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WARD EFFIGY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE

N/A, Near Cluny, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2000/02/22

Ward Effigy Archaeological Site, near Cluny; Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch
View south of the effigy
Ward Effigy Archaeological Site, near Cluny; Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch
View of large cairn at the head of the effigy
Ward Effigy Archaeological Site, near Cluny; Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch
View of heart stones

Other Name(s)

WARD EFFIGY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE
Ward Effigy

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/02/26

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Ward Effigy Archaeological Site is situated on 16 hectares of land just northeast of the Hamlet of Cluny. The central element of the site is the stone outline of a humanoid figure with discernible features including: slightly bent legs, male genitals, a rectangular body, a right arm, a heart, a neck, and a head. The effigy is located upon a low knoll on the southern end of a plateau with panoramic views of the Bow River valley to the south and the Rocky Mountains to the west. Two stone circles and a cairn are located west of the effigy.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site lies in its status as an exceptionally rare example of a Prehistoric stone effigy.

Of the thousands of archaeological sites in Alberta, only a tiny fraction - roughly a dozen - contain stone effigies like that found at the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site. The stone effigy near Cluny is a simple figural outline made of cobbles that depict a rectangular body and several anatomical features, including legs, an arm, a heart, a neck, and a head. The shape of the figure bears strong similarities to anthromorphs found in petroglyphs throughout the Northern Plains. The style of the Ward Effigy (consisting of an outline of the human figure, rather than a rock-filled body, and its prominent male genitalia) suggests that it was created during the Late Prehistoric period by ancestors of the Blackfoot people and that it may represent the trickster deity Napi. Located to the west of the effigy are two stone circles, likely tipi rings, and a cairn. The extreme rarity of effigy figures in Alberta and the spiritual significance of such places to modern Aboriginal people distinguish the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site as a particularly valuable resource for future research and interpretation and as a privileged element in the spiritual landscape of Alberta's Aboriginal people.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2052)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Ward Effigy Archaeological Site include:
- its location northeast of Cluny on a low knoll in native prairie grassland at the south end of a plateau, and including expansive sight lines to the traditional winter camping area of the Siksika Nation in the Bow River valley to the south, as well as to the Rocky Mountains to the west;
- the size and arrangement of stones in a style thought to evoke the Blackfoot Napi deity;
- the potential for surface and sub-surface archaeological artifacts;
- two stone rings and cairn situated to the west.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

2000/02/22

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Peopling the Land
People and the Environment
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Philosophy and Spirituality

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Aboriginal Ritual Site

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 2052)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0463

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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