Pounding hooves signal new career for couple (Wild Horse Show and Buffalo Chase).
PEIGAN FIRST NATION
When tourists travel to southern Alberta next season, they'll get a chance for a true glimpse into the past - and it won't be at a museum or in interpretive centres.
"I've seen tourists looking for something extra when it comes to Indians," said Pat Provost, who, along with wife Jenny Bruised Head, operate Sundance Traditional Tours. "This provides the live stuff where you can see something visual."
Provost and Bruised Head are talking about their Wild Horse Show and Buffalo Chase, a 45-minute show that demonstrates the importance horses play in the Native way of life. The couple has worked for four years to put together the show, though it's been a dream they've had for 10 years. The show takes place in an outdoor arena, located on land owned by the couple on the east end of the Peigan Reserve, about an hour west of Lethbridge.
Rows of benches border the arena and spectators are encouraged to get close to the fence to get a good look at the action.
"The buffalo are the big draw," admits Provost, "but we stress also the story of the horse and the changes it made in our life over the years."
During the show, up to eight riders from the Blood, Siksika, and Peigan First Nations demonstrate the grace of the horse as well as their own skills. A saddle bronc and bareback riding demonstration, wild horse race, and Indian relay race are all part of the show. The highlights are the herding of the 50 wild horses, and 10 buffalo.
The show, which started in May, is wrapping up its first run on the Peigan Reserve. Bruised Head would like to see it become, not only an attraction to tourists, but also to residents in the area.
"We'd like to see this be part of a Blackfoot class [in school] or a history class," she said.
Reaction to the show from both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal spectators has been positive.
"Most of the non-Natives have never seen a buffalo chase before. It's a good opportunity to expose to the world that we have this really good show going," said Bruised Head.
The Wild Horse Show and Buffalo Chase actually got its start in the 1997 tourist season when it was located four km past the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, and proved to be too far out of the way for visitors.
Now, located on Highway 3, a major thoroughfare between Head-Smashed-In and Waterton Lakes National Park, Provost and Bruised Head are hoping to attract more of a crowd. The federal department of Human Resource Development has supplied funding this year for eight staff members.
For Provost and Bruised Head, who have seen the concept develop over a number of years, it's a dream come true.
"It's unique, authentic, and its never been done on any reserve before," said Bruised Head.
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|Date:||Nov 1, 1998|
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