Bannock Point Petroforms

Shayne Thiessen

Deep within Whiteshell Provincial Park, at a place known as Bannock Point, stone turtles, snakes, humans and other patterns can be found strewn across the Canadian Shield rock.

Known as Petroforms, the Anishinabe believe these stone creations were left behind so that visitors might come and receive knowledge and healing at this site.

Petroforms are stones that have been laid in lines creating different geometric shapes. Usually created for religious purposes, they depict different animals and objects. It is important to note that the stones are not stacked, but instead laid side by side, which differentiates them from other rock art.

What do the stone figures mean? Traditionally certain shapes and figures have been associated with different meanings, however, there are no fixed interpretations. It is up to the individual to determine the meaning of each figure.

The Sweat Lodge

A Sweat Lodge is a place of healing and purification where ceremonies are performed. It is most commonly used by First Nations groups from the great plains.

According to some traditions, the Sweat Lodge originated when a young boy travelled to the dark side of the moon during a vision quest. Here he met the Seven Grandfathers who told him that he was sent by the Creator to carry a special gift back to the people. The gift was the instructions on building a Sweat Lodge to purify the body and mind.[1]

The Turtle

The turtle has traditionally represented truth and its purpose is to help you seak the truth in your life. [2]

What truths do you need to discover?

The Eagle

We can’t be 100% sure that this petroform does indeed represent an eagle, as there are several other birds that have meaning to the Anishinabe, including the raven and the mystical thunderbird. If it is an eagle, the associated meaning would probably have to do with love. Though, like all the petroforms, it is for the admirer to decide. [2]

The Snake

What does the snake represent? When I first saw its large size it reminded me of the legendary Manipogo. Stories of the Manipogo have been told for hundreds of years. Reported sightings of the creature go all the way back to the 1800s. [3]

The Landscape

After the last ice age ended, and the giant ice sheet retreated across the Canadian Shield, it left behind many rocks and boulders which created perfect material for the aboriginal people to leave a lasting impact on the landscape. Since the Precambrian rock faces are relatively level, they have provided a large canvas for them to work with. The jack pine, black spruce and tamarack forest act as a natural picture frame, outlining their boulder mosaics.

A lack of natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and earthquakes have allowed the petroforms to remain relatively untouched by nature.

Petroforms have been discovered across North America in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the northern United States.

The exact age of this site is unknown but some petroforms in Manitoba have been estimated to be almost 1500 years old. [1]


  1. Manitoba Parks – Bannock Point Petroforms
  2. Onijsay Aki
  3. Manitoba Parks – Manipogo
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Terry Twine
Terry Twine
4 days ago

Seeing the snake from above is really cool!

Terry Twine
Terry Twine
4 days ago
Reply to  Terry Twine

In fact, seeing all of the petroforms from above is really cool.

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