Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump


43 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-894004-83-3
DDC 971.23'4






Reviewed by Danial Duda

Danial Duda is an information services librarian in the Queen Elizabeth
II Library, Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Located on Highway 785, between Fort Macleod and the Crowsnest Pass,
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of Alberta’s more famous parks.
This book is a very good introduction to the history of the park (which
was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations in 1981) and
its importance to the Native peoples of Alberta.

The book is divided into three parts. Part 1, “The Buffalo and the
Native People,” provides an overview of Native lore, legend, and
history regarding the buffalo hunt. One method employed by many tribes
on the prairies/plains of North America, we learn, was to stampede a
herd of buffalo over a cliff. The buffalo would fall to their deaths and
then be butchered by those waiting below. The story of how
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump got its name is that so many buffalo were
killed during one particular hunt that a young hunter waiting below was
soon engulfed by a pile of dead animals. His body was found with his
“head smashed in.”

Part 2, “Unearthing the Past,” deals with the archeological history
of the area and how, from the 1930s to the present, the site became what
it is today. Part 3, “Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Today,” describes
what people see when they visit the interpretive centre and park.

Reid’s book, which is filled with photographs and illustrations, is
highly recommended for school and public libraries.


Reid, Gordon., “Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9953.