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  • Cokel Forestry

Team Building at Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

People are a company’s biggest asset and providing time for teams to get together and connect with one another is a key element to success. Recently, an ICPP crew visited the Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre near Fort Macleod, Alberta, one of the oldest and largest buffalo jump sites in North America, to spend time together while learning about key Indigenous history in the area.

Head Smashed In was used for killing buffalo by generations of Indigenous people for approximately 6 000 years, which is a testament to both the ideal conditions for buffalo jumping and the skill of the hunters who learned to exploit the natural landscape and their understanding of bison behaviour despite the lack of complex weapons. “The 18 metre cliff facing east, opposite the prevailing winds, prevented bison from smelling the kill site. A large basin of grassland west of the cliff regularly attracted large herds of bison. Over a period of days they could be lured towards the precipice to their deaths. The large stretch of prairie immediately below the cliff provided a source of fresh water and shelter for camping, butchering and processing activities.”(Buffalo Tracks, p.3). The jump was last used 150 years ago when it was no longer needed due to the introduction of guns and horses as a means of hunting.

Not only is Head Smashed In culturally important as a hunting ground but also because of the way its history has been verbally shared through storytelling by Indigenous elders. Storytelling for Indigenous cultures is a way to share history and instill knowledge. Storytellers are trained and are known as knowledge keepers. Head Smashed In is recognized by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), which puts it in the same category of importance as Machu Picchu in Peru, the Taj Mahal in India, and the Pyramid fields of Egypt. Who knew Alberta had such rich history!?!?

Buffalo Tracks - About The Jump! | Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (

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