The World’s Largest Tepee
Posted September 28, 2013on:
It is hard to miss this towering edifice as you drive through Medicine Hat, Alberta on the Trans-Canada Highway. Medicine Hat is my home town and I have driven past this landmark many times. This summer my trusty assistant, (also known as my 12 year-old grandson) and I decided to drive up to the Tepee and have a better look. I have no idea why I had not done this much sooner.
Originally constructed for the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics, the Saamis Tepee is a tribute to Canada’s native heritage. The colours of the structure are symbolic, white for purity, red for the rising and setting sun and blue for the flowing river. There are ten round story-boards built into the tepee depicting native culture and history. It is the World’s Tallest Teepee standing over 20 stories high, weighing 200 tonnes and capable of withstanding 150 mph winds. It was brought to Medicine Hat by local businessman Rick Filanti in 1991.
We were both fascinated by the storyboards inside the Tepee, all hand painted by various First Nations and Metis artists.
This one, The Legend: How Medicine Hat Got Its Name, by Joseph Hind Bull, depicts one of the legends of how Medicine Hat got its name,
This one, called Circle of Unity-Multiculturalism by Nona Foster. portrays the different races by different coloured hands.
This one called, The Plains Indians, by Manybears, shows the relationship between man and nature’s survival.
This storyboard represents Treaty 7, signed at Blackfoot Crossing in 1877, painted by Henry Standingalone.
The storyboard on the left, The Blackfoot Confederacy, by Henry Standingalone, and the one of the right, Plains Cree Way of Life, by Nona Foster, depict the two major groups that populated the area and the things that were important to each.
Each storyboard comes with a detailed interpretation by the artist and represents a variety of influences and history of the First Nations heritage.
There was something magical about standing inside the large Tepee on a hot, sunny, prairie day. It made me realize what a rich cultural heritage my country has. I used to think of it as a young country with not much history. I realize how wrong I was.