Saamis Tepee


The late Amerigo “Rick” Nella Filanti, a prominent Medicine Hat entrepreneur and philanthropist, purchased the tepee from the City of Calgary in the hope to give the city a landmark with some allure.

After being moved to Medicine Hat, erection and assembly of the major structural elements of the Saamis Tepee began Oct. 20, 1991, and was completed in less than one week.

The Saamis Tepee has a foundation weight of 800 metric tons, and the dead load of the structure is 200 metric tons. The main masts of the Tepee measure 215 feet (equivalent to a 20 story building!) and 960 bolts hold it all together.

Below the Saamis Tepee in the scenic Seven Persons coulees, lies one of the Northern Plains archaeological sites - the Saamis Archaeological Site. The area was once a buffalo camp and it is believed to have over 83 million artifacts buried there.

The Storyboards

Within the circle of the Tepee, ten illustrated storyboards are visible. These boards were all hand-painted and represent a variety of influences and history of First Nations heritage.

The Legend: How Medicine Hat Got its Name.

The Legend: How Medicine Hat Got its Name

Interpretation and Painting by Joseph Hind Bull

The scene depicts the sadness that overcomes Eagle Birth and his new bride for the sacrifice of a fellow human to the merman. The merman is excited over his new meal.

The Tepee is the gift the otter man has given Eagle Birth to use on his Tepee design. The blue circle, where Eagle Birth and his woman are drawn in is our world and the little blue circle is the merman world. The green half of the picture is the colour of deep water. The yellow depicts the brightness of our own world. The Eagle feathers are the truths by which every man lives.

The Blackfoot Confederacy.

The Blackfoot Confederacy

Interpretation and Painting by Henry Standingalone

This scene depicts the things that are important to Blackfoot people yesterday and today. The Sun was worshiped for its life-giving source to the Blackfoot people. The buffalo skull represents the Power and Spirit of the traditional food source and the painted symbols on it represent: Sun in the center, pairs of Sun Dogs on each side, Crescent Moon above, Morning Star below, and Hail Stones, or Thunder, all around. The tepee represents the main household that was originally made from buffalo hides, The Seven Moons is a representation of the Legend of the Dipper and all the legends that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Plains Cree Way of Life.

Plains Cree Way of Life

Interpretation and Painting by Nona Foster

In the center of this design is a late fall or early winter campsite, The trees are bare and it has snowed, the people are going about their business and preparing for colder days to come. Most of the tools shown are still primitive and most of the activities and skills shown are traditional and time-honoured. Around the bottom half of the border are traditional outfits. The top half of the border shows some of the animals that my ancestors shared the land with and used for food,clothing and shelter. Tobacco was used in many ceremonies and rituals.

Plains Cree Ceremonies.

Plains Cree Ceremonies

Interpretation and Painting by Robert Anderson

This painting represents some of the many ceremonies in our Cree culture. The four ribbons are representative of the four directions. The sweet lodge can be used to ask for guidance from the spirit powers, for a time of prayer, or as part of a ritualistic cleansing prior to any ceremony such as the Sundance. In Cree culture, the peace pipe plays a very important role. A pipe is lit to call upon the spirit powers. The smoking of the peace pipe also symbolizes peace and friendship. The stone border has engraved Cree symbolic lettering, which says “Plains Cree Ceremonies.” The rock is strong and by having the title engraved in it shows that the strength of our culture will never be destroyed and is permanent in its ways.

The Plains Indians.

The Plains lndians

Interpretation and Painting by Manybears

The relationship between man and nature’s survival. The symbol of the buffalo was our main source of providing man with food, shelter, clothing and tools, As you see in the painting, the buffalo has no eyes. He surrendered his being to the Plains Indians. The eagle is our spiritual direction and symbolizes our creator. The eagle sees that man is aware of his values and surroundings. The circle represents the creation of the universe and unity. Our creator made man and woman to carry on our native culture and traditional way of life. The tepee is our shelter and our birthplace to continue the generations of life.

Arrival of the Europeans.

Arrival of the Europeans

Interpretation and Painting by Marilyn Fraser-King

The original human settlers of the Americas welcomed these new people with open arms. Within these arms held trust, kindness and wonder. Little did native people know that these explorers would initiate a transformation that revolutionized the First People‘s civilization. No more was there the spirit of freedom that man belonged to the land.

Treaty #7.

Treaty #7

Interpretation and Painting by Henry Standingalone

In the fall of 1877, Treaty #7 was signed at the Blackfoot crossing between the Blackfoot and the Queen‘s government. The five Chiefs depicted in the picture are: Chief Crowfoot (Siksika Tribe), Chief Red Crow (Blood Tribe), Chief Bears Paw (Stony Tribe), Chief Eagle Tail (Peigan Tribe), and Chief Bull Head (Tsuu Tina tribe). Sharing the Pipe Ceremony represents peace between two parties. The promises in the treaty were that the Blackfoot would be ensured their survival and a continued way of life for as long as the sun shines, grasses grow and the rivers flow.

The Metis of the Plains.

The Metis of the Plains

Interpretation and Painting by Nona Foster

The Metis people came from a meeting of two powerful human cultures and the emergence of a new and distinct people; this is shown by the native woman and the pale skin man. The Metis sash originated in Quebec and was worn by the French Voyagers. The thistle represents the Scots, and the yarrow shows that these people still need plants in their medicines. The “North West Half Breed Commission'' paper is shown because the signing of the scrip gave the native people a small amount of cash and took away their treaty rights.

First Peoples Today.

First Peoples Today

Interpretation and Painting by Marilyn Fraser—King

Even though there is a passing of our Native culture from the old world into the new, we have kept our songs and sang them. To this day we still pass on the feather, we still sing, we still hear the stories, we still listen to the wind, and we still feel the power of the Northern Lights. It is a time to walk a path of treasure and enlightenment. This painting depicts the acceptance of both worlds and their challenges.

Circle of Unity — Multiculturalism.

Circle of Unity – Multiculturalism

Interpretation and Painting by Nona Foster

This is set on a dark and stormy sky, but there are breaks in the clouds and the life giving sun is shining through. Pointing towards the sun and bright light, the native warrior holds his peace pipe invoking the wisdom of the Great Spirit. The pipe represents the unity of all people and all things in the universe. The crossed circle is one of the very earliest forms inscribed by humans to express the cosmos, life has no beginning or end, and it is a symbol of unity. The cross pieces represent the directions. The different races of people are portrayed here by different coloured hands.