University of Calgary

Dig rewrites history

June 18, 2008


Ancient fort rewrites Canadian prairie prehistory

A fortified village that pre-dates European arrival in Western Canada and is the only one of its kind discovered on the Canadian plains is yielding intriguing evidence of a mysterious First Nations group that settled on the prairies and is helping to rekindle ties between the Siksika Nation and aboriginal groups in the United States.

Students from the U of C’s Department of Archaeology are spending several weeks working on a dig near Cluny, about 120 kilometres east of Calgary, as part of a new project that is expected to continue for several years unearthing one of Alberta’s most significant archaeological sites. Known as the Cluny Fortified Village, the site on the Siksika First Nation reservation next to the Bow River is more than 250 years old and is an enigma to archaeologists who say it may have been home to a small band of normally-sedentary people from North Dakota who lived peacefully alongside the Blackfoot people for several years.

The archaeology field school was invited by the Siksika Nation to work on the site as part of the tribe’s new Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, which opened last summer. The site’s existence has long been known to elders of the Siksika Nation, who are sharing traditional stories with researchers to help unravel the history of the settlement.

Media interview and photo opportunities, Thursday, June 19, 2008:

Media are invited to visit the Cluny Fortified Village archaeological site from 11 am to 1 pm on Thursday, June 19, 2008. Media interviews and photo opportunities will be conducted at the archaeology dig and artifacts uncovered at the site will be on display.

Media availability at the Cluny Fortified Village archaeology project on the Siksika First Nation reserve.

11 am to 1 pm, Thursday, June 19, 2008.

Media interviews will be available with U of C archaeology professor Dale Walde, U of C archaeology students and officials from Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.

Meet at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. The park is located approximately 100 kilometres east of Calgary in Cluny, Alberta.
Driving directions from Calgary: Head east on Highway 1 approximately 75 kilometres. Turn right (south) on Highway 842 to Cluny (past Gleichen, at Petro-Canada station. Pass the town of Cluny and follow signs to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park (about 7 km past Cluny).

Media contact:
Grady Semmens
Senior Communications Manager – Research
Phone: (403) 220-7722  Cell: (403) 651-2515