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Creator’s Stone meteorite to be returned to original site in Alberta

Click to play video: 'Sacred Indigenous stone to be returned to original site in Alberta'
Sacred Indigenous stone to be returned to original site in Alberta
Manitou Asiniy, also known as the Creator’s Stone or Manitou Stone, is considered to be sacred by First Nations people in Alberta. Centuries after it was removed, the 145-kilogram iron meteorite will get its own home at a new facility near Hardisty. Breanna Karstens-Smith reports – Sep 30, 2022

After years of negotiations, the Alberta government signed an agreement Friday with a First Nations group committing to return an ancient meteorite to its historic location after being displaced for over 150 years.

Manitou Asiniy, also known as the Creator’s Stone or Manitou Stone, is a 145-kilogram iron meteorite that landed close to the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, near modern-day Hardisty, Alta., billions of years ago.

The chestnut-coloured stone weighs about the same as a red-tailed deer and is the size of a large tire.

Manitou Asiniy, also known as the Creator’s Stone or Manitou Stone, is a 145-kilogram iron meteorite that landed close to the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary, near modern-day Hardisty, Alta., billions of years ago. Credit: Edmonton Community Foundation

The stone holds spiritual significance to Indigenous people across the Prairies and was thought to have healing properties and protect buffalo herds.

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The stone was taken in the late 1860s by Rev. George McDougall, who attempted to use it as a way to draw Indigenous people to Christianity. It was then sent to the Victoria Methodist College in Ontario.

Read more: Royal Alberta Museum returns artifacts to First Nation

When the stone was taken by McDougall, Indigenous spiritual leaders prophesized illness and famine that soon came to fruition with the introduction of smallpox and the mass killing of buffalo herds by colonizers.

The Royal Ontario Museum displayed the stone until 1972 when it was placed on long-term loan with the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton.

Elder Leonard Bastien, left, and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, sign a co-stewardship agreement as they announce a new path forward regarding the stewardship of Manitou Asiniy or Manitou Stone, in Edmonton, on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Jason Franson, The Canadian Press

Consultations between the museum and Indigenous groups about the fate of the stone started in 2002.

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Elder Leonard Bastien said the return of the stone is important to reawakening a sense of peace, prosperity, hope and healing for all people.

“It is my hope, my faith and belief that tomorrow will be better for us,” he said.

Bastien is chair of the Manitou Asiniy-Iniskim-Tsa Xani Center, the group that engaged with several Indigenous communities and elders to build consensus around the future of the stone.

Read more: ‘Ongoing care’: How to mark 2nd official Day for Truth and Reconciliation

At the ceremony, Premier Jason Kenney spoke of his first time learning about the stone in a history book several years ago.

“It does not and should not belong to the government of Alberta,” said Kenney. “It does, and must belong, to the First Nations of these lands.”

Kenney said returning the stone marks a deeply meaningful moment of reconciliation.

Click to play video: 'Alberta government returns sacred artifact on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation'
Alberta government returns sacred artifact on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Bastien praised Kenney for his actions to repatriate the stone. “You moved mountains for us.”

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A geodesic dome designed by Indigenous architect Douglas Cardinal will be the stone’s new home and serve as a prayer centre. The structure will be built over the next couple of years and will cost between $7.5 million and $10 million.

Blaine Favel, former chief of Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, said they are in the process of final land negotiations and that funding has started to come in from corporate donors.

Favel said that the prayer centre will help preserve culture and traditions for future generations.

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Saddle Lake Cree Nation man discovers prehistoric mammoth tusk in yard

The Royal Alberta Museum will continue to house and take care of the stone until the centre is built.

Hardisty, Alta., is about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton

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