Today is the 20th annual National Aboriginal Day, a day for everyone in the country to recognize and honour the rich heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
In southwestern Alberta, the World Heritage Site Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (HSIBJ) embraces National Aboriginal Day as another opportunity to communicate its vibrant and unique heritage and storied past. There are a number of events taking place across the province to mark this special occasion, including special programming at HSIBJ. If you’re looking for an opportunity to learn more about Alberta’s Aboriginal history, this is it.
Celebrating National Aboriginal Day at HSIBJ on June 21
Experience the sound and beauty of drumming and dancing or listen to Blackfoot elders tell stories about the plains buffalo culture.
Take in a guided facility tours or a number of family-friendly activities traditional hand-game demonstrations, indigenous food sampling or try your hand at Atlatl spear throwing — an ancient hunting technique.
The Flying Buffalo Kite Festival
Let the celebrations continue on June 29 at the Flying Buffalo Kite Festival where visitors can watch beautiful hand-painted kites soar above the cliffs of HSIBJ between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. These unique buffalo-themed kites are made of canvases painted by some of the most beloved and talented First Nations artists in Canada and the United States. The large kites are flown by professional kite flyers with amazing skills and impressive gear.
Organized by SkyWindWorld, the Flying Buffalo Project is visiting numerous North American buffalo jump sites in its quest to highlight the historical importance of the buffalo, buffalo jumps and First Nations art.
Why Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump?
The grounds of HSIBJ are much more than a tourist destination — it’s sacred land. By visiting HSIBJ, visitors get a first-hand look at the cultural significance of this cliff to the Plains People. For nearly 6,000 years, Plains People travelled far and wide to use this specific jump for herding and hunting buffalo as a means of their survival
Inside the centre, Head-Smashed-In archaeologists weave a story of the hunt and culture of the Plains Peoples, and how this chapter of the lives of a dynamic and resourceful culture came to an end with the demise of the buffalo hunting culture. Re-enactments of hunt are shown in the exhibit theatre.
In 1981, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated HSIBJ as a World Heritage Site placing it among other world heritage monuments such as the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge and the Galapagos Islands.