My Trip to Writing-on-Stone by Carlos B.
On National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, I took some time to reflect and learn about the diverse and complex groups that make up the Indigenous peoples of Canada. It was a great opportunity to recognize and honour the legacy of the Residential School System in our country. To deepen our understanding of the Indigenous history in Alberta, my girlfriend and I took a trip to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, located near Lethbridge, Alberta.
We were led on a guided hike through the park, on land where it is believed Indigenous peoples lived and passed through as long as 9000 years ago. The Milk River winds through the park, and the area is home to wildlife like prairie rattlesnakes and burrowing owls. It is a very quiet and spiritual place. Our guide told us that it is common to have bad dreams there, as it is a place with millennia of history.
Writing-on-Stone is said to contain the most rock art on the North American Great Plains. On the rocks were petroglyphs and pictographs that were likely created by the Blackfoot, which showed the lives of the peoples who lived there, as well as the spirits they encountered. In fact, many of the holes in the rocks made faces which were believed to be people trapped in the rocks.
I thought it was very interesting that the Indigenous peoples that settled at Writing-on-Stone chronicled their time in Dog Days, which refers to the time before Indigenous peoples in Canada had horses. During this time, they used dogs to help carry supplies, until wild horses were brought by the Europeans. In this way, Dog Days refers to pre-European contact with the Indigenous peoples in the Americas.