Ribstones Historic Site
Location: About 13 km from Viking. Exit Viking on Hwy 14 east, drive 11 km, then watch the road’s south side for a sign describing the ribstones. About 50 metres east of the sign, turn south onto Range Road 120, which leads to a T-junction after about 1.5 km. Turn left andalmost immediatelyright, and follow the markers to the ribstones on Range Road 120.
Info: Located on private land. Admission is free. The site is revered by Aboriginal peoples and should be treated with respect. Do not disturb braids of sweetgrass placed on the stones or the prayer flags hanging in nearby trees.
The ribstones are a set of quartzite boulders known as glacial erraticsstones carried many thousands of kilometres by great continental glaciers. The rocks carved into the Ribstones came from the Canadian Shield, and some weigh more than a ton. Aboriginal people saw that these rocks were different than the stones they usually found on the prairie and chiselled symbols into the rock petroglyphs that are now at least 1,000 years old. One of only nine sets found in Alberta, the Viking ribstones are especially revered as a grouping that can be seen at its original location atop a hill in the rolling land near Viking.
Long, parallel grooves etched into the stones are believed to represent a bison’s rib cage. The pale stones were likely used in bison fertility ceremonies to encourage the appearance of large bison herds. Rituals included leaving gifts on the stones to ensure a good hunt or as thanks for successful hunting.
JOAN MARIE GALAT
Aboriginal visitors hang colourful fabric in the trees to show reverence at this sacred place. Ribstones Historic Site, near Viking.