Today, a visit to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump a short ride of 10 miles from Fort Macleod AB. This is a World Heritage site designated in 1981 by UNESCO, possibly the oldest,largest and best preserved of the many buffalo jump sites across the Western Plains. It is believed that this hunting grounds was used by the Plains people for nearly 6,000 years. It is located where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains.
|Buffalo Jump From Below|
|As Close As I will Get|
According to Blackfoot legends, a young boy wanted to witness the plunge of the buffalo as his people drove them off the cliff. Standing under the shelter of a ledge,he watched the great beasts fall. As the bodies of the buffalo mounted, he became trapped. When his people came to do the butchering, they found him with his skull crushed by the weight of the buffalo.
Prior to entering the interpretive center, we were treated to a program of Blackfoot drumming and dancing given each Wednesday during July and August. Drumming and dancing connected the peoples with the ancient buffalo hunting culture.At the end of the performance, the audience is asked to participate in a friendship dance.
|Even the Little Ones Participate|
|Flags of First Nations, USA & Canada|
Exhibits in the Interpretive Center occupy five levels telling stories of the early plains people, buffalo hunts, culture and change. There is also a one hour walking trail taking you to the butchering site then up to the kill site. We only walked from the top level of the Center to the viewpoint for the jump cliff. The kill site at the base of the cliff saw tens of thousands buffalo plunge to their death.
|Overlook at Buffalo Jump|
Traditional Buffalo hunting declined with the introduction of the horse and gun. Disease, trade goods and new economic forces led to the near extinction of the buffalo.
It is heartening to know so much of the culture has been carried on over the years in song, dance and legend. There is wisdom in their culture and beliefs. Their language, though difficult to understand, has a beautiful flow and is still spoken today.
Definitely recommend this visit if in the area for education and a better understanding of the culture and lives that once existed.
Tsiiksi'taami'tsihp nomohkootsiito'toohpa ( I am very plesed to have come here)