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11,000-year-old bison skeleton moved to Blackfoot Crossing

The Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park on the Siksika Nation, 100 kilometres east of Calgary near Cluny, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh The Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park on the Siksika Nation, 100 kilometres east of Calgary near Cluny, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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The partial skeleton of an 11,000-year-old bison were returned from the Badlands Historical Museum in Drumheller to be displayed at the Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.

The skull, shoulder blades, spine, and ribs of a bison antiquus occidentalis, which is now an extinct species, were moved to Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park, Nov. 30.

This specimen was originally discovered in 1957 at the site of an abandoned strip mine near Taber, and has been on display in Drumheller for decades. A ceremony to mark the occasion was hosted at the Blackfoot Crossing museum on moving day.

“We are thrilled to accept the display here at Blackfoot Crossing. This has been in plans for years and we are honoured that the Drumheller Historical Society board chose us as the new home for this significant display,” said Shannon Bear Chief, general manager of Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park.

The bones will be the centrepiece of a larger new exhibit, which will also include other bison artifacts and specimens in the Blackfoot Crossing collections.

Also about the display, a stone artifact embedded in the specimen marks the earliest known evidence of human presence in Alberta, and some of their interactions with the sire species.

The artifact and markings on the skull are believed to come from an ancient axe, and present evidence of a prehistoric bison hunt by early humans.

According to information made available through Blackfoot Crossing, the bison antiquus became extinct roughly 6,000 years ago.

“Welcoming this display to our historical park is extremely exciting and we welcome the public to come join us at Blackfoot Crossing to celebrate this significant piece of history,” said Shilo Clark, communications officer with Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park. “The Blackfoot people hold the bison very sacred.”

The special animal provides many things.

“(They) provided pretty much everything we needed to survive, so food, tools, clothing, shelter,” said Sasheen Wright, Blackfoot Crossing collections manager.

Blackfoot Crossing museum is creating a collection storyline committee, which will ultimately decide how the final display will be exhibited.

No specific date has yet been noted as to when the final bison display will be open for viewing at the Blackfoot Crossing museum.

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