In a dramatic landscape of steep-sided canyons and coulees, sandstone cliffs, and eroded sandstone formations called hoodoos, Indigenous peoples have created rock art for millennia. Thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs at more than 138 rock art sites graphically represent the powers of the spirit world that resonate in this sacred landscape, and chronicle critical phases of human history in North America, including when Indigenous peoples first came into contact with Europeans. In fact, the arrival of horses, trade items, and even the first automobile in the region are recorded in unparalleled detail with remarkable creativity.
With an exceptional combination of culturally significant landforms, rock art, archaeological heritage, and dramatic views, Áísínai’pi (“it is pictured/written”) is a sacred place for the Blackfoot people. In Blackfoot traditions, Sacred Beings dwell among the cliffs and hoodoos, and the voices of the ancestors can be heard among the canyons and cliffs. To this day the Blackfoot feel the energy of the Sacred Beings at Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi, and their oral histories and ongoing ceremonial use attest to the living traditions of the Blackfoot people.
The combination of these tangible and intangible attributes create an outstanding example of a cultural landscape of unique global significance.
Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi is fully contained within the boundaries of Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, in the province of Alberta. Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is managed by Alberta Parks, with ongoing guidance from the elders of the Blackfoot Confederacy.
World Heritage Convention
The World Heritage Convention is an international treaty that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. Currently, 193 countries (known as “State Parties”) have ratified it, including Canada which did so in 1976. The Convention is a vital tool in safeguarding the world’s heritage – having sites inscribed on the World Heritage List often serves as a catalyst to raising awareness for heritage preservation. It is rooted in the recognition that some heritage places have such exceptional qualities they can be considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value (often referred to as OUV) and are the shared responsibility of the international community as a whole. The Convention therefore seeks to identify, protect, conserve, present, and transmit to future generations, cultural and natural heritage sites that are deemed to be of Outstanding Universal Value, for the benefit of all humanity.