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Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum doors reopen after fire

By Deb Matejicka
Calgary bureau reporter
Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 3:48 PM

Through the smoke, a new opportunity rose. 

The smoke was from a fire February 6, 2014, in one of the out-buildings at the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum in Banff, Alta., that caused damage in the main facility that houses the museum's precious First Nations artifacts. 

Everything in the main log cabin style facility had to be taken out and washed several times over to remove the smoky smell but that's when it became clear to museum personnel that they were being given a chance to re-invent the museum. 

"When we were putting it back in, rather than exactly the way it was which used to be a trail going around and you followed the trail around, we decided we'll make it more interactive and so we changed the direction. We'll be adding new things, we're making it so we can have interchanging displays and that so it should be very, very interesting," said museum Director, Stan Cowley.

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Cowley is also an honorary Chief to the five First Nations (Blackfoot, Blood, Sioux, Peigan, Sarcee) that are represented through photographs, real-life full scale displays and an impressive collection of artifacts. He says the museum will also be broadening its horizons to include the history of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and how western Canada and Alberta were shaped into what we know them as today. 

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"This was Blackfoot country and then when the Sioux came in here that changed the direction again and then when the Mounted Police moved in to the area and developed the treaties, you then ended up with a phenomenal history of this part of Western Canada," added Cowley. 

A special smudging ceremony was recently held at the re-opening of the museum with Elder Glen Stevens from the Stoney Nakoda Nation performing the religious service.

"This area is really a meeting place of all the First Nations, even before the white man came and I think this museum is representative of that and so it's great to see it re-opened and re-energized which is really what the smudging was all about," explained Bill Luxton, nephew of the museum's founder, Norman Luxton. 

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Fellow Elder, Helmer Twoyoungmen is a guide at the museum and was at the re-opening. He believes the museum is important in ensuring the area's First Nations is not only preserved here but that it will continuing educating visitors on the ways of the First Nations people. 

"I'm really proud that this museum is set up here so that the other, not my own culture, I would say the (….) white world, to understand our culture. We understand theirs and we hope that for the future we will balance each other and go together."

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