Museum Review No.3
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Canada
Report by Sue Titmuss
Having the opportunity of spending a week in Canada last month, I went to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, which specializes in the history of the First Nations Peoples, (Native American and Canadian Indians as they were known in the past)
This was a superb museum, of international importance, and there was something for everyone, old and young, everywhere you looked. The museum covered a large area, on one floor, although on various levels, linked by gentle slopes in the floor, easily manageable for anyone. There was also plenty of seating.
The museum covered the history of these fascinating people, and included large and small scale models as well as actual artifacts, walk-in tipis and wigwams, examples of their food and cooking utensils, weapons, hunting and gathering methods and the later history of the arrival of the white people and the devastating effects this had on the indigenous people. Their history, legends and philosophy have been passed down orally through many generations but they also kept records with painted signs and pictograms, on and in their homes and clothes and on leather and skins. There were several opportunities to hear them speak their language.
In a pattern repeated in other parts of the world, (e.g. Australia) their children were forcibly taken away from their families and put into boarding schools, their lands were confiscated and exploited for natural resources and they were enclosed into settlements and reservations, and into a way of life which went against all of their beliefs and certain knowledge that their nomadic way of life would best preserve and conserve the land and its flora and fauna. To this day, they are trying to negotiate with the Canadian Government for the return of some of their lands, they have always rejected offers of monetary compensation.
This museum is a must if you are ever in the area. There is further information online.