Writing-on-Stone, Glyphs - Milk River, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member BK-Hunters
N 49° 05.107 W 111° 37.811
12U E 453985 N 5437109
Quick Description: Writing-on-Stone is an area of sandstone formations and hoodoos on the north side of the Milk River Valley in southern Alberta. Natives gathered here for centuries and left pictographs and petroglyphs as witness to their presence.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 7/24/2014 4:59:51 PM
Waymark Code: WMM5DP
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TheBeanTeam
Views: 1

Long Description:
The largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs and pictographs on the great plains of North America is to be found here. The artwork was created over time by the Blackfoot people, who occupied a large area of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana. Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park encompasses a total of 6,644.79 Acres (2,689.05 Ha). Tours are available from May 17 to Oct 13 in 2013.

The glyphs and the park surrounding them were designated an Alberta Provincial Historic Resource on February 27th, 1981.

Coordinates given are for the trail head to the glyphs at the parking lot.


Description of Historic Place
The Writing-on-Stone Archaeological Area lies within Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, on the north and south sides of the Milk River, 42 km southeast of the Town of Milk River. Contained within an area of approximately 156 hectares, it consists of a complex of at least 38 known prehistoric and protohistoric sites, including artifact scatters, campsites, a killsite and numerous rock art sites. In addition, the remains of a late nineteenth-century North West Mounted Police post are also located within the designated area.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Writing-on-Stone Archaeological Area lies in its identity as one of the largest concentrations of prehistoric and historic period Native American pictographs and petroglyphs in North America. Additional heritage value is expressed in the area's association with the North Mounted Police and its relationship to the establishment of Canadian sovereignty and settlement in the west.

The rock art within the Writing-On-Stone Archaeological Area has been created through incising, scratching, abrading, pecking (petroglyphs) and painting, drawing or chalking (pictographs) on the vertical faces of the sandstone cliffs flanking the Milk River valley. The artwork ranges from individual images to large composite pictures with numerous images. The panels include depictions of humans with V-necks, square shoulders or pointed shoulders, humans bearing round shields, humans with weaponry (bows and arrows, spears, guns) or weaponry depicted on its own, animals such as horses, birds, bison and other game animals, triangular images interpreted as tipis and a variety of geometric shapes, including circles, semi-circles, dots and lines. Composite panels depict hunting and camp life, as well as scenes of battle. Ancient cultural materials found in areas of the rock art have included arrow points (stone and metal) as well as stone flakes and bone fragments. Prehistoric campsites also occur in the area and are often represented by the remains of campfires (hearths) and scatters of bone and stone debris.

Stories from local Aboriginal people attest to the past and continued importance of the location. Given the variety and density of the pictographs and petroglyphs, they have been subject to a number of scholarly studies. Some researchers have indicated that the artwork can be classified into two main types: the 'ceremonial' (including the human figures, animals and weaponry) and the 'biographical' (the composite scenes). Based on differences in between the images of the two types, it has been suggested that different people living on the Plains may have been responsible for the different styles, with the 'ceremonial' images placed in the canyon between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1700 and the 'biographical' panels created between A.D. 1700 and A.D. 1890. Archaeological excavation of artifacts and campsites within the regions suggest that the area has been occupied for at least 3,000 years.

The carved and painted figures at Writing-On-Stones Provincial Park represent the largest concentration of rock art in Canada; it is one of the most significant petroglyph/pictograph sites in North America. The rock art has been subject to several intensive studies by scholars of international repute (Dewdney 1964, Habgood 1967, Keyser 1977, Brink 1978). The figures range from standing warriors bearing large shields which date to a time before the horse had reached Alberta, through battle scenes of mounted warriors armed with firearms, to an illustration of the hanging of two human figures by wagon-driving Euro-Canadians. Scenes of hunting and camp life, and of birds and animals, attest to the rich life and spiritual guardians forming the world of the Plains Indians.
From the Alberta Register of Historic Places

Writing-on-Stone, Glyphs

Type of Marker: Cultural

Sign Age: Historic Site or Building Marker

Parking: Park in the parking lot by the coordinates

Placement agency: Province of Alberta

Visit Instructions:
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Please include any thoughts or historic information about the area that the marker may represent.
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