Exeter City Councillors vote to return Crowfoot regalia to the Siksika Nation
7 April 2020
At today’s meeting of Exeter City Council’s Executive Committee, Councillors voted to return the Crowfoot regalia to the Siksika Nation.
The regalia, which include a buckskin shirt, pair of leggings, a knife with feather bundle, two beaded bags and a horsewhip, once belonged to Chief Crowfoot, an important late nineteenth-century Blackfoot leader.
In 2015, Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park (BCHP) made a formal request for RAMM to repatriate the Crowfoot regalia. BCHP is an interpretative visitor centre focussing on Siksika cultural heritage and the preservation of their way of life. The geographic area is of great spiritual significance to the Siksika Nation and BCHP is built on the site of the signing of Treaty 7 in September 1877. It is also the place where Crowfoot died.
After initial dialogue with BCHP, in January 2020 RAMM approached Chief Ouray Crowfoot, Chief at Siksika Nation. Chief Ouray Crowfoot confirmed that the Siksika Tribal Council, as the elected representatives of the community, would be prepared to take ownership of the regalia. He provided the necessary assurances about the long-term care of the regalia and financial information.
Cllr Rachel Sutton, Exeter City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Climate and Culture said, “When considering the claim for repatriation, the council recognised that the original injustices still reverberate today with First Nation Canadians. Giving back Crowfoot’s regalia returns control to the Siksika Nation over their cultural identity, dignity and authority and is the right thing to do.”
Chief Ouray Crowfoot will visit Exeter and an official ceremony to hand over the regalia will take place once COVID-19 restrictions have lifted.
Once back in Canada, the Siksika Nation will lend the regalia to the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, where they will be the care takers of the regalia.
Chief Crowfoot said, “As a direct descendant of the Great Chief Crowfoot, I am pleased that the regalia will be returned to its rightful home, the Siksika Nation. The returning of this regalia will contribute to healing and reconciliation and the Great Chief’s spirit can rest easy once all his belonging are gathered from the four corners of Mother Earth and returned back to his home.
“The Siksika Nation will lend Chief Crowfoot’s belongings to BCHP for display and the education of all peoples around their significance as part of world history, together with their journey to the UK and their return to the Chief’s traditional homelands.”[HH1]
About the regalia
The ‘Crowfoot regalia’ are thought to have been acquired from Chief Crowfoot by Cecil Denny about the time of the signing of Treaty 7 in Alberta. Crowfoot played a key role in the treaty signing which he believed would help protect Blackfoot lands and traditional ways of life; but the terms of the treaty were broken by the Canadian administration and as a result Blackfoot people have suffered economically and socially. The regalia were loaned to RAMM by Cecil Denny’s sister in 1878 and were purchased by RAMM in 1904.
About the Blackfoot Crossing
The geography of the Blackfoot area encompasses a complex of important historic sites. The crossing refers to a point along the Bow River which was not only significant within traditional patterns of bison hunting but also was an important meeting point for the Siksika people and their allies in the Blackfoot confederacy. The crossing was the place chosen for the signing of Treaty7. BCHP opened in 2007 and today the site’s huge importance is recognised by its Designated Heritage Site status and it is recommended to become a UNESCO World Heritage site. More information is available at the following website:
About the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery (RAMM)
Stunning displays reveal Devon and Exeter’s rich history and global connections. Exotic animals, birds and insects delight children and a changing programme of exhibitions and events means there is likely to be something different to see on every visit. Free entry gives everyone the freedom to visit many times and to stay any length of time.
Awards and standards include Exeter Living Awards 2019: Leisure and Tourism Award and the overall Platinum Award for best category winner; Museums + Heritage Awards 2018, Best Shop with turnover under £500k; Silver in the 2018 Devon Tourism Awards for Large Attraction; 2019 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence; Gold, Silver and Bronze awards in the 2017 Devon Tourist Awards; two local family-friendly awards in 2017; the Arts Council Designation Scheme; the Accreditation Scheme for Museums in the United Kingdom; Collections Trust Best Practice Award 2013; RIBA South West Special Award for Conservation and Building of the Year 2013 and Museum of the Year 2012.