Radville woman finds rare Iniskim artifact

A rare rock, called an Iniskim or buffalo calling stone, was found by a Radville-area woman and will be passed on to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum for research.

Tricia Hallborg Riviere found the stone not far from her front door, on her farm located about 15 km southwest of Radville, drawn by its peculiar shape, and once she found out that it may be a very significant find historically, decided to donate it to the RSM in Regina after contacting them.

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Tricia found the stone a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t until her brother-in-law, Sean Webster, saw it that she realized this was a significant little rock. Webster is an archeologist, and told her this was a rare find.

“I knew it was kind of neat, as you can see the carvings on it and it had a different shape,” said Tricia.

She isn’t sure where it came from, guessing it might possibly have been in a load of gravel delivered to the farm, or it might have been in the ground near the house and she happened to see it amongst the small stones in her driveway.

Once she contacted museum and was in touch with Evelyn Siegfried, a researcher and curator in the Aboriginal Studies program, Tricia decided to donate it to the museum where she hopes it will be put on display for her children or friends and family to go see it.

Siegfried, who is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Regina, told her there have only been four others like this found in Saskatchewan, as this is an artifact of the Blackfoot First Nations people, and they reside in Alberta, not in Saskatchewan.

In an email to Tricia, Siegfried said of the Iniskim, “They are a very special object in Blackfoot culture and actually help verify the oral history that talks of the Blackfoot people living much farther east, into what is now central Saskatchewan, before contact. There were other groups like the Cree who also used the Iniskim in ceremony, but that is far more rare — it is a Blackfoot cultural item.”

Siegfried added of the stone, “It would be an extremely special piece in the archaeology collection and will generate great interest in the archaeology community.”

She said she could not guarantee that it will be put on display due to its sacred nature to the Blackfoot people, and noted they will contact the Blackfoot community to ask their advice about it. As the item was found in Saskatchewan, it will have to stay in this province.

According to the oral legends of the Blackfoot, the rocks were included in medicine bundles, often wrapped in buffalo fur. According to legend, the buffalo rock was placed inside a rawhide “parfleche” and hung outside the lodge on its own small tripod to call in buffalo, such as to a buffalo jump.


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