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Periodic Report on the Application of the
World Heritage Convention

Section II

Report on the State of Conservation of
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump


1a State Party
1b Name of World Heritage Site
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
1c Geographic Coordinates
Latitude 49°41'30" - 49°46'15" N / Longitude 113°38' - 113°47' W
1d Date of inscription
1e Date of subsequent extension(s)
Not applicable
1f Organization(s) responsible for the preparation of report
Organization Name: Province of Alberta
Name: Clarke, Ian
Title: Regional Manager/Southern Operations
Address: #2410, 810 - 6th Avenue SW
City: Calgary, AB
Postal Code: T2K 4S6
Telephone: 403-297-4043
Fax Number: 403-297-4093
1g Date of submittal of report
1h Signature(s) on behalf of State Party


2a Original justification for inscription
The original Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump nomination document states that it was only on the North American plains, with its vast bison herds with their distinctive behaviour patterns, that a sophisticated and highly reliable hunting system resulted in the generation of a stable food supply reflecting a degree of technological control over food production not normally imagined for hunting and gathering peoples. Through intimate knowledge of bison behaviour and their seasonal movements, the native peoples evolved complicated but effective means for systematically and repeatedly harvesting the herds. This communal hunting technique resulted in the development of sophisticated and complex social and technological systems for the communal hunt.

The nomadic hunters of the Northern Plains of North America relied on bison as their economic mainstay. In organizing their society to accommodate a structure necessary to operate the bison driving complex, they made fundamental commitments to cultural and social patterns, which were reflected in virtually every facet of their life.

Status, wealth, and political control was invested in those whose principal role was the organizing and regulating of the group's activity during the communal hunts. Spiritualism and ceremony deriving from the hunt are seen in the stone medicine wheels of the Northern Plains, some of which date back 5,500 years.

Throughout the regions of highest bison populations in the Northern Plains, communal hunting techniques of the past 10,000 years involved a variety of methods. The single most important of these archaeological site-types in North America with respect to the culture and history of the Native People of the Great Plains is the buffalo or bison jump. It played the central role in their annual life cycle, and conditioned to a very large degree the precise nature and extent of cultural and social development.

For the most part, the bison jumps were relatively small physical features used by limited numbers of people over short periods of time, but occasionally a particular location assumed a greater significance by virtue of its unusual size or specific morphological features such that it was used by many different groups of people over long periods of time. HSIBJ was just such a location, and it is clearly the most outstanding example of such a site surviving in all of the Americas. It is an exceptionally well-preserved site of its kind and is fully authentic in its setting.

The site was suggested for nomination under criteria iii and v in that it is believed to be a unique testimony to a cultural tradition that has disappeared; and to be an outstanding example of a traditional land-use that is representative of the plains culture now irreversibly changed. These dovetail perfectly with criterion vi under which the site is inscribed, but which, by Committee direction, should only be used in conjunction with other cultural criteria.

2b Criteria for initial inscription
Cultural Criteria:
Natural Criteria:

2c Agreed upon Statement of Significance
At the time of inscription, the World Heritage Committee did not agree upon a Statement of Significance.
Proposed Statement of Significance
The World Heritage Committee inscribed Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump on the World Heritage List under criterion C (vi).

The landscape at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is important for its historical, archaeological and scientific interest. The presence of so many undisturbed stratified layers of bone and cultural deposits at great depth is representative of 5,700 or more years of continuous occupation, interrupted by one period of non-use. The landscape is an outstanding example of the form of subsistence hunting that perpetuated the existence of the plains nations until the end of the "buffalo culture" in the mid nineteenth century. The long period of use, the evidence of complex social organization and interaction, and the quality of preservation make Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump of world significance as the best surviving example of bison hunting techniques and the way of life of the plains people during the time of the buffalo.

(Note: The Statement of Significance proposed here reflects the definitions and numbering of the criteria at the time the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List. Changes in the definitions and numbering of the criteria since that time will need to be taken into account when officially submitting a Statement of Significance to the World Heritage Committee for approval. Clarification by the Committee of the criteria under which the site was inscribed will also affect the Statement of Significance that is officially submitted.)

