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Big Muddy Heritage: Making a living digging in your back yard

The business is an archaeological, historic and heritage resources firms based in Saskatchewan.
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The Big Muddy Valley and Big Muddy Badlands were formed over 12,000 years ago near the end of the last ice age when a glacial lake outburst flood occurred from a pre-historic glacial lake located at present-day Old Wives Lake.

ASSINIBOIA - Dr. Dan Meyer, Ph.D., new resident to the RM of Hart Butte and Destiny Dawn, B.A., who has lived in the RM of Hart Butte for 11 years dig their business, Big Muddy Heritage Consulting Ltd. (BMHC).

The business is an archaeological, historic and heritage resources firms based in Saskatchewan, offering services throughout western Canada. Their work is to protect and study archaeological sites.

The Big Muddy encompasses centuries of history and a large part remains untold. Evidence of early civilization can be found throughout the area in the form of stone effigies, ceremonial circles and ancient buffalo jumps.

The Big Muddy Valley and Big Muddy Badlands were formed over 12,000 years ago near the end of the last ice age when a glacial lake outburst flood occurred from a pre-historic glacial lake located at present-day Old Wives Lake. Big Muddy Lake is a large salt lake at the heart of the badlands.

The Big Muddy badlands are included on the website, Great Canadian Bucket list

Dawn told the Assiniboia Times, “BMHC works with industrial proponents, government agencies, and Indigenous communities to meet requirements of Provincial, Territorial, and Federal regulations regarding the identification, assessment, protection, and investigation of heritage resources including archaeological and historic sites. We do this by providing comprehensive consulting services focusing on historical and archaeological impact assessments that are tailored to the unique needs of each client.”

Archeology, at its core, is a thrilling adventure that brings the past to life. It is a scientific discipline that combines detective work, puzzle-solving, and storytelling to uncover the intricate details of bygone civilizations. 

“We chose to open our business in Coronach as being in Southern Saskatchewan makes the location quite suitable for us to get hired for regional projects of any kind, and specifically alternative energy projects such as wind farms or solar energy that are cropping up.”

While Dan received his doctorate from the University of Calgary in 1999, Destiny is a University of Saskatchewan graduate, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology in 2007, followed by a Prairie Horticulture Certificate in 2023.

For now, the business is comprised of two people but Dawn said they have plans to expand in the future. “Our job is an absolute adventure; we see places most people have never seen. We have flown in helicopters over the Northwest Territories, driven quads and an Argo through the most beautiful forests, found incredible artifacts, and have worked across the country and beyond.”

Dawn acknowledges that their business focuses on helping to protect and study archaeological sites while helping development proponents proceed with their work, a balance that can be challenging. But, many of their daily challenges come in the form of obstacles in terms of access to the areas we would like to look for archaeological sites or test

“Some days require a lot of hiking through and over unfavourable terrain and deadfall, wildlife encounters, bad weather, and mosquitos... so many mosquitos. Archaeology is hard physical labour, involving a lot of hiking and shovelling under these conditions.”

The duo says that as an archaeological consulting company, they go ahead of projects, such as mining, forestry, pipelines, and new developments to survey the area for potential Historic and Prehistoric archaeological sites. If a site is found, it is mapped and flagged off for the developer to avoid. When a site cannot be avoided, they will go in and mitigate the site through excavation if need be.”

You can read more about this business duo and their work on their website https://bigmuddyheritage.com/