Bones, Boots, and Bison: Celebrating the Contributions and Career of Dr. Ernie Walker

Session Hosting Format: 
in-person session
Vendredi, mai 3, 2024 - 8:20am - 11:00am
Michelangelo B
  • Butch Amundson, Stantec Consulting Ltd.
  • Kathleen Willie, University of Saskatchewan
  • Eliann Guinan, Government of Saskatchewan, Heritage Conservation Branch
Contact Email: 
Session Description (300 word max): 

The career of Dr. Ernest Walker has touched many lives and places. His research as a Plains archaeologist led to the formation of Wanuskewin Heritage Park and his career as a University of Saskatchewan professor allowed him to mentor many students. Combined, they have substantially increased our knowledge of the discipline, Northern Plains archaeology in particular, and fostered the development of a Park worthy of the UNESCO World Heritage Designation that it seeks. Ernie has mentored many of us, and his work shaped the work we do today. In honour of his accomplishments and work as an archaeologist, we organized this session in his honour. A chance to share stories, speak of his work, impact, memories, and time spent working with him. Ernie retired from teaching in 2020, but maintains a strong relationship with USask, and is still continuing to supervise graduate students, and maintains relationships with many of his former students. We look forward to hearing from many of his former students and colleagues in this session as a means to show our appreciation for him and his stellar career. 

08:20 AM - 08:40 AM: Shaping Northern Great Plains Archaeology: Dr. Walker's influence on Cultural Resource Management in Saskatchewan
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Brent Kevinsen - Heritage Conservation Branch - Government of Saskatchewan
  • Heather Frary - Heritage Conservation Branch - Government of Saskatchewan

From his earlier work in cultural resources management, to research projects with the U of S, to inspiring and mentoring the following generations of students and consultants, Dr. Walker’s impacts on the field of heritage resource management cannot be understated. Dr. Walker’s many contributions include taking the initiative to protect heritage resources in and around the quickly expanding City of Saskatoon including Wanuskewin Heritage Park, and inventory surveys throughout the Saskatchewan plains.

Ernie’s studies and projects have helped to develop baselines and add to the province’s data in the early days of The Heritage Property Act. With his expertise, Ernie continues to assist the Heritage Conservation Branch. Since his early days at the U of S and throughout his long career, Ernie has been busy influencing the next generations of consultants, and has played a pivotal role to many of those in the CRM field.

08:40 AM - 09:00 AM: Lithic Resource Utilization and Cultural Assemblage at the Wolf Willow (FbNp-26) Site
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Bailey Pelletier - CanNorth

There is a small valley that sits right outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, known as the Opimihaw Valley. This valley is home to twenty-one archaeological sites that were identified in the early 1980’s through surveys. A heritage park, known today as Wanuskewin Heritage Park, was built in this Valley to preserve the sites and their rich history. The Wolf Willow site (FbNp-26) is one of the 21 identified sites and is a multi-component Precontact campsite located within the Opimihaw Valley. Excavations of the site began in 2010 and continued for another 10 years ending in the field season of 2020. This presentation will focus on the cultural assemblage from the 2015 to 2020 excavations.

09:00 AM - 09:20 AM: Ernie and the SAS: Over 50 Years of Contributions to Saskatchewan Archaeology
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Tomasin Playford - Saskatchewan Archaeological Society
  • Belinda Riehl-Fitzsimmons - Saskatchewan Archaeological Society
  • Karin Steuber - Saskatchewan Archaeological Society

When people think of Dr. Walker, different aspects of his multifaceted archaeological career might come to mind. Perhaps it is his enduring connection to Wanuskewin Heritage Park, his long tenure as an archaeology professor at the University of Saskatchewan, his forensics work, or maybe even his early CRM career. People often do not realize Ernie has also been a life-long advocate and supporter of the Saskatchewan Archaeological Society (SAS). Starting with his membership in 1973, he has contributed to the organization by presenting at numerous SAS and Chapter meetings, assisting with field or collections work, submitting articles to SAS publications, and collaborating on workshops, fieldschools, or otther public events. Join us as we take a retrospective look at these activities to highlight the enduring relationship between Ernie and the SAS.

