Culture in Southern Alberta: A Trip to Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

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Earlier this year we took a visit to Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, an aboriginal culture site in Southern Alberta.  For thousands of years the Blackfoot people used this site as a mass kill hunt site to provide food, tools, and clothing for their people.  There is now an interpretive center on the site that provides an excellent educational experience to visitors year round.  We went in the early spring, meaning the snow was by and large all gone, but none of the peak season amenities(the cafeteria in particular) were open.  This didn’t dampen our spirits, and in fact allowed us to have a more intimate experience, as the place was mostly empty.

In some places this would create complacency and perhaps even laziness in the staff.  Not so here!  After paying our admission, we were greeted by one of the interpretive staff, and older gentleman whose name completely escapes me.  He took us to a room off the main area to get our pictures taken with a large buffalo, and took the time to explain the cultural significance of several objects in the room.  He also taught the kids how to play a couple old Blackfoot games with the toys that they had there.  He was honestly one of the best parts of the visit!

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My wife and son.  My daughter wouldn’t go anywhere neat this buffalo.

After having a great experience with the interpreter, we watched a short video on how the buffalo jump was used, and let me tell you, the individuals that led and pursued the buffalo to and off of the jump must have had nerves of steel.  Wow.  Talk about courageous, ingenious, and a little bit crazy all at once.  We then made our way to the top floor.  From there you can make your way out to the top of the jump, which also gives you a terrific view of the area.  My daughter and I braved the cold March wind and made our way out, and were gifted with an excellent view of the prairie and valleys that surround the jump.20170319_114921[1]

We then made our way back inside, ate the sandwiches we’d packed(all the while wishing we’d come when the cafeteria was open, as I could’ve really gone with a Bison burger that day), and made our way through the museum.  The exhibits were really well laid out.  They use a good mix of diorama, interactive technology, and the awesome people who work there to provide a great experience that is both educational and entertaining.

This is an excellent site to visit if you’re touring Southern Alberta, being just off the #2 highway.  It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is pretty damn cool.  For more information on things like hours and admission costs, check out their website.

Check it out, enjoy, and have some fun learning about a neat part of Alberta’s history!

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