The main campus of the University of Lethbridge is located on traditional Blackfoot land on the banks of the Oldman River. To honour this distinction, the University launched the first Native American Studies department in Canada (1975). Native American Studies courses were also included in the University’s liberal arts foundation and still are today.
At the 35th Anniversary Founders’ Day celebration, Blackfoot Elder, Bruce Wolfchild gave the name of Medicine Rock to the University in connection to a legend about the disappearance of a mysterious rock on nearby land. Bruce Wolfchild explained that the Blackfoot people believe the rock has moved to the University of Lethbridge campus and that the campus represents a place to become wise and solid like the rock, and a place to heal.
The story of Medicine Rock can be found at www.uleth.ca/ross/aboriginal/general_history.html.
Another aspect of Blackfoot culture that FNMI representatives would like to see integrated in conceptual plans at a high level is the set of Niistitapi values which include, in no particular order:
- Way of life
- What we have been given
- Transfer of Knowledge