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Crowds seated in bleachers near the amphitheatre
Presentations made in the valley by local and provincial dignitaries
Pride stretched across the faces of the old people whose stories about Wanuskewin came to life for those who were able to see firsthand the wonders of the spectacular park.
It was a day long-awaited by many; the Wanuskewin Indian Heritage Park officially opened its doors to approximately 2000 people at a grand opening celebration, Saturday June 27.
Located north of Saskatoon, the 6000+ year old archaeological site has been well known to Indian people as a meeting place for many years. Wanuskewin, its Cree translation - 'seeking peace of mind' - has also meant co-existence and harmony to those people who annually visited the buffalo pound and processing site.
The development of the park has been an ongoing process since the 1930's when a local farmer recognized the parcel of land as a place that held special archaeological significance.
Long known as a special place by Indian people, the treasures of Wanuskewin have been available for viewing by the public since June 1. In its one month of operation, over 20,000 people have already visited the park.
The grand opening celebrations proved to be exhausting for the handful of organizers, volunteers and park staff whose participation ensured the smooth operation of the event-packed day, although there were a few organizational snags that only time and experience would iron out.
A convoy of buses brought visitors to the gates of the park in the early afternoon and continued to transport people throughout the day.
Some of the special features of the grand opening ceremonies involved visitor tours, trial expeditions, traditional dancing, outdoor demonstrations of beading, cooking and pottery making, indoor artists displays and storytelling, a grand entry, deed signing and presentations by local and provincial dignitaries.
The day culminated in a spectacular evening performance entitled 'Living in Harmony'.
The play utilized both sides of the valley and involved the participation of approximately 100 people. Its spectacular sensations of sound and visual energy transfixed the crowds seated in the bleachers on the banks of the valley.
The tireless efforts of the Wanuskewin Indian Heritage Inc. board which represents the five Indian nations of Saskatchewan, oversees all aspects of the park, as well as the involvement of countless other supporting committees and individuals contributed to the overwhelming success of the park and its grand opening.
Wanuskewin inspires hope, peace and togetherness. It is no wonder we have been coming here for thousands of years. -- FRASER