June 29, 2008 Leave a comment
Today my wife, daughter and I made a trip down to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, also known as Áísínaí pi National Historic Site. It is around a two hour automobile ride southwest of Medicine Hat. The Park-Historic Site is considered a sacred place by the Blackfoot People. Our guide described it as an outdoor cathedral for her people. It is believed that First Nations have used this area along the Milk River for at least 3000 years. Indeed, one is filled with awe and wonder as one beholds the hoodoos-rock formations, the beautiful array of shapes and sizes, some resembling human faces, birds and animals.
The Park-Historic Site contains the largest collection of First Nations’ rock art in Canada. Here is and example of what you will see as you hike through the Park. In this particular petroglyph, the person was successful in obtaining horses. The horses are facing west, which according to our guide, was regarded as a sign from the spirit world of life and success. If you visit the Park-Historic Site, please do not touch the petroglyphs, as some are quite old and can be easily damaged. By not touching or damaging the petroglyphs, you shall be doing your part in preserving the natural and spiritual treasures of the sacred place for future generations.
One of the stories our guide told us was about the origins of the Blackfoot name. She said they came to be called the Blackfoot People because of the many prairie fires that left the earth black and therefore blackened the feet of the people who walk on the burnt prairie. She also told us that the Blackfoot consisted of four tribes which, in their past history, spanned the region from the Rocky Mountains to as far east as the Saskatchewan Cypress Hills, and as far north as Edmonton.
A few words of advice about your visit to Writing-on-Stone. If you visit here in the summer, make certain that you have enough water to drink, wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, a hat, bring along sunscreen and mosquito repellent, and stay on the walking paths. You have the option of taking the guided tour for eight dollars per person or following the trail on your own out from the visitor’s centre. Speaking of the latter, you can also enjoy the displays and information provided there as well as chat with the friendly park staff.