Monday, May 6, 2013

Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump Day 4

Lethbridge, Alberta

Oki, Kiitsiksiksimaatstsimohpinaan (Indian for Hello, We welcome you). Longer than 


Ray's first wildlife sighting of the day.

This is the campground where we are staying.

On the way to the Buffalo Jump.

According to the legend, the name Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump comes from a young Peigan boy who stood under the cliff during one particular hunt to get an up-close view of the buffalo falling over the ledge. However, the hunt was large and the young brave was soon crushed. When his people came to do the butchering, they found him with his skull crushed by the weight of the buffalo carcasses.

 There are five levels of the interpretive center each telling a different aspect of the area’s history. The first level, Napi’s World, and how they learned to hunt the buffalo.  Level two, Napi’s People show the lifestyle of the Plains people and includes a reconstructed tipi.  Third level tells the story of the jump sites and including the gathering basin, drive lanes and the cliff. The ceremonial significance of the hunt was also discussed.  On this level there was also a theater showing a film that recreates a buffalo drive. On the forth level, Cultures in Contact, the arrival of the European settlers and the positive and negative impacts was explained.  On the final floor, Uncovering the Past, show the archaeology behind the center.

Photo of one of the archaeologists.
How did the Blackfoot Indians get the buffalo to jump of the cliff? A strong understanding of buffalo behavior was required for the buffalo jump to be successful. The hunt began when several young men –the buffalo runners- were sent out to locate the herds and to manipulate animals into the lines of rock lanes called “driving lanes”. The lanes consisted of small piles of rocks spaced about 16 to 32 ft. apart and stitched for many feet to the west of the cliff. The rock pile would be made larger by adding brush. This was used like a funnel to the cliff.

By the time the panic-stricken lead buffalo topped the short rise before the cliff and saw the edge, it was too late.  Its own momentum and the herd behind pressed it over the edge.  Every part of the buffalo was used and nothing was wasted.

This is the main Buffalo Jump. Further along the cliff is another jump. Many others have been discovered in other areas. 

The early archaeologists wondered why there we no skills with the bones. It was later discovered that the Indians gathered them and placed them in circle with the belief that they would call other Buffalo to the hunting grounds. 

 We were told that cougars and bear have been sighted in the area, but all the wild animals we saw were Marmots, which almost posed for us.

This one actually turned around and faced me.

This one was facing the building and got up and turned around, and then laid back down.

One of the exhibits.

Ray was a lot slower coming up the trail, than I was.

One of the uses for Buffalo meat.
With the senor discount and being in the “off” season the cost was $8.00 each.  We spent several hours exploring each level and the grounds. It should not be missed when traveling through Lethbridge.

We also stopped at Fort Macleod. Since Tuesday will be a day of rest, you can't be on the go constantly, I will write about the fort and town then.

Total spent for entertainment $33.00.
Thanks for dropping by.

No comments:

Post a Comment