We had the opportunity to visit the Cluny Fortified Village with the Alberta Archaeological Society this past weekend – it was also a chance for us to try tipi camping at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. The archaeological site and museum are both located on the Siksika Reserve just outside of Calgary.
Photography isn’t allowed within the museum galleries, but it’s definitely worth visiting. The museum goes through the pre-contact culture, the signing of Treaty 7 – the impact on the culture and community structures the treaty and Indian Act had, and what the community is doing to preserve and celebrate their culture presently. It’s worth booking a guided tour as they provide personal stories and experiences that add to the the information provided. When I last went (I think shortly after the museum had opened sometime in the mid 2000’s), our guide shared his experiences in the residential school system.
Blackfoot Crossing Museum
The tipi was set up just down the hill from the museum, they organize a gator to help transport your gear to and from the site.
Tipi at Blackfoot Crossing
Close up of the poles at sunset
The Historical Park is situated along the Bow River Valley and provides good opportunities for wildlife viewing. We saw 2 moose, some owls, countless songbirds, and bats while we were there.
The skies were quite clear the night we camped – unfortunately it was June so the sky was still kind of bright near midnight (it was also first quarter moon) so it wasn’t the best for stargazing.
Moon over Tipi
Museum at Night
In the morning we were joined at camp by 4 dogs from the Reserve (they also joined on our trip out to the site).
Dog waiting outside the tipi
The Cluny Fortified Village runs as a field school through the University of Calgary ( a chance for students to get hands on digging experience) , although the public can also join through the Public Archaeology Program.