Tsuut'ina Cultural Museum hopes 'very, very rich history' encourages Calgarians to visit
Jeanette Starlight says she's happy people will see her grandmother's hand-beaded cape
Jeanette Starlight hopes the Tsuut'ina Cultural Museum will help bridge the gap between the First Nation and the city of Calgary.
Tsuut'ina Nation 145 is just southwest of the city and has "very, very rich history," she said.
"Every day, every visit, there's a new amazement," Starlight said.
"They're going to have some insight in some of the things that our people have made, have done, have lived. "
The museum will showcase Indigenous artifacts, including possibly the last beaded cape her grandmother made. Her grandmother's life was top of her mind on Friday, when the museum hosted a celebration to mark its official opening.
Dancers performed and people rode painted horses, and curators gave tours of the new exhibits of artwork, artifacts and stories, like how members of the nation used to sell most of Calgary's Christmas trees.
Several holy items are being kept back from public viewing until they can be blessed. Other exhibits have been returned to the nation after being kept for years from the community in non-Indigenous archives.
Starlight had a chance to go through the extensive archives before the opening.
"Through that I learned that our people were really tenacious," she said.
"We survived a lot of weather, we survived a lot of (prejudice), we survived the boarding school era."
Her own grandmother, who is believed to have been 105 when she died, saw a lot of changes.
She lived in a teepee and a house filled with the new inventions of household electricity and running water. She saw a man walk on the moon, and lived through residential school.
"I'm excited to see more people coming. They really need to see the progress we are making. They have to also understand we are still retaining our spirituality, our history, our culture and our language," Starlight said. "You can never take the Indian out of me. You can try, but it's always going to be in me."
She said the message her grandmother always gave her was to learn to understand other people, and in turn, respect them. She is hoping the museum helps the communities better know, and respect, each other.
"Having seen this, they can understand our plight," she said.
"We're still here," she said. "We're going to be here for a long, long time."
The museum is open weekdays at 62 Old Agency Road on the Tsuut'ina Reserve.
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With files from Monty Kruger