Jump Bison, Jump!

Southern Alberta has some great historic and archaeological visit0r-friendly sites, so it’s always nice to take some time and explore a local gem. This weekend we headed out past Buffalo Junction to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

The jump was utilized for over 6,000 years by the First Nations people utilizing the Plains and Foothills regions. Buffalo jumps were usually organized by larger communal groups, as a high amount of meat would have to be processed quickly before it spoiled in the hot sun and open air.

The interpretive centre has a great video of the process but essentially the bison/buffalo were ‘encouraged’ by young men dressed as wolves or coyotes to run full speed off a large cliff, dropping to their death below. Any surviving bison were clubbed so as not to give away the secret of the jump to other bison.

The interpretive centre is well laid out and very informative, and they’ve recently re-done their cafeteria and offer some great bison dishes if you needed additional encouragement to visit.

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