January 19th, 2022

Galt program brings back memories for interpreter


By Dale Woodard on November 26, 2021.

Blanche Bruisedhead takes great pride in speaking of her ancestors and her tradition.
On Saturday at the Galt Museum, the Blackfoot interpreter who has been with the museum since 2002 was on hand for the Hands-On History interactive program – both for adults and children of all ages – for Reclaiming Landscapes, helping to craft and learn the Niitsitapi words for prominent locations in southern Alberta.
“They asked me to come in and do a presentation,” said Bruisedhead. “They have a program they were doing, landscape scenes. I call it paper mache, but it’s a different form. It’s really pretty. They do landscaping and the major topic was mountains. So I was giving the participants a little bit of a dialogue on the meaning of the mountains for the Blackfoot and the stories I heard growing up on the reserve and some of the stories that were told, just a little bit of information for them to give them a grain size of information. They enjoyed that and had lots of questions.”
Having grown up on the Blood Reserve and with the mountains nearby brought back memories for both Bruisedhead and those attending Saturday’s session.
“What I said to them about the mountains and growing up having them next door to me, so to speak, brought memories of their own when they were younger. A couple of them did some reminiscing. I think it brought back good things because they seemed happy to share the memories that were brought up by the things I said about the mountains and living in this neck of the woods, which is Blackfoot homeland.
“They grew up here, the memories were brought forward and they talked about them.”
Growing up on the Blood Reserve made her “a real prairie girl,” said Bruisedhead.
“Dad did a lot of hunting and there were times when I was a very small child, we would move right into our timber reserve south of Waterton Lakes and spend the whole summer there, dad hunting and us living in a tent along the river, a lot of memories.”
Bruisedhead said she loves the chance to share her childhood memories with those attending the Hands-On History classes.
That includes stories of family pets which came right from nature.
“I was telling some of the ladies I never went downtown to the pet store to get a pet,” said Bruisedhead.
“Dad and I would just walk through the forest, or I would walk through the forest. One day my dad found a three-day old fawn. He was a very profound child of nature, so he could tell the fawn had been abandoned, perhaps because the mother had been killed. We brought it home and I bottle fed it until it was a little over a year (old) and we let it go.”
Bobcat kittens were another childhood pet for Bruisedhead.
“I had one when I was about 10 or 11 and I had another when I was about 13 or 14 years old,” she said. “Both times we let them grow on their own. We’d tether them and we made sure they were safe. I didn’t handle them, we just fed and watered them and made sure their sleep area was cleaned up and things like that. Those were my pets, baby ducks, rabbits. I had my choice of all the different kinds of pets I could get and it was always free from nature.
“I raised these creatures and let them go.”
Today, Bruisedhead spends time at the Galt as an interpreter, something she has been doing since 2002.
“The exhibit I work with was at the ancestors’ exhibit in 2002 for eight months,” she said.
“I don’t work Monday to Friday, nine to five. My program is called the Blackfoot Speaking People’s Voices. I talk about the history of my people and ways true people lived their lives. I just talk from my being a Blackfoot First Nation female.”
Bruisedhead said she always tells people she loves bragging about her ancestors.
“They were so smart and they were so intelligent to be 100 per cent in harmony with nature. There was no Starbucks, Toy R Us or Walmart. It was them and nature and how they found food and fruits. Everything they needed, nature provided. They just had to figure it out.”
Bruisedhead said that’s the motto for her program.
“They figured it out. That’s how intelligent they were. It makes me a very proud First Nations woman to speak about these people because the seven generations I can call a bloodline makes me (feel) 10 feet tall.”

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