Blackfoot archaeology dig

Niitsitapii Ihtsitapii’patapiio’p: Blackfoot Ways of Knowing & Connecting


Master of Education - MEd Interdisciplinary (4 course program)


Off campus (Courses will be offered at sites in Blackfoot Territory and often outside the city of Calgary. Transportation to locations is responsibility of the student.)


One year (4 consecutive terms)


Graduate Program Administrator:
Tom Liu

Academic Coordinator:
Ahstanskiaki Sandra Manyfeathers

Program Overview

Niitsitapii Ihtsitapii’patapiio’p Blackfoot Ways of Knowing & Connecting is centered in Niitsitapii (Blackfoot) ways of life. Its courses involve exploring the teachings of Elders, ceremonials leaders, and knowledge holders within Blackfoot Society Life and engaging in attentive ecological relationships with the cosmos, land, plants, and animals while observing changes during the 13 lunar cycles of the year.

Program Details

The overall goals of the program are for students to: 

  • Learn from and develop an understanding of Blackfoot ways of knowing and connecting, including society life, ways of telling and hearing stories, and the relationships Blackfoot people have with plants, animals, the environment, and place;
  • Critically reflect on previous and present cultural understandings, experiences, and biases and how as people, scholars, and practitioners they are/were positioned within themselves, and the ways of knowing, being, and doing those understandings make possible and limit in understanding culture;
  • Live, model, and share in their professional, community, and scholarly practices what has been received through course teachings, experiences, readings, discussions, and assignments. 

This program is in alignment with the current needs of the Blackfoot Confederacy.  Through these courses students will be equipped to work in partnership with members of the Blackfoot community in a professional capacity toward the mutual goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

This program is designed for educators, leaders, health care professionals, service providers, and community members seeking to understand and/or sustain Blackfoot ways of knowing, being, relating, adapting, and doing.

This four-course topic will be of interest to those who are seeking to reintegrate into the Blackfoot community, those who are working in the Blackfoot community, or those who, as visitors in Blackfoot territory, wish to better understand the people and places of the territory in which they reside.

This four-course topic reflects both community needs and needs for increased attention and commitment to Blackfoot ways of knowing across professional and scholarly interests.

It has been designed in consultation with Aawaahskataksi (Elders) and the need they identified for a program based in Blackfoot ways of knowing and living. It builds on students’ feedback on how transformative their experiences have been within Niitsitapiisinni: Real People's Way of Life and Poo'miikapii: Niitsitapii Approaches to Wellness, and their interests in an additional learning opportunities centered in Blackfoot ways of life.

A registration package will be sent to new students after they have been admitted. Registration for the summer term will be available in late winter. Fall and Winter registration opens in the spring. Your Graduate Program Administrator will send more information about registration to you.

Fee details are available on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

The University of Calgary offers multiple ways to meet the cost of your education. Please refer to the Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries page to learn more about options available to students. For additional information, please contact Student Financial Support.

A written statement of intent (suggested length: 300 words) indicating the applicant's reasons for pursuing a graduate program in Graduate Programs in Education. The statement should address the following:

  • Please identify your reasons for applying to this graduate program.
  • Please outline the particular topics or questions that you plan to pursue in your specialization.
  • In what way is this program related to your desired career path or employment objectives?

Two references are required for students applying to the Graduate Certificate (Step 1). References will be asked to complete an online reference form. No hard copy documents will be accepted.

  • Graduate Diploma (Step 2) applicants are not required to submit references.
  • Master of Education - Educational Research Topic (Step 3) applicants are not required to submit references.

Applicants to the Master of Education - Educational Research Topic (Step 3): the minimum admission requirements for the final step of the MEd Interdisciplinary degree program also include completion of steps 1 and 2, the Graduate Certificate AND the Graduate Diploma in Education.

Relevant Prior Learning Considerations:

In exceptional circumstances, individuals who do not meet formal academic requirements but who have significant life achievements may be considered for admission to the program. The candidates must provide the relevant graduate program with evidence demonstrating a potential to undertake successfully the proposed program of studies.

Such candidates are advised to make early contact with Graduate Programs in Education, and supply additional supporting documents as part of their application package, such as:

a) Evidence of personal continuing education/training.

b) Results in these continuing education efforts.

c) Experience in a field related to the aspired degree.

d) Evidence of successful management of people, resources, finances, situations.

e) Increasing or varying responsible positions in organizations related to the aspired degree.

f) Work-related products, e.g. reports, programs of learning or training, handbooks, videos, manuals, workshops, seminars.

g) Evidence of personal growth in knowledge, understanding, management skills, and intellectual resources.

h) Evidence of innovation.

i) Evidence of leadership, coordination.

Admission to all graduate programs is highly competitive due to limited enrollment capacities. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

All graduate programs are governed by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In the case of any conflict, regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar take precedence over material on this website. Please consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar for University of Calgary graduate admission requirements.

Offers of admission are valid only for the term to which applications are made. Graduate Programs in Education will not grant deferrals of admission. Students unable to take up an offer will be required to submit a new application.

Program Schedule & Course Descriptions

  • Program begins each Summer term (refer to the Academic Schedule for specific dates)
  • Outlines are normally available 1-2 weeks prior to the start of term in D2L
  • 3 units per course

Term 1 - Summer

Blackfoot 13 Moons and Plants

This graduate-level course delves into the rich cultural, ecological, and historical significance of the Blackfoot 13 moons calendar system and its relationship with native plants. Students will explore the intricate connections between traditional Blackfoot knowledge systems, lunar cycles, seasonal changes, and plant life within the context of Blackfoot culture.

Registration info:
EDER 655.26 L04 (50716)

Term 2 - Fall

Blackfoot Learning from Animals 

This graduate course delves into the rich cultural and ecological knowledge of the Blackfoot people by exploring their unique relationship with four key animal species - equines (horses), bison, beavers, and wolves. Students will gain a deep understanding of how these animals have shaped and continue to influence the traditional practices, beliefs, and livelihoods of the Blackfoot community.

Registration info:
EDER 655.27 L03 (76193)

Term 3 - Winter

Blackfoot Land-Based Studies  

Blackfoot Land-Based Studies is an interdisciplinary graduate course designed to immerse students in the rich cultural, historical, and ecological knowledge of the Blackfoot people. This unique program aims to foster a deep understanding of Indigenous land-based practices, traditional ecological knowledge, and the significance of these connections for contemporary environmental stewardship.

Registration info:
EDER 655.28 L03 (16109)

Term 4 - Spring

Blackfoot Knowledge Seeking Practices

This graduate-level course delves into the rich and diverse world of Blackfoot/ Indigenous knowledge seeking practices, providing students with a comprehensive understanding of the epistemological, ontological, and axiological foundations that underpin these approaches. The course aims to foster critical thinking and cultural sensitivity among students while equipping them with the necessary tools to engage in ethical, respectful, and collaborative practices within Blackfoot communities.

Registration info: