Travel + Leisure (USA)

WANUSKEWIN

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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.

 ?? ?? A baby bison at Canada’s Wanuskewin Heritage Park.
A baby bison at Canada’s Wanuskewin Heritage Park.

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