Gray Burial Site

Gray Burial Site, north of SWIFT CURRENT, Sask, lies on a sandy hillside west of an ancient glacial outwash channel. Archaeological excavations between 1970 and 1974 showed that this place was used as a traditional burial ground by a small band of hunters who inhabited the region between 3500 and 1000 BC. These people were mobile and followed the seasonal movements of the BISON herds. They used pack DOGS to carry out their belongings and supplemented their diet with berries, mammals such as DEER and PRONGHORN, and smaller animals including birds and their own dogs.

During their seasonal travels the natives probably accumulated the bones of their dead, returning periodically to the location of the Gray Site for formal burial ceremonies. The bones were interred in composite groups, including those of a number of children and one or more adult crania. The associated artifacts and the character of the burial remains reveal the antiquity of the ritual and ceremonialism that was typical of the PLAINS NATIVES of the historic period.

The Gray Burial Site, which is about 5000 years old, was declared a National HISTORIC SITE in 1973 because it is one of the oldest burial sites in the Plains.

See also ARCHAEOLOGY; PREHISTORY.