Here's the conclusion of my little travelogue series --
Next, My Rare One and I went to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, which is located near Fort Macleod. Long before horses and guns were introduced to North America via European contact, buffalo jumps were how native peoples mass-harvested enough buffalo meat and hides to survive the harsh winters.
Disguising themselves as buffalo calves and menacing wolves, the First Nations hunters would induce a herd of buffalo to stampede off a high cliff. Not any old cliff would do, though. It had to have a nearby stream (for processing the kill afterwards) and face the right wind direction so the buffalo couldn't detect their hunters by smell. Archaeologists think that the Head-Smashed-In site was one of the best buffalo jumps in the Canadian west.
This is the actual buffalo jump site as it appears today -- the steep drop off the cliff has now filled in somewhat as the landscape slowly changed over its 5000 year use as a buffalo jump.
Head-Smashed-In overlooks the flat plains of the Old Man River basin. You can see a modern wind farm in the distance.
In the late 1800s, the greed and guns of white Canadians and Americans destroyed the huge buffalo herds of the plains in a few short years, devastating the native cultures which depended on the buffalo for survival. First Nations in the west are only now starting to recover. Today, their leaders say that "education is the new buffalo" to provide everything the people need.
Our final stop was to view the Frank Slide located in the Rocky Mountains' Crowsnest Pass. In 1903, the top peak of the mountain in the photo unexpectedly shifted, broke off and avalanched downwards in the middle of the night, wiping out part of the small mining town of Frank and killing 90 people. You can still clearly see the scars where it slid down the mountain.
The rocky debris field of the slide's huge "splash zone" (as it's called) is still a stunning sight. Believe me, these photos do not do it justice.
My Rare One and I both enjoy visiting the cultural heritage sites of our region. History is so fascinating because it shows the inventiveness, artistry and indomitable spirit of those who lived before us on this land.
[All photos © My Rare One, August 2014]