Mark your calendars, the destruction of a ‘heritage’ plot of land formerly known as the Bower Natural Area, has begun.
In early July, the transformation began of a plot of land farmed for over 100 years into another, unnecessary retail heaven. I drove by for days, watching new power poles being installed as the old sand hill was removed.
Formerly, the land had been productive for a century, and prior to that, was used as an elk pound by the Cree. With that in mind, the Cree used the area north of Red Deer (now Westlake) across from Heritage Ranch as a wintering ground. Prior to the construction of the new area, dozens of tipi rings dotted the area, all undocumented and unnoticed by provincial archaeologists. The loss of the archaeological heritage should have raised the ire of the historical community. In addition to tipi rings, arrowheads, hammerheads, tools, and trade goods could have been documented for posterity. But they were not.
With the elk pound now being dozed into obscurity and no archaeological survey being done on the land, we are now seeing more heritage and priceless artifacts destroyed. Can you imagine the information on the people who were in this area pre-contact that could be discovered? As the land has been tilled for decades, many artifacts would be destroyed, but beneath the one foot level, history can yet be found.
There would be burials, hearths, elk bones, petroglyphs, decorative items and trade goods.
We will never know.
In our modern society, ‘progress’ is often made at the sacrifice of history. Such projects are almost always done by outsiders with no appreciation nor understanding of the environmental value of the land.
Such as it is with this area.
I am saddened that the City of Red Deer, who worked hard to preserve close to 20 acres of the area could not preserve more. However, I am more saddened that our council has seen fit to let rampant developers scream through prime agricultural land with no apparent efforts to preserve pre-contact history.
As one who has watched this unfold, I know it will continue but perhaps someday we will understand the cost of desecrating history for the sake for a few dollars more.
Tim Lasiuta, Red Deer