dane-zaa, and relocated to the plains. Prior to settling on their reserve, life looked very different for the Tsuut’ina people. They camped in tipis and hunted along the forest’s edge during the long winter months. Summer was a time of plentiful bounty and many bands would meet on the open prairies to hunt bison, collect berries, and engage in ceremonies, dances, and festivals.

Head Above Water, with two wives, Sarcee, 1880s

As with many other Indigenous people across Canada, the Tsuut’ina Nation’s culture has been threatened by the policies and practices of colonialism, including the Indian Act, residential schools, reserves, and the pass system. These acts have had ongoing impacts with Indigenous communities and have resulted in multi-generational trauma for many Indigenous people. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women are examples of the ongoing work of reconciliation in this country.

Sasakiu and family, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), in camp, 1880s

This post offers a glimpse into historical life for the Tsuut’ina people. I encourage you to read about reconciliation in Canada and learn what you can do to assist in this process.

First Nations camp near first Hudson’s Bay Company store at Fort Calgary, Alberta, 1886
Sarcee tipis, west of Calgary, Alberta, 1886-1889
Inashto-otan, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), 1887
Bell dancers, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), Alberta, 1886-1887
Sinipawksoyissi, Foxtail. Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), 1886-1887
Sikunnakio, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) girl, 1886-1887
Sarcee tipis at Weaselhead, Alberta, 1880-1889
White Knife, Sarcee, 1887
Sarcee bell dancers, southern Alberta, 1890s
Astokumi or Crow Collar and wife, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), southern Alberta, 1887
Siupakio and Sikunnacio, Sarcee women, 1887
Setukkomuccon (Jim Big Plume), Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), 1887
Astokumi and family in front of lodge, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), 1887
Two Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) women on horseback, 1887
Big Knife or Omuxistoan, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), 1887
Woman with horse and travois, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), 1887
Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) tea dance on Atlantic (9th) Avenue, Calgary, Alberta, 1887
Sarcee camp with Calgary, Alberta in background, 1890s
Camp of Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) people at Calgary, Alberta, 1890s
Bull Head, chief of the Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), 1890-1894
Joe Bear Cap, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina), on horse in camp with tipis, southern Alberta, 1895
Mrs. Dodging Horse in front of tipi, Sarcee (Tsuutʼina Nation), 1890s
Tree burial at Dead Man’s Bush on Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) reserve, Alberta, 1890s
Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) tipi, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) reserve, Alberta, 1890s
Two Tsuut’ina men, near Calgary, Alberta, 1895
Jack Head-out-of-water, Sarcee (Tsuut’ina) reserve, Alberta, 1899
Chief Bull Head, Sarcee (Tsuutʼina Nation) reserve, Alberta, 1899

The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

About Tyler Dixon 199 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.