Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

On June 11 we left the valley of the Red Deer River and drove 145 miles to Fort MacLeod, where we checked into Daisy May Campground.  This campground had lots of trees, hookups, but very poor internet.

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We stayed here in Fort MacLeod for two nights because there was so much to see and do.  The historic town has been designated a provincial historic area by the Government of Alberta.  You can see the Empress, Alberta’s oldest operating theatre, and the Fort Museum, a former Northwest Mounted Police outpost.  The most interesting thing we did was to visit the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that honors the amazing history of the Blackfoot Aboriginals who dominated this land for hundreds of years.  First we visited the Interpretive Centre and walked around four floors of Indian History.  We saw a wall with many Indian pictures, which is shown here.  Also, there was a display of a replica of a buffalo jump.

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Next we walked outside of the Interpretive Centre and saw a real Buffalo Jump area and a  teepee that depicts what the Indians lived in.

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After seeing the Jump site I still wondered why Head-Smashed-In in the title.  So I did a little research and found out that a long time ago, according to one legend, the people were driving buffalo over the sandstone cliffs.  A young brave wanted to watch the buffalo tumbling past.  Standing under the shelter of a ledge, as if behind a waterfall, he watched the great beasts fall.  The hunt was unusually good that day and as the bodies piled up, he became trapped between the animals and the cliffs.  When his people came they found him with his skull crushed by the weight of the buffalo carcasses.

Not a very pretty story, but it tells of a practice by native people on the Great Plains for nearly 6,000 years.

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