Pipestone Archaeological Society

Submitted by Keith Lewis

The Pipestone Creek wanders through the varied parkland landscape of southeastern Saskatchewan and for centuries its deep valley has provided shelter and food for prehistoric man. The valley lends its name to the Pipestone Archaeological Society, a group of avocational archaeologists, historians and collectors, which formally organized in the spring of 2003. An inaugural meeting was held at the Moosomin museum building by a group of interested people. Tim Jones, then Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society, brought information and guidance on the development of a new chapter in the Moosomin area. The new chapter was named Pipestone Archaeological Society and was organized under the enthusiastic leadership of Greg Nosterud as founding president in 2005.

Members of our new chapter realized that the southeast region was rich in archaeological history. Members such as Gary Garrett and David Dahlgren took on the task of exploring and recording new and existing sites. The “Shire site”, comprised of a serpent effigy, medicine wheel, and numerous stone lines, was one of our foremost discoveries and is now recognized as a Site of Special Nature. One project we recently completed was the aerial survey of the Moose Mountain Medicine Wheel. A wildfire swept the medicine wheel area of the Pheasant Rump Reserve in the spring of 2012 and revealed the stone effigy as it hadn’t been seen in many years. Pipestone members organized to flour the stones and do extensive aerial photography of the area.

Over the years our organization has formed a very rewarding relationship with a group of residents of the Pheasant Rump First Nation Reserve. Our organization recognizes the value of the archaeological resources that we find to our Indian friends. We often are welcome at their ceremonies and greatly appreciate their advice and guidance. Whether we are involved in meetings, researching new sites or old, an invitation is always extended to our First Nation friends.

The Pipestone Archaeological Society has often found itself focusing on issues relating to archeological conservation. Whether it be oil, agriculture, minerals, or other development on our prairie landscape, the potential to damage or destroy our archaeological resources becomes more obvious and the need to recognize and protect those resources become more important. Our organization believes we must do whatever we can to work with landowners, government, fellow archaeologists, and First Nations people to recognize and preserve the archaeological heritage of our region and our province.

Over the years since its organization, Pipestone has brought together a diverse group of people, all interested in the evidence of historic and prehistoric man in the southeast region. The record will show that many existing known sites were given more detailed attention and many new archaeological sites were discovered. Collections of artifacts collected over lifetimes were dusted off and given the attention they deserved. Members exchanged information within the community and though their affiliation with the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society had access to knowledge and opportunity shared throughout the province.

The current Chapter Representative for the Pipestone Archaeological Society is Clint Blyth.

I ranch with the able help of my current wife, Jody, on the Pipestone Valley of southeast Saskatchewan. We have two boys aged 26 and 28. I was born and raised in southern Alberta and obtained my Bachelors degree in geology from the University of Calgary in 1983. I worked in the oil and gas industry until 2008 when we sold our small farm and feedlot in Alberta to move to Saskatchewan to ranch “full time”. We mainly custom graze cattle, which leaves us more time to explore and appreciate our new home. We enjoy many outdoor activities like hiking, hunting, fishing, horseback activities and training our dogs. I am a member of the Pipestone Chapter of the SAS, which I joined in 2011. I am also on the boards of the Pipestone Watershed Group and the Fleming Heritage Society.

My interest in archaeology stems from my passion for studying the puzzles of the geological and paleontological history of the earth and the people on it. I especially enjoy western Canadian history, both pre and early post contact. I believe we can learn a lot about living in and managing our landscape in a sustainable manner from what was happening here before we significantly industrialized. It’s not just old stones and bones. Heritage knowledge has an important part to play in our future.

Facts some may find interesting about myself and some may dread are that I enjoy collecting old cast iron cookware, western Canadian historical journals, antlers and shotguns. As my wife would attest to, “there is a fine line between a collector and a hoarder”.