Gateway Gazette

The Tradition and Ceremony of Headdress Transfer

Herman Yellow Old Woman performed a headdress transfer and gave a Blackfoot name to long-time Indian Events committee volunteer, Fred Saunders.

barry-munro-receiving-headdress-from-herman-yellow-old-woman-calf-robe-tipi-july-2016-550x733Many years ago, past Indian Events committee chair, David Johnston, was given an eagle-feather headdress by Eddy and Ruth Bad Eagle. Recently, Johnston thought about what might happen to it in the future. When he learned about the Stampede’s archival collection and the development of the Stampede Foundation’s future SAM Western Heritage Centre, Johnston knew where it should go.

Of course, one can’t just give a headdress away. A transfer ceremony must take place so that the recipient is aware of the responsibilities of holding a headdress and witnesses must be present so people know the traditional protocols were followed. They must be done by someone who has earned the right to perform such a ceremony.

David Johnston (centre, with the white hat) received the headdress from Ruth and Eddy Bad Eagle. L to R: Herman Yellow Old Woman, Ed Calf Robe, David Johnston, Bob Dyck, Russ Sabo and Roger Jarvis.
David Johnston (centre, with the white hat) received the headdress from Ruth and Eddy Bad Eagle. L to R: Herman Yellow Old Woman, Ed Calf Robe, David Johnston, Bob Dyck, Russ Sabo and Roger Jarvis.

With Stampede coming up, Johnston coordinated with Noran Calf Robe and Herman Yellow Old Woman to set up the transfer ceremony.

Calgary Stampede Foundation Board vice-chair, Barry Munro, received the headdress for the Foundation. His face was painted and he was given a name – Second Chief – as well as the right to wear the headdress for certain occasions.

Herman Yellow Old Woman painting Barry Munro face as Noran Calf Robe looks on
Herman Yellow Old Woman painting Barry Munro face as Noran Calf Robe looks on

Munro said he was incredibly honoured and humbled to be a part of the ceremony and to receive the headdress, adding that he took the obligation of holding it very seriously.

Respecting traditional ceremonies and helping to preserve the cultures of the West are priorities for the Stampede and the Foundation. This transfer ceremony was a very special time for everyone involved and the Stampede Foundation will honour all of the obligations and responsibilities of holding a headdress.

Barry Munro receiving the headdress
Barry Munro receiving the headdress

A second ceremony was held on Sunday morning. Fred Saunders has long been a fixture at Indian Village. He is known for providing help to anyone who needs it and helping things run smoothly in the Village each year. Herman Yellow Old Woman performed the ceremony to give him a Blackfoot name: Protector of Camp. Saunders was truly honoured.

Having the ceremonies in Indian Village reminds us all about what a special place this is. It is a place that has helped to keep traditions alive, and the Stampede and Stampede Foundation will always work to honour the traditions while working to educate people on Indigenous cultures in the future.

Source: Calgary Stampede

When you are visiting the Stampede be sure and stop by the Indian Village to experience the culture of our native peoples!

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