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Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi

Date of Submission: 01/10/2014
Criteria: (i)(iii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Parks Canada Agency
State, Province or Region:
Province of Alberta
Coordinates: N49 W111.63
Ref.: 6254
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Lying within the traditional territory of the Blackfoot people (Kainai, Piikáni and Siksika), Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai'pi (translated as "it is pictured/written") is an ancient sacred place where dramatic geological formations are the home of Sacred Beings, and more than 138 rock art localities record the "writings" of the spirits. Consisting of three serial components encompassed by Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park (Áísínai'pi National Historic Site of Canada), the proposed 1,106 hectare property in the Milk River valley of southern Alberta is a spectacular landscape of ancient eroded sandstone cliffs, dramatic badlands, and surreal hoodoo formations. For at least 4,000 years, Indigenous people have stopped here in the course of their seasonal round to pray, perform ceremonies, and consult the rock art. Burial places and vision quest locations affirm the sanctity of the landscape, while Blackfoot traditional knowledge describes the origins, history, and continuing use of this sacred place. The petroglyph and pictograph sites on the valley walls include several thousand motifs in hundreds of scenes, predominantly anthropomorphs, zoomorphs and material object motifs. Ceremonial figures, the exploits of hunters and warriors, and diverse animals are depicted among the images. New motifs created after European contact in the late 18th century illustrate guns, horses and the effects of Indigenous-Euro-Canadian contact and cultural change. In combination, the tangible and intangible features of Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai'pi create an outstanding associative cultural landscape of ongoing significance to the Blackfoot people.