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Buffalo Jump

         

- Alberta

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Drumheller | Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump | Ksan Historic Village | Inuit Heritage Centre

The ancient inhabitants of south western Alberta faced a tough life which relied substantially on the Buffalo. They needed the Buffalo for food, shelter, clothing , and used it to create weapons, utensils, tools and other day to day implements.

This however was a time before the horse. Horses were only brought to North America when the Spanish arrived in Mexico and some escaped and slowly bred, migrated and occupied the vast expanses of North America.

Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump is a cliff on the prairies where the ground begins to roll as it approaches the Rocky Mountains. The natives determined that one of the most effect ways to hunt the large Buffalo was to use gravity as their weapon and would manipulate, direct, chase and hope that they could get the Buffalo to stampede along a route which would take them right over the cliff's edge and plunge to their death on the sharp rocks - in some cases 100 feet below.  Any Buffalo that were badly injured and not killed would then be pounced upon by the additional natives waiting below, and butchered with the weapons they had.

They were dependant upon this system of hunting until the horse and rifles changed the complexion of the society and hunt forever. The Museum climbs up the cliff as it tells the story of the hunt, and offers a spectacular view from the top where the where many buffalo grabbed their last glimpse of the world before they went over the edge.




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