Buffalo Jump

Buffalo Jump

A buffalo jump is a cliff formation which North American Indians historically used in mass killings of plains bison. Hunters herded the bison and drove them over the cliff, breaking their legs and rendering them immobile. Tribe members waiting below closed in with spears and bows to finish the kills. The Blackfeet Indians called the buffalo jumps ‘pishkun,’ which loosely translates as ‘deep blood kettle.’

This type of hunting was a communal event which occurred as early as 12,000 years ago and lasted until at least 1500 CE, around the time of the introduction of horses. Buffalo jump sites are often identified by rock cairns, which were markers designating ‘drive lanes,’ by which bison would be funneled over the cliff. These drive lanes would often stretch for several miles.

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