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Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site


FEEL THE SPIRIT.

As soon as you walk out onto the drive lane of the traditional hunt, you feel it. Spirit.


Statement of Significance

"The significance of the landscape of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump lies in its cultural, archaeological, and scientific interest.

The deep layers of bison bones buried below the cliff represent nearly 6000 years of use of the buffalo jump by Aboriginal people of the Northern Plains. This landscape is an outstanding illustration of subsistence hunting techniques that continued into the late 19th century and which still form part of the 'traditional knowledge base' of the Plains nations. It throws valuable light on the way of life and practices of traditional hunting cultures elsewhere in the world.

Criterion (vi): Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the oldest, most extensive, and best preserved sites that illustrate communal hunting techniques and the way of life of Plains people who, for more than five millennia, subsisted on the vast herds of bison that existed in North America." United Nations Education, Scientific, Cultural Organization, UNESCO.


The story told from the top of the Heritage Site and Museum, begins beautiful and rich in storytelling.


Each level dives deeper in the significance of the Bison/Buffalo for the Blackfoot people.


The significance of the Moon phases and how they were used as knowledge and symbol of when to harvest or plant is reflected throughout the museum. The practice of lunar wisdom or moon phases being used to plant, harvest, hunt has be used in most all cultures in the world. My grandfather and great-grandfather passed down their traditional ways of moon phases from my Ukrainian culture. Although, I was born in the Northwest Territories, the moon phases where considered important even then and became more important to me as I understood them as an adult. This museum and four hour hikes based on the hunt and traditional moon name, brought me home.


Each level became darker with historical documentation of the massive killing practices once the guns, trains and European cultures began to settle in the plains due to the railroad expansion. Hunting bison from the windows of trains became a sport and the bison were simply left where they fell.


Once I reached the area where the bison skulls were laid I felt it once again. Spirit.

Across the Plains, hunters shot buffalo to supply meat to trading and military posts, and to railway construction crews. Eastern demands for bison hides to produce industrial drive belts led to an unprecedented slaughter.

Even those on travel adventures and research expeditions were guilty of waste in 1843.

The writing on the wall ends with a quote, " the unfortunate buffalo was without a moment's peace..." Richard Dodge

To further your knowledge in our history, take a day to go on an Alberta adventure with a road trip to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site.

Hike to the Drive Lanes

Hike to the ancient drive lanes with our Blackfoot guides. Hear stories of how the plains people hunted the mighty buffalo.

Program Details
  • Be prepared for an off-trail hike and dress appropriately for inclement weather.

  • Hike is 4 hours: 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

  • Bring lunch and a water bottle.

  • This program is not recommended for small children.

Hike Dates in 2018
  • May 5 - Moon of the Flower/Crocus

  • June 2 - Moon of the Longest Day

  • July 7 - Moon of the Berry

  • Aug. 4 - Moon of the Buffalo Rut

  • Sept. 1 - Moon of the Leaves Falling

  • Oct. 6 - Moon of the People Going to Winter Camp

Register
  • Register in advance as space is limited.

  • Regular admission plus $5 program fee/person.

  • Contact the Centre by phone at 403-553-2731 or by email at education.bookings@gov.ab.ca.


JUNE 21ST - National Indigenous People's Day

On National Indigenous People's Day, immerse yourself in the Plains Blackfoot way of life.

9AM-5PM

  • Experience the sound and spectacle of drumming and dancing.

  • Interact with our performers.

  • Listen to Blackfoot elders tell stories about the plains buffalo culture.

  • Try your hand at Atl Atl throwing, an ancient hunting technique.

  • Guided facility tours, a live display of Alberta birds of prey, and Indigenous food sampling are all included.

  • No registration required. All activities free with admission.



Piskun, the Buffalo Jump

This 3-hour immersive experience will take you back in time to learn the basics of buffalo hunting.

Program Details
  • Every Monday and Friday in July and August, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.

  • Take part in a traditional Blackfoot blessing, taste dried buffalo meat, and re-enact the buffalo jump.

  • Hit your mark with an ancient spear thrower and take home your own arrowhead.

  • This program is not recommended for children under 6 years of age or individuals with mobility issues. Children under 6 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

  • The program runs 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. You may want to arrive early, or plan to stay late to visit the exhibits.

  • Portions of this program take place outside, and you will be walking on gravel trails (with hills), as well as on grassy surfaces. Please dress appropriately and be prepared for inclement weather.

What to Bring
  • Closed-toe hiking boots or shoes

  • Water bottle

  • Sunscreen

  • Brimmed hat

  • Insect repellent (there are ticks and mosquitoes)

  • Sweater or fleece

  • Long pants

  • Camera

Register
  • Register in advance as space is limited.

  • Regular admission applies plus $25 program fee per person.

  • Payment is due when you arrive at the center.

  • We accept cash, debit, and credit card.

  • Contact the Centre by phone at 403-553-2731 or by email at education.bookings@gov.ab.ca.


Location

18 kilometres (15 minutes) north and west of Fort Macleod on secondary Highway #785 (paved)

Fort MacLeod, Alberta

403-553-2731

Hours

Summer Hours May 15, 2018 to September 2, 2018

  • Monday

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Tuesday

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Wednesday

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Thursday

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Friday

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Saturday

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Sunday

9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Winter hours commence September 3

Admission
  • Adult (18-64)

$15

  • Senior (65+)

$13

  • Youth (7-17 )

$10

  • Family (2 Adults + Youths. Maximum of 8 people.)

$40

  • Child (0-6)

Free

  • Canadian Military and Family (with CFOne card)

Free

  • Cultural Access Pass

Free

Group Tour Net rates available

For more information to their programs and museum, click here.


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