First Peoples Buffalo Jump - Ulm, MT
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member CerealBoxMonsters
N 47° 29.100 W 111° 31.530
12T E 460411 N 5259196
A visitor center and interpretive trails tell the story of this prehistoric bison kill site, one of the largest in the United States. Plan at least a two-hour stop at this day-use only state park.
Waymark Code: WM7BRY
Location: Montana, United States
Date Posted: 10/02/2009
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member fisnjack
Views: 6


The First People were migratory hunters and gatherers. Game was killed using spear points fashioned from obsidian (volcanic glass) or flint. By about 8,000 years ago, groups of hunters began to stalk bison using communal tactics. The windswept hunting ground located on a sandstone rimrock near the quite community of Ulm was one such place. It was refered to as "Pishkun," or translated loosely in Blackfoot as “deep blood kettle.”

Scouts were sent out to locate a bison herd. Then, over a period of time, the People would slowly "push" the herd closer towards the plateau that would mark the beginning of the drive. Lanes were created using both natural topography and by piling large rock cairns into a funnel that created a choke at the edge of the pishkun. The bison were stampeded across the Plains toward plateaus and into these drive lanes by hunters who ran behind shouting, waving hides, as well as with their dogs barking and chasing the beasts. As the panicked bison closed in together, the momentum of the herd would push those in front over the edge of the sandstone cliff. Many bison died in the fall, and those that survived were quickly dispatched by other hunters who had been staged at the base of the cliff.

Carcasses were butchered and feasts were held. Most of the flesh was dried and stored as jerky for the winter months. Wolves, coyotes, eagles and other wildlife cleaned up what was not taken by the First People.

Pishkuns, or "buffalo jumps," were used by Natives Peoples for thousands of years, yet the bison herds remained vast. At the time of European settlement in North America, more than 60,000 bison were believed to have roamed in vast herds over much of the landscape, especially the Great Plains.


Bison formed one of the practical and spiritual foundations of life for the First People; a tradition that continues today. The meat, hides, horns, and bones of these great animals sustained the hunters and their families for thousands of years. Bison were, and are still, part of the voice of the land.


Ulm Pishkun is one of the largest buffalo jumps ever found. It is now a state park, administered by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, that offers the opportunity to feel the ancient ways of land and life. Here, limestone, shale, and sandstone cliffs range from 15 to 30 feet high and extend for over one mile. "Major" and "minor" kill sites have been unearthed by archaeologists, and seven other kill sites can be seen from the Park's overlook.


Inside the visitor center’s lobby, visitors are welcomed by a full mounted bison bull, which they are invited to touch. The center’s main feature is an interpretive hall furnished with murals, models, and artifacts that tell of the bison and the people whose lives depended on the plains grazer.

Upon entering the exhibit, it’s springtime to the left and winter on the right. In all directions are bison, grazing. Ahead, where a cliff juts from the wall, visitors listen to recordings of Blackfoot reading from the book "The Buffalo Jump." A tipi, bison hides, and other displays provide a glimpse into what life here was like not that long ago.

Hiking the 1.5 mile (one-way) interpretive trail offers an intimate way to under-stand and observe the landscape and pishkun, but those less inclined to walk can reach the top by vehicle. A gravel road winds from the visitor center up past a lively 5-acre prairie dog town to near the cliff. A paved walk makes a short loop past several sweat lodge frames to a dirt path leading to the pishkun edge. There, visitors get a view of the sacred ground below, where bison were converted to food, clothing, and shelter.
Trailhead: N 47° 28.750 W 111° 31.450

Type: Ruins

How did you find this "Ancient Evidence": Other

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