Pictographs on Artery Lake, Bloodvein River System, Extreme Northwest Ontario, Canada

Lenville Stelle

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The pictographs of the Bloodvein River, Artery Lake, Ontario offer an important view of rock art design and purpose during the late prehistoric period and perhaps continuing well into the nineteenth century. All images are finger applied and utilize iron oxide based pigment. The sites appear to be of varying function. The largest and most complex consists of seven or eight panels and may reveal a narrative of healing associated with the Fourth Degree of the Midewiwin or Ojibwe Grand Medicine Society. The second appears to be a signpost indicating correct travel routing. The third consists of a substantially degraded panel and is of uncertain purpose. The iconography may be dominated by a representation of Mishipeshu (Mishibijiw) or the Underwater Panther. All three sites are subject to the forces of cryoturbation peculiar to boreal North America. Additionally, while Artery Lake is extremely remote (two weeks travel by canoe from the nearest road-head) insofar as the Bloodvein is a designated Canadian Heritage River there are a measurable number of informed visitors to the sites, many of whom are motivated to extensive photo documentation of their grand adventure. This circumstance has created uncommon difficulties for site preservation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event2018 Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting - Washington, United States
Duration: Apr 11 2018Apr 15 2018
Conference number: 83


Conference2018 Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • ISAS


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