|Well, no Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump this morning. Cold and raining when we got up so we just unhooked and headed north. Did run out of the rain about half-way to Calgary. We drove west of Calgary towards the Canadian Rockies through some picturesque horse country. Very windy, though.
Lunch was at a pullout along the highway on the way to Banff. Once there, we finally found a place to park the RV and headed to the first of two museums on my list. The Banff Park Museum is Western Canada’s oldest natural history museum (1903) and a national historic site. Lots of birds, insects, fish and animal specimens. But I was most impressed with the building itself. Gorgeous woodworking. The lower floor still maintains original woods and varnishes.
The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum was filled with life-size scenes of traditional Plains Indians life.
We walked downtown Banff a while, dined at the Banff Brewing Company, tasted some pretty stout ale, then headed to our campground on Tunnel Mountain.
We’ve been seeing several other GAH motorhomes every day and at least one or two in each campground we stay. Today we hadn’t seen one since we left Fort Macleod but, sure enough, when we got to the campground tonight, there are a few.
Oh, I told you I’d tell you about Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Well, first, a buffalo jump: one of the ancient methods used by Northern Plains Indians for killing buffalo. A small band, separated from the main herd, is enticed towards a cliff then stampeded over the precipice. Those not killed by the fall are shot by the hunters below. Women remain out of sight until butchering begins. So, I thought the name of this one came from the buffalo smashing heads. Not so. According to one of the Blackfoot oral traditions, a young boy wanted to witness the plunge of countless buffalo as his people drove them over the sandstone cliff. Standing under the shelter of a ledge, he watched the great beasts fall past. The hunt was unusually good that day. As the bodies mounted, he became trapped between the animals and the cliff. When his people came to do the butchering, they found him with his skull crushed by the weight of the buffalo carcasses. This is why they named this jump Head-Smashed-In. I really wanted to visit this one but wasn’t up to walking the two miles in the rain and cold. Archaeological evidence confirms the jump was first used about 5700 years ago. The cliff was originally 20 meters high above the kill site, but after thousands of years, the buffalo bone deposits reached 10 meters deep. Now you only see 10 meters of the exposed cliff.