Archaeologist entertains crowd at Donalda historical evening

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Looking at the past – Spectators were able to take a close look at some of the Native artifacts that were collected by Heinz Pyszczyz

Looking at the past – Spectators were able to take a close look at some of the Native artifacts that were collected by Heinz Pyszczyz

BRENDA SCHROEDER / Independent reporter

 “They are one of the rarest items for us (archeologists) to find at sites in the Parkland,” the crowd gathered in Donalda’s Community Hall were told. “But I’ve found out the best place to find them are to drive into farm yards and look in barns and sheds.” Heinz Pyszczyz, Parkland Archeologist with the Government of Canada, was holding up a hammer head used by First Nations people. He received quite a few chuckles, acknowledging that most people in the room had seen a few hammer heads in their day.

The Donalda & District Museum hosted another one of their successful historical evenings on Saturday, June 11. A crowd of over 70 enjoyed a roast beef supper and then Pyszczyz took the floor to share information on the human history of Donalda and Area, focusing in on the First Nations Human History of the Parkland and the area of Donalda. This was Pyszczyz’s second presentation in Donalda: last fall he spoke about the found history of the European immigrants.

In the Donalda area there are 383 known sites: campsites, quarries, stone cairns, kills site, spiritual sites – spanning in date back 10,000 years. A common thread in the presentation that this is only what we’ve found – that the likelihood of more sites being found is only a matter of looking. In the Parkland area they have yet to find any rock art (as one would see at Writing on Stone Provincial Park) but that statement is concluded with a very important “…yet.”

Pyszczyz displayed a wide variety of projectile points that range in size, shape and age but he stressed that the meaning of these finds is greatly reduced when removed from their location. Removing artefacts from the land removes them from the context and reduces their meaning. In order to explore the who used it, why they many have used it and when – the where must also be known.

The evening also included a short talk by Blair First Rider who provided an aboriginal perspective on the areas assets. One mystery in Donalda are the large holes that have been found on the top of the hills. Speculation has been that they could be eagle traps however First Rider also gave thought to the role they may have played in sweat lodges or ceremony.

The evening wrapped up with individuals sharing stories and describing places that they have seen that may hold historical significance. Pyszczyz and First Rider definitely lighting the spark of curiosity and wonder about the area we live in.