Saturday we drove to Waterton but on the way we stopped at "Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump". When we lived in Canada I hunted every year in the Porky Pine Hills so I drove by this place all the time but I never took the time to stop and see what it was all about. Well they have since fixed it all up and boy is it cool. The visitors center is built into the side of the hill and they have a wonderful exhibit inside.
I always thought that the name of "Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump" was self evident. The Indians drove a herd of Buffalo off a cliff and they smashed their heads in. Apparently the legend is quite different. There was a foolish brave who wanted to see the buffalo fall to their deaths up close and personal. He decided to hide in a small hollow under an overhang of the cliff. As the buffalo fell over the cliff they would fall right in front of him and he got to see exactly what he wanted. Unfortunately the harvest was especially abundant that day and the dead buffalo stacked up until they fell on the brave and smashed his head in. I like my version of the story better.
The history of this site is fascinating. The cliffs used to be twice as high as they are now except the remains of the thousands of dead buffalo have accumulated over the centuries until now the cliffs aren't all that great. There were many jumps along this ridge but much of the archeological value for most of them has been lost since during the war they mined the old bones and used them for explosives. I guess they are a rich source of phosphorous. This sight however was not found until after so this site is quite precious.
From inside the center we were able to take an elevator to the top of the hill and look out over the cliffs. But inside the center they have a lot of historical information about the Indians who lived here and also a good history about the buffalo and the short sightedness that almost drove them to extinction.
There were several stories from buffalo hunters who thought the source of buffalo was essentially infinite and they couldn't imagine them ever becoming endangered. Several of them talked about how guilty they felt about how they acted when the herds were plentiful.
It was a fascinating place and well worth the stop.
And Justin, I don't think you were supposed to step over the rope and park Piper on top of the buffalo.