Photos: CT 2012
On my first visit in the summer of 2010, the Viking Ribstones lay quite undisturbed among the grass, as they had long lain.
A recent visit revealed the sad fact of vandalism. As well as removing the informational plaque from its stand, someone had tipped one of the stones out of its resting place and it lay exposed on the ground.
On the other hand, there was evidence of recent ceremonies: decorated bones and feathers lay near the stones, and coloured banners had been tied to the surrounding fence.
For many generations, these carved stones have been a place of pilgrimage, representing the Spirit of Old Man Buffalo.
Cree people and others come here to express their reverence and gratitude for the gifts of the natural world that sustains us all. As before, I saw offerings of small change and tobacco scattered around the place. When I put my hand in my pocket as protection against a bitter cold wind, I found a quarter. Pulling it out, I noticed the caribou image on its face, and added it to the other coins at the ribstones.
On this occasion, after a visit to Elk Island Park, I knew exactly what a bison looked like close up.