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Suffield Tipi Rings National Historic Site of Canada

Cypress County, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1973/11/15

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Other Name(s)

Suffield Tipi Rings
Cercles de Tipi de Suffield
EcOp-4 to 17
EcOp-4 to 17
Suffield Tipi Rings National Historic Site of Canada

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2010/03/05

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Suffield Tipi Rings National Historic Site of Canada is located on rolling hills overlooking the South Saskatchewan River, in Alberta. The site encompasses 14 sets of archaeological remains relating to the cultural occupations of Plains First Nations peoples, featuring tipi rings, medicine wheels and various other rock arrangements. The tipi rings are located on the uppermost terraces above the river level and just below the level of the adjacent prairie to the west, while the rest of the petroforms are distributed across a large expanse of open land and alongside the river. Official recognition refers to the series of man-made features and the land upon which they are set, which comprises 700 hectares, with its concentration of sites including tipi rings, rock features such as linear rock arrangements, small cairns and a medicine wheel.

Heritage Value

Suffield Tipi Rings was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1973 because:
- it preserves a dense concentration of sites with fine specimens of tipi rings, a delicate site type;
- it features very well preserved rock features such as linear rock arrangements, small cairns and a medicine wheel, all of which were once common on the prairies but are now very rare;
- it is an important example of Niitsitapi cultural heritage on the western Canadian plains.

The numerous archaeological sites at the Suffield Tipi Rings are set within Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield, and cover more than 450 square kilometres. The site features fine examples of rock formations created by Plains First Nations, including numerous tipi rings, medicine wheels, small cairns, and linear boulder alignments. These rock formations are linked with habitations and ceremonies of the Plains First Nations, and have been dated to 1430. Tipi rings and boulder features were once common on the plains, but steady urban and industrial development along with intensive farming has eradicated them in most areas.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, 1973, 2006.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- its location on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, in Alberta;
- its location on the uppermost terraces above the river level amongst rolling hills;
- the composition and integrity of the combined geographical elements which constitute the site including the prairie, the river valley, and the river;
- the rocks in their original placement and extent;
- the visual and landscape character along the river valley and surroundings;
- the integrity of any surviving or as yet unidentified archaeological remains which may be found within the site in their original placement and extent;
- the unimpeded viewscapes of the river and the surrounding prairie.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

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

Function - Category and Type


Nature Element
Military Base


Undetermined (archaeological site)
Exposed Site
Religion, Ritual and Funeral
Aboriginal Ritual Site

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directoriate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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