Wanuskewin Heritage Park says the reintroduction of bison to the park allowed the discovery of Indigenous rock art believed to be over a century old.

Bison were reintroduced to the area in 2019 and Park officials say the bison moved vegetation allowing the discovery of what they say are very rare carvings in the rock known as petroglyphs.

Four of these petroglyphs were found along with the tool believed to have carved the rock; all of the artifacts are believed to be over a century old.
The first petroglyph, a bison rib stone carved into the rock, was found by the park’s founder and chief archaeologist Dr. Ernie Walker about 800 metres northwest of the main Wanuskewin building.

Dr. Walker says this was a significant find for the heritage park.

“Saskatoon and certainly southern Saskatchewan should be the bison capital of the world,” said Walker adding that the majority of artifacts they find are bison related. “The petroglyph, the rib stone, adds to this whole entire story from 6000 years ago to live bison in the park right now.”

For elder Cy Standing, the find was significant but the fact bison played a helping hand in the discovery was even more important. The Indigenous elder says he was always told the return of the bison would change history.

“This is very significant because the bison came back and now, they have recovered these rocks that gives us a sign that there are good things to come in the future,” said Standing.

While the initial finding occurred in August 2020, park officials say they delayed the public announcement to ensure the petroglyphs were properly conserved and to consult with Indigenous elders on the discovery.

In recent years Wanuskewin has been lobbying to become a United Nations World Heritage Site. Park officials believe this discovery will be a significant help in competing that process.

“It’s clear to me that this park wants and needs to be a world heritage site,” said Dr. Ernie Walker. “I think this is what destiny looks like and this day is a big part of our journey.”

All of the discovered petroglyph’s and the carving tool will be available for viewing at Wanuskewin starting Friday.

(PHOTO: The discovered ribstone rock carving.  Photo provided by Wanuskewin Heritage Park.)