Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a buffalo jump located where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains begin to rise from the prairie 18 km (11 mi) west of Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, on Highway 785. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of a museum of Blackfoot culture. Joe Crowshoe Sr. OC (1903–1999) – Aapohsoy’yiis (Weasel Tail) – a ceremonial Elder of the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta, was instrumental in the development of the site. The Joe Crow Shoe Sr. Lodge is dedicated to his memory. He dedicated his life to preserving Aboriginal culture and promoting the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and in 1998 was awarded the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for "saving the knowledge and practices of the Blackfoot people."
The buffalo jump was used for 5,500 years by the indigenous peoples of the plains to kill bison by driving them off the 11 metres (36 feet) high cliff. Before the late introduction of horses, the Blackfoot drove the bison from a grazing area in the Porcupine Hills about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) west of the site to the "drive lanes", lined by hundreds of cairns, by dressing up as coyotes and wolves. These specialized "buffalo runners" were young men trained in animal behavior to guide the bison into the drive lanes. Then, at full gallop, the bison would fall from the weight of the herd pressing behind them, breaking their legs and rendering them immobile. The cliff itself is about 300 metres (980 feet) long, and at its highest point drops 10 metres (33 feet) into the valley below. The site was in use at least 6,000 years ago, and the bone deposits are 12 metres (39 feet) deep. After falling off the cliff, the injured bison were finished off by other Blackfoot warriors at the cliff base armed with spears and clubs. The carcasses were then processed at a nearby camp. The camp at the foot of the cliffs provided the people with everything they needed to process a bison carcass, including fresh water. The bison carcass was used for a variety of purposes, from tools made from the bone, to the hide used to make dwellings and clothing. The importance of the site goes beyond just providing food and supplies. After a successful hunt, the wealth of food allowed the people to enjoy leisure time and pursue artistic and spiritual interests. This increased the cultural complexity of the society.