Travel + Leisure (USA)
For thousands of years, the Indigenous peoples of the northern Great Plains followed bison to the confluence of Opimihaw Creek and the South Saskatchewan River, in what is today known as Canada. At Wanuskewin—Cree for “seeking spiritual peace”—they hunted and trapped, camped and feasted. That ended in
1876, when a controversial treaty turned the land over to private speculators. But in 1992, it was returned to the region’s First Nations peoples and resurrected as a gathering place for prayer, dance, and traditional rituals.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a 741-acre reserve and cultural complex a few miles northeast of Saskatoon, tells the story of the land and its inhabitants through art and archaeological displays, as well as a restaurant that serves contemporary spins on Indigenous dishes—wildrice burgers, for example, or fritters made from the three sisters (corn, beans, squash).
An important step toward the restoration of the historic ecosystem came in 2019, when bison were brought back for the first time since the mid 1800s. A few months later, chief archaeologist Ernie Walker found a rock partially unearthed by the animals’ grazing. Walker cleaned it and discovered a petroglyph carved by an ancient ancestor—the first ever found there. It depicted a bison. “We don’t know what gifts the bison will bring next,” CEO Darlene Brander says.
“It’s up to them to tell us.” wanuskewin.org. — J.C.