|Wanuskewin Heritage Park is a remarkable place. Firstly we watched a movie about the area showing us that Wanuskewin is a spiritual and healing place. From the time you arrive you can feel the presence of the past. I met a man at the motel called Frank this morning and he told me he works with the elders and told me I would love it - he was right!
The indigenous family groups would move around the praires to different areas, at the first summer thunderstorm they would move to the summer camp, at the first frost to their winter camp. The Bison did this too. They think there were around 26 million Bison on the praires and within 150 yrs of settlement the numbers dropped to 1000. When the indigenous peoples needed meat or hides several family groups would join together to part-take in a Bison Jump. This was when they hearded bison onto a cliff and heard them off it - up to 200 would be needed to prepare the meat and hides quickly after the jump. It took anywhere between 8 - 15 hides per tipi and they only lasted up to 2 years. There were a lot of jumping bison!
Women always put up the Tipi's - as it represents women, motherhood and sisterhood. The foundation sticks are layed first and represent the 1st stage of the circle of life, Infantancy and the 3 sticks having the meanings of obedience, respect and humility. The rope is tired in a clockwise motion as this is the way of the sun, seasons and life moves.
The Adolescent stages are the next 3 poles - happiness, love & faith.
The Adult stages are the next 3 poles - kinship, cleanliness & thankfulness
The Elder stages are the next 3 poles - share, strength and good child rearing
Hide was then added - hoisted up to the top then wrapped around the sides. There was always 9 pins to hold the hide in place and represent 9 months in the womb. The door always faced East so they could tell the time and see the start of the day.
The sticks out the top represent an eagles next and the flaps that open at the top represents a womens arms. A very interesting history lesson.
Our dancer was an interesting character and very funny - loved watching his dancing and hearing the explanation of his moves!
The river cruise was very relaxing and great to hear some of the history of Saskatoon - I love being on or near the water!