Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is an archaeological site located on the southern end of the Porcupine Hills in southwest Alberta. Beginning nearly 6000 years ago and continuing until the mid-19th century, Aboriginal People of the Northwest Plains used Head-Smashed-In as one of the many ingenious traps designed to kill large numbers of buffalo (see bison). They used skilful decoy techniques to round up herds of buffalo and stampeded them across the Porcupine Hills and over a 10 m-high cliff. Hunters waiting below the cliff killed and butchered the animals, obtaining great quantities of meat, hide and bone. Deposits of butchered bones and stone tools extend to a depth of over 11 m at the base of the cliff.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the richest archaeological sites on the North American plains. In recognition of this, UNESCO declared it a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1981.
Archaeological research suggests that this buffalo jump was used for nearly 6000 years. The jump is an enormous complex of archaeological resources, including a huge processing area on the prairie below the kill site and a vast area above the cliff where bison could be gathered. An ongoing research program is an important feature of the site, and during the summer, visitors can see an archaeological dig.
In 1987 an interpretive centre was opened adjacent to the jump. The centre features exhibits on the history and culture of the Peigan and other Plains peoples and displays of some of the thousands of artifacts recovered from the archaeological site. It is open to the public year round.