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Memory Mondays – Wapaha Sk̄a Oyate: Living Our Culture, Sharing Our Community at Pion-Era, 1955 – 69 Revisited

Just over one year ago, the Western Development Museum and Whitecap Dakota Nation opened a co-curated partnership exhibit Wapaha Sk̄a Oyate: Living Our Culture, Sharing Our Community at Pion-Era, 1955 – 69. For November’s Memory Mondays, to mark this anniversary, we are revisiting some of the photographs we found in the WDM Collection that first reminded us of our shared connection many years ago. Whitecap Elders and Knowledge Keepers worked for several years to name all of the individuals in these images, sharing their oral histories of Pion-Era. We invite you to revisit these memories here this month and in our exhibit, on permanent display at the WDM Saskatoon.

To learn more about this exhibit, check out the WDM’s website here.

Whitecap Dakota Nation members group photo at Pion-Era after a tipi raising demonstration. The Late Elder and FSIN Senator Melvin Littlecrow and Elder Malvina Eagle have named all the people in this photograph.

Front row, l-r: Annie Royal, June Eagle, May Eagle, Jane Littlecrow, Mabel (Flying Buffalo) Bear, Shirley Bear, Malvina Eagle, Elizabeth Royal, Doris Royal, Doreen Royal, Evelyn Buffalo. Back row, l-r: William Littlecrow, Jimmy Littlecrow, Lorne Littlecrow, Wilbert Littlecrow, Chief Harry Littlecrow. William Eagle in town clothes, at bottom of tipi. 1957.

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Working with horses was central to Whitecap’s participation at Pion-Era. As skilled horse people, it was important to the community to show their horsemanship. Driving, rodeoing, trick riding, racing and demonstrating the travois were all featured. Here, the Whitecap participants drive a hay wagon while others sit on the flatbed.

Chief Harry Littlecrow sits left of the other driver. Row behind drivers, l-r: Jimmy Littlecrow, William Littlecrow, Wilbert Littlecrow. Women named on the wagon are, l-r: Annie Royal, Jane Littlecrow, Doris Royal, Jessie Littlecrow, Malvina Eagle, Mabel Bear. 1957.

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Jimmy Littlecrow with horse “Girlie,” dressed for a travois demonstration at Pion-Era. c.1960. According to the Late Elder and FSIN Senator Melvin Littlecrow, Jimmy was responsible for managing many of the Whitecap community’s activities at Pion-Era. He was skilled at setting up tipis and oversaw the travois demonstrations.

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Tipi camp at Pion-Era, 1955. Whitecap Dakota members named in this photo include Pauline Royal, May Royal (with purse), Bob Royal and Jane Littlecrow (Chief Harry Littlecrow’s wife). The Late Elder Senator Melvin Littlecrow, and Whitecap members Frank Royal and Warren Buffalo have identified these family members. The women’s purses in the photograph were made by them. Sometimes they would sell them as far as away as the United States. The cooking structure, baby and children show the week was a family affair.

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