Kichiota Indigenous Destinations: Special Places for Many Peoples
Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous tourism corridor – Kichiota Indigenous Destinations – is a partnership between Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Wanuskewin Heritage Park and Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation. The first of its kind in Canada, the corridor offers a variety of experiences that highlight the history and traditions of Northern Plains Indigenous cultures.
The name Kichiota has roots in both Cree and Dakota languages and is described as “a coming together of Indigenous languages, creating a whole greater than the sum of its parts.” There is no direct translation, but applied to this unique partnership, the meaning of the name becomes “special places for many peoples.”
Whitecap Dakota First Nation
Soak in the spectacular views of the award-winning golf course and South Saskatchewan River valley from the indoor rooftop pool at the newly built Dakota Dunes Resort & Casino. Located south of Saskatoon, the 155-room resort stands as a tribute to its Indigenous heritage with angular window trims and exterior wood panels echoing the traditional tipi. This thoughtful nod to the culture carries through to the hotel’s guest rooms by way of art and design.
The full-service resort also includes a 10,000-sq. ft. conference centre, the Moose Woods Home Fire Grill, which offers a farm-to-table dining experience, and an exhibit corridor leading to the curated Wanuskewin Gift Shop, where you can purchase unique, handcrafted items made by local First Nations artisans.
While enjoying a stay at the resort, hit the gaming floor at the Dakota Dunes Casino, pull out the clubs for a round at the 18-hole Dakota Dunes Golf Links or book an authentic Indigenous cultural experience through Dakota Dunes Adventures.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park
A gathering place for all nations of the Northern Plains for over 6,400 years, Wanuskewin Heritage Park is the longest-running archaeological dig site in Canada. This flagship attraction is also on its way to UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.
Photo supplied by Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Walk back in time as you follow the Path of the People, explore the Trail of Discovery or climb to the east prairie along the Trail of the Bison. Follow the Bison Viewing Trail to the lookout point to see Wanuskewin’s growing herd – all descendants of the last 1,000 bison on the prairies before near-extinction in the 1870s.
Through the centre’s immersive programming and expanded exhibits, learn about the cultural significance of the animal, as well as the role they played in a major archaeological find. Bison activity was credited with uncovering a 1,200-year-old petroglyph. Careful excavation revealed the stone tool used to carve the rock image, as well as three additional petroglyphs.
Taste traditional Indigenous cuisine with a contemporary twist at the refreshed restaurant, or browse the well-curated gift shop and art gallery. Experience a special evening at one of the park’s popular Han Wi Moon dinners. The outdoor dining event treats guests to a decadent meal made from foraged and locally sourced ingredients, served at sunset, followed by a campfire with storytelling. Other cultural experiences include archeological tours, native plant walks, and tipi sleepovers.
Photo supplied by Destination Canada
Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation
Photo supplied by Destination Canada
Overnight glamping, Indigenous cuisine (discover the secrets of making bannock!) and cultural performances and dancing are just some of the tourism offerings that will be available in 2023.
A 30-km portion of the Trans Canada Trail runs through the community and connects to Fort Carlton Provincial Park. The scenic, forested trail is the backdrop for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and ATV adventures.