The North American Great Plains is home to over 30 First Nations from most of the continent's language families. Glenbow Museum's collection focuses on people from the northwestern Plains, especially Nisitapii (Blackfoot-speaking people), Tsuu T'ina, Cree, and Anishinabe. Their bead, porcupine quill, and painted artwork reflect how each culture developed unique artistic traditions that reflected important connections between people and the rest of creation.
The Arctic is one of the harshest environments on earth. There is also great regional diversity, from the rainy coast of Alaska to the desert of the High Arctic. Inuit within each region developed clothing, qajait (kayak), and tool styles that reflect these regional differences. This variation is reflected in contemporary artistic traditions.
The people of the Northwest Coast rely on the sea and forests for their livelihood. Glenbow has excellent collections from the Kwakwaka'wak and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples, representing their daily activities and ceremonial art. We also have extensive collections from other areas of the coast, including Coast Salish basketry and weaving, a large collection of Haida argillite, and carvings, weavings, and utensils from the Tlingit, Tsimshian, Nisga'a, Nuxalk, and Heiltsuk.
When European fur traders arrived in Western Canada, they discovered they could not survive without the help of First Nations people. Many of these newcomers married Native women who could translate the language, advise on cultural matters, and sew useful clothing. Their children — the Métis — brought an understanding of Native and non-Native cultures to everything they did.
Other First Peoples
Glenbow Museum has items from First Nations from all regions of Canada. Clothing and decorated containers from the Dene of the Subarctic, the Iroquoin speaking people of the eastern woodland, and the Mi'maq of the Atlantic coast illustrate the cultural diversity of Canada's First Peoples.
If you already know which area of the collections you would like to search, select the database from the drop-down menu below. To find out which areas of the collection are searchable online and how to search the collections, click here.