Montana’s flourishing state park system contains what might be North America’s largest historic bison cliff-hunting site, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park. The National Historic Landmark honors the indigenous tribes whose sophisticated methods of buffalo hunting provided them with food and protection through the cold Montana winters, with other parts of the animal used for utensils, sewing and bowstrings.
This mass harvesting technique entailed skilled hunters that would herd groups of bison to a cliff’s edge on foot. Once they were driven off the cliff, they could be collected and transformed into countless resources that the tribes depended on.
While the park hasn’t seen this hunting method for hundreds of years, there are plenty of informational opportunities for adults and children on site. In addition to the educational visitors center, they feature exhibits, storytelling circles, a classroom, gallery and bookstore. Outdoor activities include hikes, picnic tables, an amphitheater and even a playing field where visitors can learn traditional games.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is located about 1.5 hours north of Helena, Montana. For more information, visit stateparks.mt.gov/first-peoples-buffalo-jump, or visit the park to take themed guided tours on Saturdays from mid-May through mid-June.