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Key Number: HS 22939
Site Name: Saamis Archaeological Site
Other Names:
Site Type: 1910 - Archaeological Site


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
12 6 4

Address: Seven Persons Creek
Number: N/A
Street: N/A
Avenue: N/A
Town: Medicine Hat
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure:
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: N/A
Interior: N/A
Environment: Aprox. 35 ha. The Saamis Site is located within the City of Medicine Hat in southeastern Alberta. The site is situated on two terraces of Seven Persons Creek, a tributary of the South Saskatchewan River.
Condition: The site is in generally good condition and its environs are upspoiled; most urban development cannot be seen from the site. Some impacts have occurred through to be minimal vis-a-vis the site size.
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
17 century A.D.

Usage: Usage Date:
Winter camp

Owner: Owner Date:
City of Medicine Hat
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: The Saamis site is a Late Prehistoric-Protohistoric campsite located in the valley of Seven Person's Creek on the western periphery of the city of Medicine Hat. The site was excavated from 1971-73 by students from Medicine Hat College under the direction of Laurie Milne. Two major cultural levels were discovered. The earliest is exposed at various locations along the banks of the Creek and is about 0.5 to 0.75 m below surface. It represents meat processing activities with bison being the main animal hunted. A radiocarbon date of A.D. 1515 - 125 years (S-824) was obtained. The most recent occupation consists of a very large extensively occupied campsite which entends from the ground surface to approximately 20 cm below surface. It has been radiocarbon dated at A.D. 1740 80 years (S-827). A small amount of trade goods were also recovered and include a metal point and various types of glass trade beads.
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Building / Site Description : The Saamis Site is located within the City of Medicine Hat in southeastern Alberta. The site is situated on two terraces of Seven Persons Creek, a tributary of the South Saskatchewan River. The Saamis Site is a Protohistoric campsite, dating to the latter years of the 17th century A.D. It was occupied duringt late winter-early spring. Material recovered includes many stone tools, pottery, bone, beads, and a few European trade goods. The site is considered to be the major Protohistoric winter campsite currently known in southeastern Alberta. It is an ideal location for possible interpretation, being only a few hundred metres from the Trans Canada Highway.
Historical Significance : The Saamis Site is the only major Late Prehistoric-Protohistoric single component winter campsite known in southeastern Alberta. It thus represents the final stage of a 12,000 year old tradition of pedestrian big game hunters in sothern Alberta. Within one generation fo its abandonment, the horse had wrought major changes in human adaptation to the Alberta plains. The Saamis Site contains great quantities of information in the form of a rich and diverse artifact assemblage. This assemblage includes various stone tools, bone tools and pottery, as well as a bead manufacturing industry, and some European trade goods.
Archaeological Significance: The archaeological significance of the Saamis Site lies in the scientific and research potential of the site. The Saamis Site contains a great density and diversity of artifact and faunal remains. It represents a complete record of all artifact classes known from the Later Prehistoric Period, and includes examples of many stages of artifact manufacture. The types of cultural features present are also numerous and diverse. These factors combine to provide excellent potential to address a wide range of research problems.
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... Interpretation Several independent lines of evidence indicate that the Saamis Site was occupied during late winter to early spring. The primary physical indicator is the presence of foetal bison bone recovered from the site. Since calving peaks in mid-May, teh foetal bone must indicate the animals were killed after the foetus was sufficiently advanced to develop preservable skeletal elements but prior to calving; that is in late winter or early spring (Reynolds, Glaholt and Hawley 1982: 982). Ethnographic evidence (Arthur 1975, Ewers 1958) suggests that the site locale is consistent with the known winter occupation pattern of the Plains Indians. The site would have produced water, shelter, and especially the firewood necessary to survive the winter months. Thus the Saamis Site can be confidently described as a winter camp. ... In summary, the Saamis Site was a campsite occupied for several months in the winter. The inhabitants harvested bison by communal kill techniques, processed the carcasses on the periphery of their camp, and prepared and consumed the meat within the camp itself. A variety of other tasks including hide-working, clothing production and bead manufacturing were undertaken. The people had trading relationships which provided them with stone from lithic quarries to the south and west. As well, limited European trade goods were reaching them from the northeast, probably through Indian middlemen. The people were still pedestrian hunters and their culture was the culmination of 10,000 years of adaptation to the harsh environment of Alberta's plains.
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Draft Press Release
The Saamis Site The Minister of Culture, Mary J. LeMessurier, announced today that the Saamis Site in Medicine Hat was designated a Provincial Historic Resource The Saamis Site is located in the boom of Seven Persons Coulee. The ready availability of natural resources such as wood, water, and shelter were critical to winter survival and account for extensive use of the area by Plains Indians. The winter campsite established here was occupied in the late 1600s or early 1700s according to radiocarbon dating. A major buffalo meat-processing area is situated adjacent to the campsite. As well as hearths and bone piles, a great variety of artifacts are present. These include stone arrowheads, knives, butchering, and skinning tools, drills and other items. The finer items were made from high-quality stone imported from Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Bead manufacturing was important at the site; both bone and local red shale were used. A few glass beads and metal arrowheads indicate the beginning of trade with Europeans. The Saamis Site is archaeologically significant in terms of its date and quality of remains. Very few sites have been discovered which date to the transition period of initial European contanct, while the richness of the cultural deposists both in quantity and variety, indicated the site is of great scientific value. Knowledge of this important site, discovered by a local resident in the 1960s, was the result of careful excavations conducted by L. Milne Brumley and students of the Medicine Hat College.
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Designated area - LSDs 10, 11, 14, 15, 16 Sec 24 and LSDs 2 and 3 Sec 25, Tp 12, R 6, W4M.


Status: Status Date:

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/26


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0185
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