Preserving the Memory of Aseniwuche Winewak Nation Cultural Sites

The Forest Management Area south of Grande Prairie that Weyerhaeuser is responsible for overlaps the Aseniwuche Winewak Nation’s traditional territory, giving the company a duty to ensure that its operations don’t disturb important places. Weyerhaeuser is working together with the Nation to create a database of cultural sites. Chantelle Bambrick, who works for the Foothills Landscape Management Forum (of which both parties are members), has been helping to coordinate field visits for the past two summers with Elders and Traditional Knowledge Holders. The elders lead the group to sites of cultural importance so that they can be flagged and added to the database. Bambrick has this update on the project:

“I wanted to share a brief update with all of you since we had a crew out in the field last week. We flew with Al at Canadian Helicopters for five days from July 27–31. We went out each day with two Elders and two Traditional Knowledge Holders with the exception of Friday when we brought a third Traditional Knowledge Holder along to help us find a particular gravesite location. On average, our crew walked 8.5 km/day in temps between 25 to 36°C and we added 17 records to Aseniwuche Winewak Nation’s Traditional Land Use database.

“I am proud to say I kept up with Tommy Wanyandie this time around (after all he is starting to slow down a tiny bit at 89 years young). All in all, it was a fantastic week of meaningful work. Our plan is to go out for another week in early-mid September.”

Heading northwest from Grande Cache over the Weyerhaeuser FMA
Getting into some spectacular areas
A regenerating cutblock provided a convenient helipad
Looking back east over the foothills.
Aseniwuche Winewak NationElder Tommy Wanyandie waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive by helicopter.
New lodgepole pine seedlings and cones in a cutblock.
The N-95 respirator: not the most pleasant when it is extremely hot.
Heading to another site.
A stunning alpine lake.
Wild, remote, beautiful.
The wildflowers were in full bloom. This field of paintbrush (Castilleja) was spectacular
Aspen fleabane; Erigeron speciosus
The trail wasn’t always so good. But we all managed even on some very steep, untracked terrain. Roland and Vivian leading the way.
Roland and Vivian, father and daughter.
Heartleaf arnica; Arnica cordifolia
Twinflower; Linnaea borealis
Roland Karakuntie and the trapping cabin he built many decades ago, last used in the early 1970s.