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Okotoks, just south of Calgary: According to Piikani elders, this pictograph is believed to represent an important journey. The arrows on the right depict the direction of the journey – north. The human figures represent those who undertook the journey. The moons on the left indicate the length of time it took to complete the journey. There are 17 moons, meaning the journey took 17 months.

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Washout Creek along the shore of Kootenay Lake, B.C.: Multiple figures were painted at this site, often overlapping, indicating these pictographs were created over a long period of time – likely hundreds or even thousands of years. Drawings of a human figure with a drum and fir boughs suggest ceremonial activities took place here. Fir boughs were used in cleansing ceremonies of young females who had completed a vision quest. Vision quests marked the transition from childhood to adulthood for many Columbia Plateau groups. Also shown is a person hunting for sturgeon with a long spear, illustrating this was a good fishing spot.

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Sinclair Creek in Kootenay National Park, B.C.: The person on the left is dancing within a rayed arc, depicting a shamanistic activity. This was a common image among central Columbia Plateau aboriginal groups, but less so in eastern British Columbia, where this pictograph is located. The triangular-shaped figure on the right is of a different rock art tradition and may have been painted at a different time. In the figure’s hand is a circle or drum, indicating a ceremonial activity.

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Cochrane Ranche in Cochrane, Alta.: This is a classic shield-bearing warrior image that was common among Northern Plains aboriginal groups such as the Piikani. Several hundred shield-bearing warrior pictographs are found along the Alberta foothills, especially in the area of Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park.

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Armstrong Bay along the eastern shore of Columbia Lake, B.C.: A figure with two small horns is shown within a rayed arc. The “two-horned headdress” was a common Columbia Plateau decoration for a shaman, representing twin intellects, such as spiritual insight and wisdom in healing.

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Twin Bays along the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake, B.C.: Accessible only by water, this site contains exceptionally vibrant Columbia Plateau rock art. Several motifs are shown, including a rayed arc and water spirits, such as a frog, salamander and muskrat. Small mountain goats are also depicted, indicating this was an important hunting area.

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