A replica of the buffalo jump greets visitors as they enter the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretative Centre.
While a general tour of the area is fascinating, we decided to experience Piskun, the Buffalo Jump. This three-hour immersive experience took us back in time to learn the basics of buffalo hunting, get deeper into the Blackfoot culture, and get a much better appreciation of the site. After listening to the beautiful words of Little Leaf, we truly felt at ease. We then moved out into the museum to get some insight into what this site is all about. We learned about the tepee's, the wolves they tamed and used for work, the types of food they ate, and how they survived as a community, despite the harsh conditions of the prairies. We then moved outdoors to see the actual buffalo jump, where hundreds of thousands of buffalo were herded off the 36-foot cliff and to their demise throughout the centuries. What's truly incredible about the buffalo jump, however, is how they managed to do it.
With intelligently organized and trained groups of men, they would use the buffalo's instincts to their advantage. One man would dress up as a young buffalo acting like it was in distress. Others would dress as wolves to carefully scare the Buffalo into the path they wanted them in. Further, more men would plant various shrubs along the path and hide behind them with buffalo hides. As the buffalo began to slowly pick up speed until their eventual full-out stride, these men would hold up the buffalo hides to create darkness on both sides of the path, so that the running buffalo couldn't see any light to enable their escape.