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Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump a UNESCO world heritage site

No visit to southern Alberta is complete without a stop at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Located 18 kilometres north and west of Fort Macleod, this UNESCO world heritage site is one of the largest, oldest and best-preserved buffalo jump sites in all of North America.
The site, which celebrates its 32nd anniversary in 2018, tells the story of a custom practiced for nearly 6,000 years by the original inhabitants of the plains.
According to legend, the name Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump comes from a young Peigan boy who stood under the cliff during one particular hunt to get an up-close view of the buffalo falling over the ledge.
However, the hunt that day was particularly large, and the young brave was soon crushed under the pile of dead buffalo.
The five levels of the interpretive centre each tell a different aspect
of the area’s rich history.
The first level, Napi’s World, introduces the visitor to the environment of southern Alberta and introduces the origin of the Plains aboriginals and how they learned to hunt the buffalo.
On level two, Napi’s People shows the lifestyle of the Plains people and includes a reconstructed tipi and offers visitors a hands-on approach with a selection of artifacts.
The third level tells the story of the jump sites, including the gathering basin, drive lanes and
the cliff. The ceremonial significance of the hunt is also discussed.
This level also includes a theatre showing a film that recreates a
buffalo drive.
On the fourth level, Cultures in Contact, the arrival of the European settlers and the positive and negative impacts they had on the Plains people is explored.
On the final level, Uncovering the Past shows the archaeology behind the interpretive centre and how to study and learn about the past.
The interpretive centre marks National Indigenous Peoples’ Day each year on June 21 with a celebration to recognize the contributions of First Nations’ people to the fabric of Canadian
society. Blackfoot drummers, dancers and historians are on hand to entertain and workshops featuring storytelling and traditional games are held.
Free daily programming is offered Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Every Wednesday during July and August the entrance to the centre will feature some of the best First Nations dancers in all of western Canada performing to live Blackfoot drumming and singing.
The traditional prairie chicken dance, ladies fancy shawl, jingle dress, ladies’ traditional dance, hoop dance and fancy dance are a few of the dances that might be seen each week.
The lively and colourful performances take place at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. outside on the pavilion at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Every Monday and Friday from 1-4 p.m. in July and August the site hosts “Piskun, The Buffalo Jump,” a three-hourexperience with a Blackfoot blessing, dried buffalo meat tasting and re-enactment of a buffalo jump.
Head-Smashed-In will celebrate Buffalo Harvest Days on Sept. 28-30 in conjunction with Alberta Culture Days with special weekend displays of arts and crafts, story-telling by Blackfoot elders, as well as demonstrations of traditional First Nations drumming and dancing.
There are also celebrations on Family Day, February 18, 2019, and guided talks on a hike to the drive lanes from May to October from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For more information call 403-553-2731 or visit www.history.

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