The Manitou Stone: A Sacred Object In The Wrong Place

2138 words - 9 pages

The Royal Alberta Museum holds a sacred object of the First Nations groups of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Manitou Stone. This sacred object has a vast history to the Aboriginals but also has much controversy that surrounds it. Hundreds of years ago the object was removed from its original spot and was moved back and forth across the Canada, eventually ending up in Edmonton at the Royal Alberta Museum. This sacred object was said to have many powers for the First Nations people and when it was taken it brought great hardship to the First Nations groups that believed in the power of the Manitou Stone. This is only the beginning of the issues that surround this sacred object. Many different Aboriginal groups claim to own the piece but no decision has been made as to where the object should be placed. With the Manitou Stone now in the Royal Alberta Museum issues arise about the proper housing of the item and whether or not it should be retained in a museum or if it should be on First Nations land. Where the Manitou Stone is placed brings many complications and struggles for the Aboriginal people that claim ownership of the sacred object. When researching this object I was initially unaware of the significance that a museum could have to groups of people and the struggles that this could bring to these groups. This paper will explore the significance of the stone, the various viewpoints on why the object was moved originally from Iron Creek, who claims ownership to the object, and whether or not a museum is the proper place for sacred objects like the Manitou Stone to be kept.
Papamihaw Asini or better know to us, as the Manitou Stone was a meteorite that “once sat on a prominent hill about a tributary of the Battle River named Iron Creek in the region we now call east central Alberta.” The Manitou Stone was a “spiritual protector of the buffalo and a powerful reminder of all the generous gifts provided the people by iihtsipáitapiiyo’pa-the source of life to the Blackfoot people.” The Manitou Stone was an important part of the lives of the aboriginal groups of Alberta and Saskatchewan as was demonstrated by the gifts that the natives would leave at the rock. Many people would take long treks to the rock before the buffalo hunt to thank the spirits for everything it had done. It is also said that from the Manitou Stone, if facing a certain direction, you can see the face of the creator. This evidence shows the significance of the Manitou Stone, as a spiritual connection for the First Nations groups. Spirituality is of major importance to the Aboriginal culture and ways of life and the Manitou Stone had extreme significance to the people around Iron Creek.
For hundreds of years the Blackfoot and Cree were at war with one another. Dwayne Donald emphasized the importance of where the sacred object was placed: right in the middle of the traditional territories of these two competing tribes. The abundance of animals and resources on this...

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