"Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump UNESCO Site" Fort Macleod by Bwana_Brown
Fort Macleod Travel Guide: 11 reviews and 29 photos
On our drive back to Calgary from Glacier National Park in Montana, before flying out for home the next day, my wife and I stopped at the uniquely named and interesting Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump site a few miles west of Fort MacLeod (near Lethbridge) in southern Alberta. Starting about 6000 years ago, an area of low cliffs here was used by native Americans for thousands of years as a means of harvesting large numbers of Buffalo by tricking the herds into periodic stampedes over the cliff. There are a few similar sites located elsewhere in the Prairies of North America, but HSIBJ is the most intact because of its remoteness from 'civilization'. Because of the unique nature of this hunting technique and the wealth of archeological material here, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
The strange name for this jump arises from a legend that recounts how a young brave wanted to closely observe the effects of one of these hunts by standing on a narrow ledge beneath the cliff that the herd would plunge off. He had a great view of the action as the animals fell past him to their deaths, but this hunt was so successful that the bodies of the animals piled up so high that he was eventually pinned against the cliff face by them. When the tribe finally completed their butchering of the carcasses, they found the body of the brave with his skull crushed by the weight of the dead animals.
- In a nutshell:A unique site with very well presented artifacts and history of the early culture of native American life on the Prairies
An excellent highway leads to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, with ample parking at the foot of the cliffs. The modern... more travel advice
The Buffalo provided native Americans with just about everything they needed to survive life on the Prairies, in both... more travel advice
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