This Tepee was an engineering challenge to rival the Eiffel Tower
Credits: CBC Arts
Standing 65 metres tall and made of 200 metric tonnes of steel, the massive structure tells vital stories inside, featuring 10 painted storyboards by Indigenous artists.
In this episode of Big Things Small Towns, Tamarra revisits a giant landmark that left quite an impact on her as a child and it’s just as impressive and towering to her today, even though she’s grown a bit since then: Medicine Hat’s massive Sammis Tepee. “Sammis” in Sammis Tepee comes from the Blackfoot word for medicine and was originally constructed for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. Because of the structure’s unique stress points, building the tepee was no simple task. It ended up being a greater engineering challenge than the Eiffel Tower! Its final form now is completely different than what it originally looked like at the Olympics — just the two main trusses remain, and the rest was all engineered and manufactured in Medicine Hat.
About Big Things Small Towns
At one time, the largest things spreading across the Canadian prairies were grain elevators and Ukrainian church domes, but in the 1990s, citizens of small towns began building their own roadside giants. Some relevant to the times, some questionably random and some still popping up today.
On Big Things Small Towns we visit six of Alberta’s most legendary locations:
– Drumheller! The “World’s Largest Dinosaur” takes you back to prehistoric times. Plus, you can see how it and many other dinos are made.
– Falher! You’ll celebrate the “World’s Largest Bee” in more ways than one (including witnessing Tamarra facing one of her biggest fears by participating in their annual bee beard spectacle.
– Vegreville! You’ll find out why the “World’s Largest Pysanka” (or painted egg) is truly unique from creation to design.
– Glendon! Tamarra’s headed to take a bite out of its world-famous perogy and discover how the monument may have saved the town itself.
– Donalda! The “World’s Largest Oil Lamp” has been lighting the way for tourists to discover the beauty within the walls of the town.
– Medicine Hat! This town celebrates Indigenous art and identity with the spectacular Saamis Tepee that celebrates culture, history and the legacy of the Edmonton Olympics.
You get to see these objects and the diverse Alberta landscape through the lens of spectacular drone visuals while you learn about Alberta’s rich history and, more importantly, start planning your own road trip. Check back for more Big Things Small Towns over the next few weeks.
Special thanks to The Kubasonics for their song Giants of the Prairies.
About: Welcome to CBC Arts, your home for the most surprising, relevant and provocative stories featuring artists from diverse communities across Canada. Our job is to fill your feed with the disruptors and innovators changing how we see the country through movement, images and sound — and to inspire you to join in too.