Indigenous History Month 2024

Date 25 Jun, 2024

June is National Indigenous History Month, and National Indigenous People’s Day falls on June 21. To honour and celebrate the contributions of Indigenous People, FIRST UNITED participates in several events, and amplifies Indigenous businesses, writers, and staff. We recently interviewed our Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, Avery Delaney (Blackfoot-Blood Tribe/Kainai) about a recent trip she took to her homelands and how she engaged with her culture.

You recently went back home and mentioned that it was nice to be back with family. Where is home and can you share a little bit more about what you did?

Home is the Blood Tribe (Kainai) located in Standoff, Alberta. The Blood Tribe is the largest reservation in Canada. It was honestly a lot of just spending time and connecting with family & attending ceremonies. It was so nice to be around my culture and ceremonies, especially my grandparents (they’re my biggest teachers). While I was back home I had the opportunity to visit two Blackfoot historical traditional sites. The Buffalo Jump located west of Fort Macleod, Alberta and the Sundial Medicine Wheel located near Carmangay, Alberta. The Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has huge cultural significance to my people as my ancestors used and relied on this Buffalo Jump for harvesting and for food for the winter and summer seasons. The Buffalo Jump was used by the Blackfoot people to lure them off the cliff so that they can be killed and harvested. We always use every part of the Buffalo. It’s located in and a part of the Blood Tribe. I was also able to help out with a traditional sweat lodge that was organized by my older brother.

Can you share more about the medicines that you brought back? What are they and what do they do?

The medicines that I brought back were prairie buffalo sage and sweetgrass. Sage and sweetgrass are two of the many traditional Indigenous medicines that Indigenous people have been using for years. Both medicines are used today when we smudge to cleanse the energy and to cleanse ourselves. Sweetgrass can be boiled and used to help with hair growth, and if you’re sick with a cold. I remember when I was younger, my Grandma would always make me sweetgrass tea whenever I was sick with a cold. Sage by itself can also be used to cleanse the energy of places and used for protection.

Can you share about the significance of Indigenous medicine?

Indigenous medicines have so many uses weather it’s for a upset tummy, sore joints, headache, or even the common cold. Indigenous medicines have been here long before time. “In all, Indigenous peoples have identified over 400 different species of plants with medicinal applications.”

Find more ways you can learn about Indigenous history, culture, and how FIRST UNITED is putting reconciliation into action by exploring the Reconciliation in Action section of our website, and checking out our list of Indigenous-owned businesses and authors on our National Indigenous People’s Day blog post.

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