The inscription of Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi on the World Heritage List in 2019 was the culmination of a fifteen-year long nomination process. The nomination recognized the international significance of this Blackfoot cultural landscape, but the process also exposed tensions between local, global, and Indigenous values. Consultation with Blackfoot and local settler communities during the National Historic Site of Canada commemoration that preceded the World Heritage site nomination indicated broad support for inscription of Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi. However, engagement with local settler communities during the World Heritage site nomination process led to multiple iterations of the submission, as the nomination team attempted to balance the original Blackfoot vision of a cultural landscape that extended beyond Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi against local community concerns with the nominated property boundaries and buffer zone. Integrating recent settler history within the ancient Blackfoot sacred landscape also proved contentious. In consequence, international experts reviewing the nomination struggled to reconcile globalized universalism with local perspectives and Indigenous values. Throughout the nomination, Jack Brink helped the nomination team navigate the contested values of Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi, ultimately leading to a successful inscription accommodating local settler history within the Blackfoot cultural landscape while representing a step forward on the path to reconciliation with the Blackfoot.
November 28, 2023
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Archaeological Survey of Alberta