09:20 AM - 09:40 AM: It’s a Long Way to Tipperary: From Wanuskewin to Big Muddy and Beyond
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Chuck Ramsay - AtkinsRealis

As a second year Chem Major I took my first Archaeology class from Dr. Ernest (Ernie) G. Walker in 1984. I was ‘hooked’ and enrolled as an Archaeology Major in Ernie’s Physical Anthropology courses and Archaeology field school at Tipperary Creek Park (now Wanuskewin). Eventually, as one of his Grad Students, I completed my Master’s Thesis on the Redtail Site (FbNp-16) at Wanuskewin in 1988 & 1989. Ernie set a high bar for archaeologists through his actions and engagement with the Indigenous partnership at Wanuskewin. Many of us learned by observation the respect and trust he developed with the Indigenous communities. Subsequently, I became involved in workshops in (SAS, SAPA) 1990-1993 with the archaeology and Indigenous communities that initiated the CAA’s Aboriginal Policy. Following Ernie's example, as a consulting archaeologist, I continued to apply Indigenous engagement and involvement in projects and Traditional Knowledge studies. I also actively support the Indigenous ReconciliAction Plan at AtkinsRealis that follows the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business’ Progressive Aboriginal Relations’ (PAR) pillars of Leadership Actions, Employment, Business Development, and Community Relations.

09:40 AM - 10:00 AM: How to get a tan in Southern Saskatchewan: A Case Study from the Roan Mare Coulee Archaeological Project
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Eliann Guinan - Heritage Conservation Branch - Government of Saskatchewan

In 1988 and 89 a large-scale archaeological assessment of the Roan Mare Coulee was undertaken by Dr. Walker following the assessment of the Sabin Bison Jump (DhNe-1).  The study area encompassed a total of nine square-miles along the coulee system and resulted in the identification of 120 precontact archaeological sites which indicate a vast network of predominantly drive lines, kill sites and habitation sites.  Tests were excavated at a select few of the identified sites to determine the presence of buried occupations and potential diagnostic artifacts.  Subsequent studies showed the nuances between the landscape of Roan Mare coulee system and associated drive lines and kill sites.  The recording of these archaeological sites has provided a broad understanding of bison procurement strategies and the utilization of the natural landscape of the Big Muddy region. 

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM: Wanuskewin, Bison, and UNESCO – Where are we, and what’s Ernie been up to lately?
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Kathleen Willie - University of Saskatchewan

Wanuskewin Heritage Park started back in the early 1980s under Dr. Ernie Walker’s direction with archaeology happening throughout the valley for the last 40 years. Recently, Wanuskewin and Dr. Walker are working towards a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site designation for the park. One thought on how this could be done? Bison, past and present. Nearly every aspect of the park and its history comes back to bison in one way or another. Using archaeology, the contemporary bison herd at the park, and a vision held for decades, creating a statement of Outstanding Universal Value for Wanuskewin is challenging and complex. In honour of his continuing work at the park, this paper will present the current thoughts on UNESCO, World Heritage Designation, bison, and an update on Ernie and Wanuskewin today.

10:40 AM - 11:00 AM: Ernie Walker: Why I am an archaeologist but forgive him anyway
Format de présentation : In-Person
Auteur-e(s) :
  • Leslie Amundson - Stantec Consulting

Ernie Walker began teaching at the University of Saskatchewan when I was a 3rd year undergraduate in archaeology. I went on to be among his first of about 80 graduate students. I accompanied Ernie on the initial surveys of Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Beaver Creek, and much of what is now suburban Saskatoon. In that time I learned many lessons that I have carried with me in a consulting career of over 38 years. The most important take away from my time working with Ernie was his infectious enthusiasm and love for archaeology that inspired me to make archaeology my life's work. As I am soon to retire myself, I look back on a life well spent with gratitude for Ernie's pivotal role in my career's path. Many of my colleagues can say the same of Ernie as a third generation of his students enters the working world to make the world safe for archaeological sites. I will share some anecdotes and examples to illustrate my point.