Cree Sacred Sites: Tyrone Tootoosis


This big Rock/Stone lies adjacent to a big river in Saskatchewan’s far north. It’s called “Bear Head Rock”. It sits not far from another little known rock that has been called “The Swimming Stone”. The Northern Cree called it this because this massive rock would ‘swim’ across the river from one side of the shore to the other side. Its tracks were highly discernable. In fact, one of the first so-called English Explorers to Saskatchewan’s north in the early 1880s ( I forget his name ) included a story in his memoirs where he travelled up-river with Cree Guides and they came upon this big rock and he asked about it and they told him it was the “Swimming Stone” with an explanation as to why it was called that. In his daily diary, the Explorer had taken note of where the Swimming Stone was sitting and was incredulous when upon their return trip from up-river, the Swimming Stone now sat on the opposite shore of the river.

Bear`s Head Rock is an offering rock situated on an island on the Churchill River. Following is a quote from the explorer Alexander Mackenzie`s Journal;
“At some distance from the silent rapids is a narrow strait, where the Indians have painted red figures on the face of a rock, and where it was their custom formerly to make an offering of some of the articles which they had with them, in their way to and from Churchill.
The course of this lake, which is very meandering, may be estimated at thirty-eight miles, and is terminated by the Portage du Canot Tourner from the danger to which those are subject who venture to run this rapid.
From thence a river of one mile and an half north-west course leads to the Portage de Bouleau, and in about half a mile to Portage des Epingles, so called from the sharpness of its stones.
Then follows the Lake des Souris, the direction across which is amongst islands, north-west by west six miles.
In this traverse is an island, which is remarkable for a very large stone, in the form of a bear, on which the natives have painted the head and snout of that animal; and here they also were formerly accustomed to offer sacrifices.”

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