Alberta's Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park now a World Heritage Site

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is now Alberta's sixth World Heritage Site, an international designation for a site rich in Blackfoot history.

Blackfoot site has rock carvings dating back thousands of years

Petrogylphs along a trail at Writing-on-Stone. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is now Alberta's sixth World Heritage Site. 

The park, also known by its Blackfoot name Áísínai'pi, received the designation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

"The designation of Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi as a UNESCO World Heritage Site provides the Blackfoot Confederacy a basis for its future generations as to the strength and truth of our continuing relationship to this land and to our traditions, ceremonies and cultural practices," Martin Heavy Head, an elder with the Mookaakin Cultural and Heritage Society, said in a news release Saturday.

Rock paintings and carvings

According to the government, the park is home to the most significant concentration of rock carvings and paintings on the North American prairies, some of which date back 2,000 years. 

"Writing-on-Stone/Áísínai'pi is the site of many natural wonders and a testament to the remarkable ingenuity and creativity of the Blackfoot people," Jason Nixon, Alberta's minister of environment and parks, said in the news release.

"It's easy to see why the site is seen by many as an expression of the confluence of the spirit and human worlds. I hope all Albertans will take the time to explore this extraordinary part of the province and all it has to offer."

The park, located near the U.S. border in southeast Alberta, joins Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo Jump, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the Rocky Mountain parks and Wood Buffalo National Park on the prestigious UNESCO list.