Old Man's Playing Ground: Gaming and Trade on the Plains/Plateau Frontier (BOK)
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When Hudson's Bay Company surveyor Peter Fidler made contact with the Ktunaxa at the Gap of the Oldman River in the winter of 1792, his Piikani guides brought him to the river's namesake. These were the playing grounds where Napi, or Old Man, taught the various nations how to play a game as a way of making peace. In the centuries since, travellers, adventurers, and scholars have recorded several accounts of Old Man's Playing Ground and of the hoop-and-arrow game that was played there. These same stories continue to be told, demonstrating the site's core significance in the sacred geography of First Nations in southern Alberta today. In this work, oral tradition, history, and ethnography are brought together with a geomorphic assessment of the playing ground's most probable location-a floodplain scoured and rebuilt by floodwaters of the Oldman-and the archaeology of adjacent prehistoric campsite DlPo-8. Taken together, the locale can be understood as a nexus for cultural interaction and trade, through the medium of gambling and games, on the natural frontier between peoples of the Interior Plateau and Northwest Plains.