Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi is now Alberta’s sixth World Heritage Site

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced the addition of Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi at the 43rd session of its World Heritage Committee in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The nomination was prepared by the Government of Alberta in partnership with the Blackfoot Confederacy and with ongoing support from the Government of Canada. Áísínai’pi is the Blackfoot word for ‘it is pictured/written.’

Pursuing World Heritage Site designation was identified as an objective in the 1997 Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park Management Plan. Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi was placed on Canada’s Tentative List for World Heritage Sites in 2004. The park received federal designation as Áísínai’pi National Historic Site of Canada in 2004.

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“Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi is the site of many natural wonders and a testament to the remarkable ingenuity and creativity of the Blackfoot people,” said Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks. “It’s easy to see why the site is seen by many as an expression of the confluence of the spirit and human worlds. I hope all Albertans will take the time to explore this extraordinary part of the province and all it has to offer.”

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More than 60,000 people visit Writing-on-Stone each year to experience the landscape and its rich history. Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is located about 100 kilometres southeast of Lethbridge.

“Writing-on-Stone is an Alberta treasure that draws thousands of visitors annually to take part in interpretive tours and activities led by knowledgeable and passionate staff who love to share the park’s unique history,” said Tanya Fir, Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.

Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi contains the most significant concentration of protected First Nations petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the Great Plains of North America. Some of the carvings and paintings date back 2,000 years.  

“The designation of Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi as a UNESCO World Heritage Site provides the Blackfoot Confederacy a basis for its future generations as to the strength and truth of our continuing relationship to this land and to our traditions, ceremonies and cultural practices,” said Martin Heavy Head, Mookaakin Cultural and Heritage Society/ Blackfoot Confederacy Elder.

The inscription coincides with 2019 being designated as the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations.

UNESCO has announced the addition of Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai’pi as Alberta’s sixth World Heritage Site.

Key provincial agencies involved in developing the nomination include Alberta Environment and Parks, and Alberta Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women (Royal Alberta Museum, Archaeological Survey of Alberta), with ongoing advice from Elders of the Mookaakin Cultural and Heritage Society/Blackfoot Confederacy.

Alberta’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites are:

Updated July 6 12:25 p.m.

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