Monday, 1 August 2016

See Wanuskewin Heritage Park for its celebration of First Nations Life

by Keith and Heather Nicol
      While in Saskatoon we recently visited the Wanuskewin Heritage Park. This Heritage Park celebrates various aspects of the Native peoples who lived in this area for 6000-8000years.  This area has had a rich history of settlement for its buffalo jumps and other food sources. The centre is located just outside Saskatoon and the main building has an interesting pointed roofline which embodies the symbol of several teepees. Inside the building are various plaques and displays which highlight the importance of the buffalo to the Indians as well as samples of their clothing and other artifacts. We also really recommend that visitors time their visit for the 2:00 pm dance demonstration. We thoroughly enjoyed watching Jordan Thunderchild do his interpretation of a Grass dance. 

Heather walking toward the entrance of the Wanuskewin Heritage Park
   He explained that his clothing was fringed to represent the undulating grass of the prairies and that traditionally when his people would move to a new area it was the Grass dancers that would find and bless the new hunting grounds. Jordan mentioned he has been dancing at Powwows since he was 7 and he is now teaching his young boys how to dance. He did 2 dances and then had all of the audience join him in doing a round dance. We were also told that many different dancers perform at Wanuskewin Heritage Park so if you visit on a different day you may well see someone else performing.
Jordan Thunderchild performing a grass dance
  We also did a short walk on the Circle of Harmony trail to the see the Sunburn tipi rings and a buffalo jump. At the Opimihaw Buffalo Jump there is an interpretative sign and a bench so that you can enjoy the view of the South Saskatchewan River and the adjacent Opimihaw Creek Valley. There are a total of about 6 km of trail but unfortunately many of the low lining trails were quite “buggy” when we were there so bring mosquito repellant if you want to walk these trails at the present time (late July 2016). The Wanuskewin Heritage Park also offers other interpretative programmes like teepee sleep overs, guided trail walks, plant identification and many others which we would like to do on an another visit. For more information see:
A buffalo jump overlooking the South Saskatchewan River


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