The medicine wheel is identified by a cairn of rocks with spokes radiating outward in all directions, resembling a wagon wheel.
These formations made of stones are commonly known as “medicine wheels”. They do not always look like wheels, but many have a central cairn Surrounded by one or two rings, sometimes with spokes.
Many have been destroyed or altered, but most that remain are located in traditional Blackfoot Territory – mainly in Alberta, but also Montana and Wyoming, with some in Saskatchewan.
There are several in the vicinity of Siksika, including Majorville where bone from the bottom of the central cairn has been identified as 4,500 years old.
Their origins remain a mystery. Were they “Aw’kih’tawksini” or memorials? Were “omah’kaw’kih’tawkssinistsi” created in a large manner so the “Spoo’mitaapiksi”, or above people could see them from where they are in the universe?
Were they territorial markers? Calendars? Were they ceremonial? Were they sacred buffalo sites? Spiritual sanctuaries?
To the Blackfoot the medicine wheel is a shrine or offering to the sky beings, however, due to the enigma attached to the medicine wheel it is difficult to determine whether it was for spiritual or ritual purposes.
What is known for certain is that these very special places should be honoured and respected by everyone.