The world's first postcolonial theme park visits Blackfoot territory

·3 min read

A journey designed to guide visitors down a path of history, culture and reconciliation is coming to Fort Whoop-Up this week.

The University of Lethbridge, in collaboration with the Galt Museum, is preparing to offer a truly unique experience for guests of all ages.

The event, titled -tzintlán (seent-LAWN), is being put on by students in the Landmarks class from the Faculty of Fine Arts at the U of L.

This event is meant to offer a ‘Disneyland’ like experience but from the heart of Blackfoot territory and culture.

Migueltzinta Solís, assistant professor of Indigenous art, says -tzintlán is an art carnival that will feature a variety of exhibits from live performances to multimedia displays and immersive experiences.

He says the carnival is set to feature stories from the land that have been subdued over the years as a result of colonialism.

“The idea of -tzintlán doing the art takeover of (Fort Whoop-Up) is to make room for other stories,” said Solís.

He says students from the Landmark class have been working all term on this project.

“They start from a blank slate, so they have to, through a process of design and discussion … develop an original work,” said Solís.

He says there is a unique blend of individual effort and group work put into this event.

“It’s cool because there’s both that individual creative element but also a very strong collaborative component that’s really part of the ethos of the whole project,” said Solís.

Sharing these thoughts is the curator from the Galt Museum, Tyler Stewart.

He says -tzintlán offers a chance for university students share their thoughts on important topics such as colonialism.

However, he says guests who visit -tzintlán will be able to experience the event in a lighter tone as well as one with a seriousness to match the gravity of the topic.

“When visitors come experience -tzintlán, they can engage at different levels. Whether they’re just beginning their journey of truth and reconciliation … or whether they’re taking action in their everyday lives,” said Stewart.

Stewart says he believes the idea of the program being taught at Fort Whoop-Up, rather than in a traditional classroom setting has enabled students to learn in a new light.

“A university program outside of the university space helped students think about things in a different way,” said Stewart.

Furthermore, Solís says the event is keeping in line with a modern form of art and education.

“This project is a part of a wave of these art events that go beyond the gallery walls,” said Solís.

He says this new wave is literally shifting the way people see art and history.

“The definition of art is changing and I hope that it’s more accessible to people,” said Solís.

-tzintlán opens its doors on May 11 at 5 until 9 p.m. The same hours are available on May 12 and May 13 sees the final day of the event open from 1 to 5 p.m.

The event is free to attend and it is for the entire family to enjoy.

Justin Sibbet, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald