Even further out of town, to Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump
Yesterday I drove 150km north, today I drove 190km south to a special place called Head Smashed In. It is an ancient buffalo jump, where the Blackfoot First Nations developed a distinct way of life for over 6000 years. This is such a magical place. No wonder it’s a UNESCO world heritage site.
In the autumn, when the buffalo were fat from the summer grasses, the Blackfoot would hide under wolf and elk hides and stampede the herd over the jump.
At the bottom of the jump would be a temporary camp for butchering and preserving and using every single piece of the animal.
Every animal was mercifully killed, because it was believed that any animal left alive would tell the rest about the jump and the animals would be wiser and stop the stampede.
Here at Head Smashed In is a spring for fresh water, a river near by, trees for firewood, plenty of wild berries, like saskatoons and chokecherries, and herbs and roots for medicine.
This way of life seems to be so idyllic to me. I’m sure there were hardships. The winters were brutal and the demand on the people to preserve enough to survive must have been tremendous. But these grass lands are magic. This lovely, rich land and great open skies are so welcoming here in the summer that if I had to go back in time I’d happily be Blackfoot in an Alberta summer.
These prairies are so beautiful and the wide skies are mesmerizing. The crickets are singing and asking me to stay a little longer. I gather up a small bundle of sage to take home. It’s strong medicine.