Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel site

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The Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel (Iniskim Umaapi) is an archaeological site of the Blackfeet Nation located south of Bassano, Alberta. The medicine wheel has been dated to 3200 BCE (5200 years ago) by careful stratification of known artifact types.[1][2]

The medicine wheel sits on top of a grassy hill at an elevation of 918 m[3] overlooking a large area of undisturbed prairie around the Bow River. The structure consists of a round stone cairn, 9 m in diameter, surrounded by a 27 m wide cobble circle connected to the cairn by 28 stone spokes. This arrangement is categorized as Subgroup 6 and of the total 67 known medicine wheels only 3 belong to this category, the other two being the Jennings site in South Dakota and Bighorn in Wyoming.[4]

The southern half of the cairn has been excavated and the projectile points found indicate it was in use since the Oxbow/McKean Phase for the last 4500 years. The site was built in layers, with the earliest 14
date from the cairn determined at 3845 plus/minus 85 radiocarbon years before present.[5] Calibrated to calendar years this is 2384 plus minus 124 years before 1950,[6] although this sample doesn't come from the earliest construction period.

Among the stones were found offerings in the form of sweet grass, willow, cloth and tobacco. The site further yielded iniskim stones ("buffalo calling stones"), fragments of ammonite fossils that can be found in the bedrock exposed by the Bow River to the east of the site.[7] Iniskim are small natural stones that resemble the shoulders and hump of a buffalo.[8] In this case the petrified coils of ammonite shells that broke along the septa into small figurines with four prongs on one side resembling legs. These have been used in the Blackfeet Nation folklore to secure the return of the migrating buffaloes.


  1. ^ The Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel Site, James M Calder, National Museum of Man Series, Archaeology Survey of Canada No. 62, Ottawa, 1977
  2. ^ "Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark". Archived from the original on 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  3. ^ "Rocky Butte Station Report". Natural Resources Canada. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  4. ^ "Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel". HeRMIS. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  5. ^ "Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel". Canada's Historic Places. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  6. ^ "Cologne Radiocarbon Calibration & Paleoclimate Research Package". Monrepos. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "Majorville Cairn and Medicine Wheel". Canada's Historic Places. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
  8. ^ Bryan, Liz (2015). Stone by Stone (2nd ed.). Canada: Heritage House Publishing Company. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-77203-050-1.

Coordinates: 50°35′6.32″N 112°24′38.07″W / 50.5850889°N 112.4105750°W / 50.5850889; -112.4105750