Bison Become Archaeologists, Discover Ancient Petroglyphs

In the late 19th century, bison were driven nearly to extinction, and there were none at all left in the area of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation in Saskatchewan. The First Nations elders, who had also been driven off their land, lamented the loss of the bison, and prophesied that they would return and bring good things for their people.

In 2019, bison did return when they were introduced to Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The bison went about altering the landscape, as they do, and about eight months later, made their first archaeological discovery. Not on purpose, of course, but the animals had removed the vegetation from an area near an old buffalo jump to use it as a dust wallow. Their hooves had beaten back some of the soil, and unearthed the first petroglyphs found in Wanuskewin. Four of them, plus a stone tool that was used to carve the rocks. The marks on the rocks are dated between 300 and 1800 years old, and estimated to be around 1000 years old.

First Nations experts identified some of the markings as depictions of buffalo ribs. Read what this discovery means amid the history of the First Nations people of Saskatchewan at Smithsonian

#bison #petroglyph #Saskatchewan #FirstNations

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