Joe Crowshoe Sr., 81, from Peigan Nation received an honorary doctor of law degree at the recent 1990 convocation ceremonies at the University of Calgary.
Honoring Crowshoe was considered an appropriate start to Calgary's week-long Native awareness activities, said Coordinator Robert Laboucane. Crowshoe was nominated by the Native awareness week coordinating committee.
He was presented the degree at the first spring convocation for graduates from the faculties of law, environmental design and medicine. Crowshoe broke university tradition by opening the May 11 ceremony with an invocation in the Blackfoot language.
The Blackfoot elder is among well-known people who have received honorary degrees from the university. Last year Douglas Cardinal, a world-renowned architect and a Metis from Alberta, was given a degree. Rick Hanson, internationally famous advocate for the disabled, was honored the year previous.
Crowshoe's wife, Josephine, said in an interview "the award gives Indians in Alberta a good name. The award is an honor to all Indians, not just Joe."
He was given the honor because of his history of community service.
Crowshoe's support as a spiritual leader is often sought by many organizations and groups. His contributions date back to 1930 when he became the spiritual leader for the Peigan Nation.
Currently he is an adviser to the Indian Summer World Festival of Aboriginal Motion Pictures held every summer in Pincher Creek. Until recently he provided spiritual guidance to inmates at Bowden and Drumheller correctional institutions.
His philanthropic activities led him to different parts of the world. Crowshoe traveled to Australia and New Zealand in cultural exchanges with aboriginal people in those two countries. In 1988, he also participated in the Ex-Terra Foundation paleontology mission to China.
His devotion to the preservation of Blackfoot history has him involved with the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Center, a world heritage site recognized by the United Nations. His work with the Alberta government collecting and translating oral traditions of his people was recognized at the convocation ceremonies.
Also mentioned was his contribution to the writing of a Blackfoot language dictionary in conjunction with the University of Lethbridge.
Crowshoe has also been recognized for his contributions by other organizations and institutions. Secretary of state gave him a citation for citizenship in 1981. Later that year he received an achievement award from the province of Alberta in recognition of his contributions to increased understanding between ethnic groups in the province.
Born Jan. 3, 1903, Crowshoe lives with his wife, Josephine, with whom he has 11 children, 46 grandchildren and 36 great-grandchildren.