According to legend, the Sarcee split from a northern Nation, probably the BEAVER, and moved to the plains, where they have maintained close contact with the BLACKFOOT, CREE and STONEY. Their acculturation to the Plains culture distinguishes them from other northern Dene people, but they have retained their Athapaskan language.
Captain PALLISER estimated the Sarcee population at 1400 during his journey of 1857 to 1860. Epidemics of smallpox (1837), scarlet fever (1864) and other diseases as well as wars reduced the number to 400-450 by the time they settled on the reserve. By 1924 the population had decreased to about 160. In 1996 there were 1225 Sarcee.
When Diamond JENNESS visited the reserve in 1921, the Nation consisted of five bands: Big Plumes, Crow Childs, Crow Chiefs, Old Sarcees and Many Horses. Before they were confined to the reserve, each BAND, led by a chief, camped in TIPIS and hunted along the edge of the forest during the winter. During summer all bands met in the open prairie to hunt buffalo, collect berries and engage in ceremonies, dances and festivals (see BUFFALO HUNT; SUN DANCE).
The Sarcee believed in supernatural power that could be obtained through a vision or dream and was enshrined in a medicine object (beaver bundle, pipe bundle) or a tipi painting (see MEDICINE BUNDLE). The quest for supernatural power, for bravery (men) and chastity (women) was highly valued. Marriages were usually arranged by the family and the gifts exchanged reflected family status.
Well-known leaders include Chief Bull Head, who reluctantly signed Treaty No 7, and Chief David Crowchild, a distinguished contemporary leader. The band is governed by an elected chief and counsellors. Though Sarcees have in recent years taken an active part in modern industries, and in cattle raising and real estate, efforts are being made to revive the traditional culture and lifestyle. The Sarcee Culture Program records historical, folkloric and linguistic material.
There are two band-operated schools on the reserve which most children attend, while some still go to public or separate schools in Calgary. Although many people attend one of the two churches (Anglican and Catholic) on the reserve, they observe Aboriginal ceremonies and feasts, such as the Beaver Bundle Ceremony and the Medicine Pipe Ceremony (spring), the Rock Pile Feast (summer) and the Christmas Powwow. Their annual Aboriginal Days celebration draws people from across the continent, and their participation has become an integral part of the CALGARY STAMPEDE.
In 2012, ABORIGINAL AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT reported 1,916 registered Tsuu T'ina in Canada.
Author EUNG-DO COOK
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge
The website for the Canadian Aboriginal Writing and Arts Challenge, which features Canada's largest essay writing competition for Aboriginal youth (ages 14-29) and a companion program for those who prefer to work through painting, drawing and photography. See their guidelines, teacher resources, profiles of winners, and more. From the Historica-Dominion Institute.
Four Directions Teachings
Elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq share teachings about their history and culture. Animated graphics visualize each of the oral teachings. This website also provides biographies of participants, transcripts, and an extensive array of learning resources for students and their teachers. In English with French subtitles.
A brief history of the Sarcee (Tsúùtínà). See also the link to the Tsúùtínà website. From the Treaty 7 Management Corporation.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...