Today, if you follow Highways 1, 2 and 3 in Alberta, you will be following the traditional trails of the Blackfoot. Oetelaar believes this well-established system of trails not only followed the migration of the bison but moved along a network of sites, like present-day Medicine Hat (known to the aboriginals as Saamis), that specifically provided an abundance of localized resources — berries, plants and animals.
At each campsite the oral histories and special ceremonies linked to that site provided a sort of history lesson for the succeeding generations.
Oetelaar says this area, known to the Blackfoot as the Divided Hills, was considered common ground to other aboriginal groups, among them the Cree, who knew it as the Thunder Breeding Hills, and the Nakota, who called it “A warm place in the north that is an island by itself.”
In the new Interpretive Centre, scheduled for completion in late 2006 or early 2007 in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, the richness of the finds will be revealed in a slice of Oetelaar’s excavation wall, a sort of “book of sediments” providing an educational centerpiece where one can read the site’s evidence of human use, its unique prairie vegetation and its geological development through sedimentary deposition and erosion.