A self-guided tour of some of Medicine Hat’s Historic Indigenous Spaces.
The site of the Saamis Tepee in Medicine Hat marks a historical location. If you take a short walk through the tepee, to the edge of the path, you will see the beautiful Seven Persons Coulee. You are also looking down on the very important Saamis Archaeological site. The area was once used as a late winter, early spring buffalo meat processing site by early First Nations. Archaeologists believe there are over 83 million artifacts buried in the valley.
Saratoga Park is highly valued for its connection to First Nations use of the area, Medicine Hat’s early industrial development and, more recently, to Medicine Hat’s Metis community. Use of the area stretches back to before Medicine Hat’s earliest days. The history of this part of the City can, somewhat arbitrarily, be considered in three overlapping aspects: Early Settlement, City Development, and Metis Community.
Indigenous artist Jesse Gouchey and the Miywasin Friendship Centre Youth Development Program spent a weekend in October of 2019 redesigning and painting the First Street underpass mural. The mural was constructed to show the dark and tangled times our women are facing in Canada today. The red dress flows across the mural and ends with the loose flowing fabric surrounding a jingle dress dancer. The increasing vibrancy and colours as well as details in the dancer show the resiliency and strength of our women, community and people.
Strathcona Island Park
Located along the South Saskatchewan River, Strathcona Island Park was home to First Nations and Metis. On the south side of the spray park and camp kitchen, are the remains of some Metis homesteads, although obscured now by time and foliage.
Veterans Memorial Park Indigenous Military Service
Thousands of Indigenous men and women have served in the Canadian Military, including all of the conflicts presented on Medicine Hat’s Cenotaph.
In some cases many members of the same family went overseas to serve, sacrificing much. Four Bliss brothers; Pat, Joe, Bill and Tassie, served in the trenches of the First World War. Tassie was injured, having his forearm amputated, and Bill Bliss struggled in his return to civilian life. Bill Bliss signed up in 1915 at the age of 19 with the 3rd CMR. Bill was wounded at Ypres in 1916 by shell in the trenches. He contracted influenza in 1917, was discharged in 1919 at the age of 23.
Police Point Park
Police Point Park was known as a safe crossing place for the South Saskatchewan River. It is home to many different plants such as chokecherry bushes and buffalo berries which have been harvested by the First Nations people for many years. Areas like Police Point would have offered sheltered camping with an abundance of firewood available for the First Nations people. Police Point has an important sacred history too. During the winter, an ice free part of the river was regarded as a breathing hole for the water spirits. The distinctive cottonwood trees have had ceremonial uses. Anecdotal sources have said that Police Point Park has also been used historically as a location for tree burials.
The Old Man Buffalo Stone can be found while you are walking through the park. Inspired by the Manitou Stone, this two-sided sculpture was crafted to be a guardian watching over the buffalo herds.
Miywasin Friendship Centre
Miywasin Friendship Centre is a partnership that targets the needs of the Aboriginal Community in the Medicine Hat Area and develops and maintains services to meet those needs. Our vision is to gather together and share, respect our diversity, celebrate our Aboriginal cultures and build our future.
Saamis Aboriginal Employment & Training Association
Saamis Aboriginal Employment & Training Association is a non-profit organization that was incorporated in 1998 and has been serving the Indigenous People of Medicine Hat and area since that time. Our vision is that all Indigenous people have pride in their heritage and have equal opportunity to pursue their goals, hopes and dreams.