Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park

Southern Alberta

Standing stoically in the center of a First Nations reserve, Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park celebrates and embraces authentic Siksika (Blackfoot) culture and is entirely worth exploring. It's anchored by an architecturally stunning, ecofriendly main building that incorporates elements of tipis and feathered headdresses into its creative design. Within its walls lie a 100-seat theater showcasing cultural dances, a set of exhibits chronicling Blackfoot history and guided tours ($15, no photography downstairs) with local Siksika interpreters and storytellers.

Outside ($5), you can enjoy various trails, prairie viewpoints and a tipi village where traditional crafts are practiced and taught (no climbing the tipis, please!).

The history of southern Alberta pre-1880 belongs to the Blackfoot confederacy, an amalgamation of the Peigan, Blood and Montana-based Blackfeet tribes. Blackfoot Crossing, long an important tribal nexus, was unique in that it was the only place where nomadic First Nations tribes built a semi-permanent settlement. It was here that the notorious Treaty 7 was signed by Chief Crowfoot in 1877, ceding land to the British crown and establishing the Siksika reservation. After a visit from Prince Charles in 1977, the idea for a historical site was hatched; after 30 years of planning, the park finally opened in 2007.

To get here, head 100km east of Calgary on Hwy 1 and then 7km south on Hwy 842. The historical park hasn't yet made it onto the mainstream tourist track and remains curiously light on visitors.