May 30th, 2024

Indigenous Craft Market sews a family thread

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on November 20, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard - Annette Bad Eagle of Piikani does some sewing as her son, Wacey, watches at the Indigenous Craft Market on Friday afternoon at Fort Whoop Up.

For Annette Bad Eagle, it’s been a family affair.
As the Indigenous Craft Market at Fort Whoop Up took place Friday afternoon, the seamstress from Piikani set up shop outside in the Fort Whoop Up courtyard displaying her vast varieties of sewing, beading, leathers, moccasins as well as traditional tops and ribbon skirts.
The Indigenous Craft Market at Fort Whoop Up was Bad Eagle’s first show, but she’s a veteran at her craft with a little help from her family.
“I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl,” she said. “My mother (Martha Smith) did sewing and beading and then my grandmothers did the sewing. I took on some of those talents. Then my dad (Gerald Smith) did the leather. He used to make saddles and he taught my children how to do leather and different things like that.”
Sitting with her son, Wacey, in the courtyard – and taking advantage of a mild November day to be set up outside – Bad Eagle has passed on her skills to her children, which also includes her older son, Jerry, and younger daughter, Jessica.
“I taught my three children beading, leather and cooking. (Wacey) took over the beading and I put everything together.”
Bad Eagle will also be at the Lethbridge Exhibition for the Christmas Show in December, but was already making work contacts at Friday’s First Indigenous Market at Fort Whoop Up
“I got an offer to join a group for quilting,” she said. “The lady is going to email me. She wanted to do something on traditional quilting, what our grandparents’ grandparents used with the trading of material. Back then they used to do trading for beaver pelts.”
Bad Eagle said her father also fashioned saddles, guitar straps and western belts before he passed away.
Those saddles will be part of Bad Eagle’s next project.
“I got into education. I’m doing a Blackfoot prop box,” she said. “So just before we lost him five years ago he started making little saddles. I wanted to do rodeo prop boxes for learning. He made me three. So I’m going to continue those. They’ll actually have the props in there and they’ll have stories. They’ll have the English version so you understand. Children can play with it and listen to the stories.”
Friday marked the first Indigenous Market taking place at Fort Whoop Up in conjunction with the Christmas Craft fairs.
“We’re very excited to be able to do this and to showcase all of the wares they have, all of these fantastic crafts, art, dream catchers, dresses and clothing,” said Chris Roedler, resource development volunteer coordinator at the Galt Museum and Fort Whoop Up. “It’s just fantastic to see what they have down here. We feel like we have a really great venue to show that off with and everybody who has come through has had nothing but positive comments.”
With the Indigenous aspect already at Fort Whoop Up, it made sense to bring in the market, said Roedler.
“So to bring it down here and be able to showcase what we have here and to be able to showcase the Indigenous side of things is one of the reasons we had it down here.”
By mid-afternoon Friday, the one day event was enjoying a consistent stream of customers.
“It’s been very steady through here and a lot of happy faces coming through and buying things,” said Roedler, adding the hope is to bring the Indigenous Market back to Fort Whoop Up.
“It’s been very successful today, so I would love to see it happen for many more years and to see it grow. If we can grow it from 11 vendors to 20 or 30, as long as we have the capacity to do it.”

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