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Head Smashed-in Buffalo Jump Tour

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, located where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet the great plains, is one of the world's oldest, largest, and best preserved buffalo jump's known to exist. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, Head-Smashed-In has been used continuously by the Prairies First Nation (Blackfoot) peoples of the plains for more than 5,500 years. The Blackfoot bands were nomadic. The structure of their movements was dictated by the location of the bison herds, the weather and the season. This structured movement is known as the seasonal round.

In mid-summer, when the Saskatoon berries were ripe, the bands came together for the Sun Dance. The Sun Dance was the major tribal ceremony in historic times. This was the only time of year when all the people of the tribe assembled at the same place. After the Sun Dance, the bands again separated to pursue the buffalo. In the fall, the bands would gradually shift to their wintering areas and prepare the bison jumps and pounds. Several bands might join together at particularly good sites, such as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. As the bison moved into the area, drawn by water and richer forage than the burned-dry summer grasses, communal kills would again occur, and the people would prepare dry meat and pemmican for winter. Such dry food stores were used as emergency supplies for those times when the bison were not near. At the end of the fall, the Blackfoot would move to their winter camp locales.

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