South West Saskatchewan Archaeological Society

Submitted by Hugh Henry

The Southwest Saskatchewan Archaeological Society (SWSAS) held its first meeting on February 11, 1982, at the Swift Current Composite High School. There were twenty-five people in attendance, from Swift Current and eleven other communities in the southwest. A presentation was made by Tim Jones and Wayne Pendree. Sandra Hill volunteered to be president. Other executive positions were determined at a subsequent meeting and a constitution was drafted and approved within two months. It was also agreed to become a chapter of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society (SAS).

The chapter became very active in short order. In 1984, members participated in archaeological investigations at the Niska site near Aneroid, under the direction of David Meyer, and at the Sheep Camp site on the shore of the South Saskatchewan River, led by Ingrid Cazakoff. The chapter also hosted the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society in the spring of 1984.
In 1988, chapter members mapped stone circles at Vallee St. Claire in the Lac Pelletier district, south of Swift Current. A report, authored by Sandra Hill, was published in 1989. The SAS AGM was held again in Swift Current in 1988.

A portable library was initiated to collect books, reports and other paper documents of archaeological interest, which has continued to grow through the years.

The chapter applied for and received permits to undertake supplemental investigations at the Heron-Eden site southeast of Leader in 1989 and 1990. Grant funds supported the cost of radio carbon assessments at the University of Saskatchewan, provided by Urve Linnamae and staff.

In 1993, the chapter constructed a portable archaeology display. It has been used in subsequent years to attract and inform the public at several venues in Swift Current during Archaeology Week, Heritage Day and on other occasions. The chapter has also partnered with the Swift Current Museum and Swift Current Public Library to mount displays and support presentations by speakers, aboriginal performers and the Festival of Ancient Technologies on several occasions in the past twenty-five years.

A chapter brochure was published in 1994 and has been used since that time to inform the public and attract new members.

Under the direction of veteran member, Ruth Heron, the chapter mapped stone cairns near Battrum from 1996 to 1998. Assistance was also provided when stone circles were mapped near the Hughton Medicine Wheel, an initiative of the West Central Chapter of SAS.

For several years the May chapter meeting was held in Shaunavon to support the membership from that community. A June picnic was often held at Joe and Laureen Gowan’s property on a bend of Swift Current Creek, in the presence of stone circles and other indicators of an aboriginal presence.

Over the years, many prominent Sask. archaeologists have been guests at our monthly meetings. More than ninety members, as well as the public, have learned from their presentations. Many members have also accompanied the SAS fall bus tours through the years.

While experiencing ebbs and flows in membership, the chapter still has a core of archaeology enthusiasts. At present, all members of the SWSAS reside in Swift Current. Meetings and programs are held at the Swift Current Museum. The chapter registered as a non-profit corporation in 2009.

The Southwest Saskatchewan Archaeological Society was pleased to host the SAS Gathering in 2012. Members look forward to many memorable tours and events in the years ahead and will continue to promote the study of archaeology in the region.

Members of the chapter volunteered to assist with excavations at Chimney Coulee with John Brandon in 1994 and 1995.

The current Chapter Representative is Jim Worrell. To contact the South West Saskatchewan Archaeological Society, you can email Jim.