The following Information from:
Historic & Cultural Heritage
When the last glacier retreated northward from southern Manitoba about 10,000 years ago, early hunters and gatherers began moving into the area in search of game. Recent archaeological evidence suggests that Indigenous peoples have inhabited the area of what is now the park for 6000 years, possibly longer. Today many sites exist within the park which represent habitation, fishing, hunting, tool and pottery making, and burial activities.
During more recent historic times, various Indigenous groups inhabited the region. The Ojibway migrated from eastern regions to inhabit the Riding Mountain area, previously the home of the Nakota (Assiniboine) Nation. The Nakota are known to have traveled widely and regularly between the Souris, upper Assiniboine, South Saskatchewan and Missouri rivers long before horses played a significant role in their travels. The Nakotas shifted west and south due to their declining numbers caused by European diseases, shifting tribal boundaries, declining local bison herds and resources for trading, and a westward shifting of the fur trade establishments, particularly up the Missouri River.
The Ojibway, active suppliers to the fur trade, roamed the Riding Mountain area in pursuit of fur as well as maintaining a traditional lifestyle of fishing and hunting. The creation of Canada necessitated the signing of treaties between the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples in the 1870s. These treaties created the reserve system and today there are several First Nation communities around the Park.
In 1896, a Fishing Reserve was established on the shores of Clear Lake for the Keeseekoowenin Objiway First Nations at Elphinstone. This Indian reserve was wrongfully removed in 1930 by the Department of the Interior at the time of the establishment of the Park. This land was returned to the Keeseekoowenin Objiway First Nation in 1991 after a land claim by the Band. Additional lands in this area, commonly referred to as the 1906 lands, are presently the focus of a land claim by the Keeseekoowenin Objiway First Nations. Oral histories of various First Nations’ elders have added to this archaeological and geographical knowledge. Understanding of the strong spiritual meaning that the mountain provided to Indigenous people has grown. The sacredness of the mountain is linked to its abundant water.
Settlement by Europeans occurred in the region in the late 1800s. During the depression of the 1930s the park supported a large work camp. Many of the facilities that visitors still enjoy today were constructed at that time. Domestic timber harvest, haying and livestock grazing took place but no longer continue. Grey Owl, a well known spokesman-advocate for conservation in Canada, lived in the area for a short time. His cabin has been restored for public viewing. In 1994, the East Gate entrance to the park was recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
Last modified: June 26, 2020