Wanuskewin National Historic Site of Canada

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
General view of Wanuskewin National Historic Site of Canada, 2003. (© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.)
General view
(© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2003.)
Address : Penner Road, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1986-06-16

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Northern Plains First Nations  (Organization)
Other Name(s):
  • Wanuskewin  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1987-Nov-OB-05, 1990-AM-07, 1986-AM-02, 2009-CED-SDC-041

Plaque(s)


Existing plaque:  Penner Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

People have occupied the Plains of North America for thousands of years. Here at Wanuskewin many archaeological features have been identified, representing most of the known elements which characterize Northern Plains prehistory. These elements range from surface features such as tipi rings to buried campsites over 4,000 years old. Several major bison kill sites as well as a ceremonial boulder alignment known as a medicine wheel are found here. Wanuskewin offers a rare opportunity to observe the interaction of the original inhabitants of this area with the world around them over several millennia.

Description of Historic Place

Wanuskewin National Historic Site of Canada is located in the Tipperary Creek (Wanuskewin) Conservation Area on the South Saskatchewan River, in Saskatchewan. The archaeological sites contained within the 57-hectare (140 acre) conservation area represent nearly 6000 years of cultural history relating to the Northern Plains First Nations people. There are several kinds of remains in the deep coulees along the riverbanks of the site, including a medicine wheel, camps, tipi rings, and stone cairns. Official recognition refers to the present limits of Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

Heritage Value

Wanuskewin was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1986 because: its archaeological features represent all the major time periods in Northern Plains pre-contact history.

Wanuskewin includes 20 archaeological sites, which represent nearly 6000 years of cultural history relating to the Northern Plains First Nations peoples who lived in deep coulees along the Tipperary Creek and South Saskatchewan River areas. The pattern of land use is clear, being richest along the riverbanks and disappearing as the valley becomes shallower. Therefore, many of the sites are functionally related. Both lithic scatter as well as in situ remains of Plains Indian cultural elements ranging from surface features such as tipi rings to buried campsites over 4,000 years old are found within the site. Also evident are several major bison kill sites as well as ceremonial boulder alignments known as medicine wheels. The density of archaeological materials is so great that the entire area is treated as one large site.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1986, 2009.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of the site include: its location three kilometres north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; its siting on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, in the Tipperary Creek Conservation Area; the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent, including a medicine wheel, camps, tipi rings, bison jumps, a bison pound, drive lanes, and stone cairns; viewscapes from the site across the river and the valley of the creek.