Thursday, September 30, 2010

Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, near Lethbridge, AB, Sept 27, 2010

We were headed out this morning to visit Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, it was about 50 miles west of where we are staying in Lethbridge.   The Visitor Center is well camouflaged into the hillside.  The name of this park was not named for the buffalos meeting their death here, but legend has it for a young brave wanted to watch the buffalo tumble over the cliff.  So he stood under the cliff and watched the great beasts fall.  The hunt was unusually good that day and the bodies piled up and trapped him between the dead buffalo and the cliffs. When his people came to do the butchering, they found him with his skull crushed by the weight of the buffalo carcasses.  Thus the name “Head-Smashed-In”.

IMG_2151 First we watched their introductory film, then walked out to see where the buffalo were channeled down to the cliff edge.  They estimate hundred of thousands of buffalo charged over the cliff to their demise.  But their demise meant survival to the First Peoples who butchered them for their sustenance.   Below is the cliff edge where the buffalo were driven over, either they died on impact or were killed shortly after as the First Peoples believed that if any escaped, they would go tell the others and the next years hunt would be unsuccessful.

IMG_2141 Here is the cliff as seen from below.  In the center you can see a person standing where I took the above photo.

IMG_2150“Under your feet are dozens of layers of buffalo bones mixed with artifacts, dirt and rock rubble representing thousands of years of use of this jump.   In some places the deposits are more than 10 (abt 30 feet) meters deep.  Radiocarbon dating of bone from the oldest deepest layers reveals that the jump was used to kill buffalo more than 5,600 years ago.  At that time the drop from the cliff would have been much higher and more fatal.  The jump may have been used hundreds of time up until the middle of the last century.  As soil, rock and artifacts built up over time, the drop would have been shorter and less fatal.  The thousands of arrowheads found in the upper layers attests to the need to kill crippled animals.”

IMG_4413 On display was a moccasin made from buffalo hide, the fur was turned to the inside, talk about fur lined slippers.

IMG_4423 This bone was found with an arrowhead still embedded.  Hopefully you can read the enlarged field notes.

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This is the first time I have ever seed a Winter Count Robe.IMG_4418 This Indian Winter Count covers the time period from 1764 to 1879 and is one of the longest Winter Counts on record.  


We were lucky to get a photo of this Canadian Pacific Railway High Level Bridge train trestle in Lethbridge with a train crossing it.   This  5,327’ long 314’ feet high bridge was built in 1908 and 1909 for a cost of over 1.3 million dollars.  Some claims state that it is the highest and longest trestle bridge in the world.


Tomorrow we are headed to Writing on Stone Provincial Park about two hours away, after our visit there,  then back into the States. 

1 comment:

E Squared and Mui said...

This is a great place, isn't it? Such insight into the past.

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