Pierson Wildlife Management Area archaeology project

In September 2018, Mr. Eric Olson found two complete modified bison scapulae (shoulder blades) and the fragment of a third on the banks of Gainsborough Creek, south of Melita. Historic and ethnographic accounts indicate that such modified bison scapula were lashed to wooden shafts to make gardening hoes for maize (corn) cultivation. As part of the work conducted in 2019 and 2020 by Dr. Mary Malainey (Brandon University) and the MAS, a series of 1×1 m test units were excavated in a grassy meadow close to where the bison scapula hoes were found. While the northern end of the meadow was highly disturbed, intact cultural deposits, including a modified deer scapula, bone flakes and other material was found in the southern-most unit excavated in 2019. Materials found in 2020 confirm this area was a bone toolmaking workshop. Modified large mammal and bird bones, bone flakes, stone tools, re-sharpening debitage, pottery, ochre and the remains of a hearth were recovered. In 2021, we continued excavations in the creek valley and began testing the west and east prairie levels.  

  Bison scapula hoe found by Mr. Eric Olson   Public archaeology meeting place  
  Bison scapula hoe found by Mr. Eric Olson (Image courtesy of Mary Malainey)   Members of the public gather (in family clusters spaced more than 2 m apart) around Dr. Sara Halwas for the 10 a.m. presentation and tour. (Image courtesy of Jordan Michelsen)  
  Concentration of modified bone found under hearth   Tour of the Olson site before Indigenous blessing  
  Concentration of modified bison bone found under the remains of a hearth (Image courtesy of Alicia Gooden)   Tour of the Olson site prior to the Indigenous blessing. From left to right: Ms. Amber Flett, Mr. Dan Roberts, Ms. Sheree Blacksmith, Ms. Jewel Stouffer, Dr. Sara Halwas, Ms. Alicia Gooden, Mr. Chicago Demas, Knowledge Keeper Greg Chatkana, Mr. Mark Paxton-McRae. (Image courtesy of Mary Malainey)