Travel Guides to Canada

2016 Travel Guide to Canada

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TRAVEL GUIDE TO CANADA HERITAGE SITES L ocated in southwest Alberta, 18 km (11 mi.) north and west of Fort Macleod on Highway 785, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a 90-minute drive south of Calgary. In 1981, UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site. One of the world's largest, oldest and best-preserved buffalo jumps, the 73 sq. km (28 sq. mi.) site commemorates communal hunting techniques used by Plains people 5,700 years ago, preceding Stonehenge and Egypt's fi rst pyramid. NEARLY •,••• YEARS OF HISTORY Before Europeans arrived in the mid-19 th century, Blackfoot people built fi res and waved hides and blankets to stampede buffalo along stone cairn-lined, V-shaped drive lanes over 11-m (36-ft.) cliffs. From camps at the base, people processed and dried the meat, made dwellings and clothing from the tanned hides and tools from the bones, sinews and horns. Deep layers of bones and remnants of cooking pits and meat caches remain today. The Blackfoot name for the site, Estipah-skikikini-kots, refers to the legend of a boy whose head was smashed in while he watched the buffalo plunge over the precipice. INTERPRETIVE CENTRE The Interpretive Centre is built into the cliff beside the buffalo jump. From the viewpoint, you descend through fi ve levels of exhibits. The top level describes the local geography, climate, plants, grasses, animals and Native legends. On the second terrace, skylights illuminate a reconstruct- ed teepee and travois (A-shaped sled pulled by domesticated wolf pups in the pre-horse era). You can handle artefacts such as stone tools. A topographical model of the drive lanes depicts the buffalo hunt and its spiritual signifi cance on level 3. A re-enactment fi lm in the theatre brings it, and activities below the cliff, to life. Cultures in Contact exhibits on level 4 portray the decimation of buffalo herds after the arrival of Europeans with horses and guns, as well as the devastating consequences of epidemics on the Blackfoot population. On the bottom level, dioramas, photos and a fi lm interpret the Blackfoot lifestyle and culture, based on archaeological discoveries, such as knives, scrapers and projectile points. WHAT TO SEE AND DO Enjoy buffalo burgers and bannock in the cafeteria. Burn off the calories by walking along two paved outdoor interpretive trails—the cliff-top trail to the buffalo jump site and the lower loop trail to the base of the bluff where they fell. Twice daily, on Wednesdays in July and August, witness some of North America's best dancers and drummers perform on the plaza. Special events offer additional ways to experience Blackfoot culture. National Aboriginal Day on June 21 features drumming and dancing, as well as story- telling by elders, hand games and lessons on throwing the atlatl (traditional spear- thrower). During Buffalo Harvest Days on the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday in September, enjoy free tours and watch First Nations artists at work and artefact demonstrations, such as fl int-knapping. What's a great way to relive the buffalo hunt? Join a four-hour hike with Blackfoot guides to the ancient drive lanes on the fi rst Saturdays of May through October. More inforMation spm-whs/sec02/sec02e.aspx BUFFALO JUMP BY BARB & RON KROLL HEADƒSMASHEDƒIN HeaD-SMaSHeD-in BUffaLo JUMP • traVeL aLBerta/ePPo erKeS HeaD-SMaSHeD-in BUffaLo JUMP • aSYMetriC/DUStin Parr

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