200 Indian Battle Park Road
Lethbridge, AB T1J 5B3
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Fort Whoop-up

Fort Whoop-Up Interpretive Centre

Fort Whoop-Up is a replica of an original fur trading fort built in the late 1800s. We tell the story of the buffalo robe and illegal whisky trade, the years leading up to and the years that followed. We tell the story of this region and the people here from the mid-1860s to the early 1890s. It is a complex story that includes the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), other First Nations, Métis, Canadians, Americans, and British.

It is a story of trade and politics, good people and notorious characters, and the flow of time.

In an effort to evade law enforcement in Montana who were cracking down on the illegal whisky trade, in December 1869 Alfred B. Hamilton and John J. Healy obtained supplies from Fort Benton, Montana, and headed north where they could continue trading in the then-unpoliced Canadian west. They set up a trading post at the meeting of the St. Mary and Belly (now Oldman) Rivers. A traditional gathering site for the bands of the Blackfoot Confederacy, the site would become the centre of a booming commercial trading post system.

Fort Whoop-Up and traders who engaged in the buffalo robe and illegal whisky trade, had brought tremendous change to Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) social and cultural life—but it was only the beginning. During the 1870s, the great buffalo herds were decimated all across the plains as a result of commercial hunting. By 1881 the robe trade was finished. Already struggling with epidemics like smallpox and tuberculosis, the Blackfoot people were devastated by the loss of the buffalo. The Tsuu T’ina, Stoney/Nakoda and Sikksikaitsitapi nations signed Treaty 7 in 1877. Despite ongoing challenges, the Blackfoot people in southern Alberta were resilient, and are vibrant nations with a strong traditional culture.

Fort Whoop-Up continued to operate until the death of its last owner, Dave Akers, in 1893. Since that time, the original site of Fort Whoop-Up has slowly been eroded by the changing flow of the Oldman River.

In 1967 a reconstruction of the fort was created in Indian Battle Park. The replica was redeveloped in the 1980s. Today, the Fort Whoop-Up facility continues to tell the complex story of the brief but formative period of the buffalo robe and illegal whisky trade in southern Alberta.

We invite visitors to hear the voices of our region’s history, language and culture.

Kitohkanaiksimatsimohpinnaan... We Greet You All.

For more information, please visit www.fortwhoopup.com

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