As I follow a Blackfoot guide along a trail leading to the ancient drive lanes where warriors ensured the survival of the tribe by sending herds of buffalo to their deaths, my mind leaps back across the millennia. I imagine soft deerskin moccasins on my feet. I can hear the thunder of stampeding bison and my heart skips a beat.
Alberta’s authentic Indigenous sites share the stories and culture of the peoples of North America's Great Plains. Be humbled by the beauty and wisdom of an ancient culture as you listen to stories of the elders, bead a moccasin, make bannock, watch Native dancers perform and feel the war drums echo in your chest.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest, largest and best preserved buffalo jumps in the world. Stand on the spot where the Plains Indians drove the bison over the cliffs onto the valley floor, some 18 m (59 ft) below, a ritual repeated for over 6,000 years. Feel the past come to life as stories of the hunt are told in dance and song. It’s a special treat to visit on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, or on days when live drumming and dancing is scheduled.
Blackfoot Crossing National Historic Site
Named for the underwater ridge spanning the Bow River that formed a natural crossing place, Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park celebrates thousands of years of Blackfoot culture. Take a guided tour of the exhibit hall or walk the grassland trails with a Siksika interpreter. Learn what sweetgrass and kinnikinnik berries were used for. Be sure to visit the gravesite of the famed Chief Crowfoot, legendary leader of the Blackfoot in the early 1800s.
Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park/ Áísínai'pi National Historic Site
A place sacred to the Plains Indians for thousands of years, the deep coulees of the Milk River valley provided natural protection from the weather and a safe haven for all First Nations who passed through here. An interpreter will guide you on protected land where you can contemplate the largest concentration of rock art – carved petroglyphs and painted pictographs – in North America. Book a spot in the park’s campground or try the comfort camping facilities with everything provided, then settle in around a campfire for an authentic account of Blackfoot culture and history.
Métis Crossing National Historic Site
Dance the Red River jig at Canada’s only interactive Métis historical village. Wander through the exhibits and speak with costumed interpreters. Walk the North Saskatchewan River valley with your guide and learn how farming, buffalo hunting and trading shaped the lives of the people who settled here. This unique site celebrates Métis culture and the contributions Métis people made to Alberta and Canada.