The Galt Museum & Archives is honoured to announce that it has been granted a Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) name: Akaisamitohkanao’pa. The Galt has been on a journey with Niitsitapi Elders Bruce Wolf Child (Makoyiippookaa, Wolf Child) and Mary Fox (Mia’nistitsiiksiinaakii, Many Different Snake Woman) to find a proper Blackfoot name for the organization that recognizes its place within the history, culture and social fabric of Niitsitapissksahkoyi (Blackfoot Territory).
The name was unveiled and received a ceremonial blessing by Blackfoot Elders on Monday at the Galt. Chief Executive Officer / Executive Director Darrin Martens (Aaká óóhkotoki, Many rocks) and Curator Aimee Benoit received the name on behalf of the organization, with staff and Blackfoot guests in attendance. A drum circle and dancers followed the ceremony, along with a feast.
“We at the museum are honoured to have received this special name as it speaks to the past, present and future of the institution and the space it occupies in Lethbridge,” says Darrin Martens. “As Akaisamitohkanao’pa we embrace working collaboratively with the Niitsitapi community and walking the path of reconciliation together.”
The Galt occupies a space that has a rich and diverse past. Since time immemorial it has been a gathering place for Niitsitapi to gather, camp, hunt and exercise their cultural beliefs and practices. As the site for Lethbridge’s first hospital and the Galt School of Nursing, it provided care to those most in need of medical attention. The transition of the building into a museum and archives signalled a transformation of the space to one of learning. Currently the Galt Museum & Archives is a community meeting place for all—to explore, learn, celebrate, study and create.
The Galt is now also known as Akaisamitohkanao’pa, an eternal gathering place.
Broken down into syllables, it is: a/kai/sami/toh/kanao’/pa
Phonetically, it is pronounced: a/gaa/sum/ee/doh/gun/ope
We are grateful to the Elders for sharing this honour with us, and for the opportunity to build good relations with the Niitsitapi community.