Sacred Buffalo Child Stone Blown Up In 1966 For Dam Project Lies Underwater

Video: Search for Buffalo Child Stone

By Black Powder | Red Power Media

The sacred Buffalo Child Stone was blown to pieces with dynamite in 1966 to make way for the South Saskatchewan River Dam Project.

For hundreds of years, the 400-ton rock, —known in Cree as Mistassini (Big Rock)— that resembled a resting buffalo was a sacred meeting place to the Assiniboine and Cree nations.

Despite heroic efforts by First Nations groups to preserve  the Buffalo Child Stone, it was blown up by the Saskatchewan Government and now lies on the floor of Lake Diefenbaker.

Last year, a Saskatoon-based diver, was the first person in nearly 50 years to lay eyes on what remains of the important First Nations’ sacred site.

Neil Fisher, left, and Steven Thair prepare to dive. (Submitted photo/StarPhoenix)

Neil Fisher, left, and Steven Thair prepare to dive. (Submitted photo/StarPhoenix)

Diver, Steven Thair, located the rock at a depth of 21 metres. As he was securing a search line, he lost his balance. When he put his hand out to steady himself, he touched the sharp edge of dynamited rock. He says it is a difficult dive, with visibility at less than 2 metres, with lights.

Tyrone Tootoosis, a member of the Poundmaker Cree Nation, was a part of the discovery team. His father, Wilfred Tootoosis, was one of the elders who fought the destruction of the consecrated site.
 Elder Wilfred Tootoosis stands by Buffalo Child Stone. Photo courtesy of the Saskatchewan Archeological Society.

Elder Wilfred Tootoosis stands by Buffalo Child Stone. Photo courtesy of the Saskatchewan Archeological Society.

In a News Talk article, Thair, recalled how Tyrone, an aboriginal advisor present during the search, said he was honoured to be one of the first people to touch fragments of the stone since it was lost underwater.

“This sacred rock being destroyed, it’s not the first time that’s happened. Now that we are aware of what has happened here in this country in the last 100 some years, we don’t want to see it happen again. I mean, it would be akin to dynamiting Stonehenge because there was going to be a building put there,” Tyrone said.

A remnant of Mistaseni sits on the bottom of Lake Diefenbaker. (Submitted photo/StarPhoenix)

A remnant of Mistaseni sits on the bottom of Lake Diefenbaker. (Submitted photo/StarPhoenix)

Thair said, he does want to tell the story of what happened in 1966, but also he wants to be point out that he doesn’t think it would happen now.

“I don’t think any government would blow the rock up if the circumstances were what they are today, and I don’t think the aboriginal community would stand for it,” he told The Star-Phoenix.

Read more about the Buffalo Child Stone, as told by Barry Ahenakew, an elder of the Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, to Star-Phoenix reporter Hannah Spray here.

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