2d Criteria added after initial inscription
Since the initial inscription, the World Heritage Committee has not added additional criteria to the inscription.


3a Initial evaluation of authenticity/integrity
In its nomination of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Canada noted that the site complex components vary in their state of preservation. The kill site has been subjected to a variety of detrimental activities. In the late 1800s, a sandstone quarry and wagon road were opened at the cliff face. Approximately 45 linear metres were quarried, leaving 60 linear metres of rubble. Excavations in 1966 indicated the rubble overlies some of the kill deposit, actually protecting it from the effects of erosion and vandalism.

The major detrimental impact has been artifact-collecting activity at the centre section of the jump. While this has affected the latest period of use at the jump, equivalent deposits are well preserved under the quarry rubble and elsewhere along the cliff.

The total kill deposit is on the order of 457,200 cubic metres and less than 5 per cent has been lost to scientific and non-scientific excavations.

The campsite below the cliff has had few adverse impacts, as collectors have never recognized its potential. Despite road construction and other activities like stock watering ponds and archaeological excavations, preservation overall in the campsite is excellent.

The gathering basin's principal loss has been the removal of some of the natural prairie landscape by breaking and seeding to crops. These and other cultural features—roads, ranches, and farmsteads—occupy some 7.2 square kilometres of the basin's 36 square kilometre area.

The first scientific archaeological excavation ever conducted in Alberta was staged at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in 1938. Subsequently, additional excavations including the University of Calgary were conducted in 1965, 1966, and 1972.

In 1966, the primary landowner at the Buffalo Jump deeded a 5 hectares (12 acres) parcel, encompassing a prime section of the cliff and kill site, to the province of Alberta. In 1969 the deeded land was fenced to keep out cattle, vehicles, and looters, and signs were erected indicating the protected status of the area.

In 1968 the Government of Canada declared the entire jump complex a National Historic Site, and in 1979 it was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource by the Province of Alberta. Subsequent conservation/preservation programmes have included increased public education about the site value, a major study of the faunal material recovered during the excavations, compilation of the historical records, and establishment of a permanent provincial presence at the site, 890 hectares (2,200 acres) of which are now in Provincial hands and covered by protective provincial legislation.

In its evaluation of the nomination, ICOMOS observed that since 1960 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has been the object of systematic excavations, which have enriched the knowledge of pre-contact arms and tools, and transformed current theories on the use of game for food, clothing and shelter. Further, ICOMOS noted that by virtue of its sheer size and state of preservation Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump "broadly outdistances analogous sites" discovered in Europe and the United States.

3b Significant changes in authenticity/integrity
Since inscription, there have been significant changes in the authenticity/integrity of the site.
Description of changes in authenticity/integrity
Archaeologists have cleared all pathways, roadways and parking structures of any cultural materials where required. In most instances of pathway or roadway installation, capping was substituted for excavation so as to avoid the destruction of any archaeological features.

Surrounding lands were purchased to prevent inappropriate land use and unfortunate visual impacts on the quality of the views to and from the site. One hundred and sixty-two hectares (400 acres) were acquired in this first land purchase and that portion of the purchase not required for interpretive development and site preservation has been leased back to the original owners for fire suppression purposes through the grazing of livestock.

In 2000, the Province of Alberta included Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in a program intended to identify a wide range of culturally and naturally significant lands in order to afford them a level of protection through monitored use. Seven hundred and twenty-eight hectares (1,800 acres) around Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump were added to the original Provincial Historic Resource Designation (all of which was Crown Land) and together with the original 162 hectares (400 acres) the full 890 hectares (2,200 acres) acres were named to the "Special Places 2000" project. This designation also allows the provincial government to call for a review of all developmental activities within the area for the purpose of curtailing inappropriate and/or destructive use, although the historic resource designation remains the most powerful tool in controlling impact upon the site.

With these exceptions, the site remains as it was at the time of inscription in 1981.


Management Regime

4a Ownership/Management
Management under protective legislation
Management under contractual agreement(s) between State Party and a third party
Management under traditional protective measures
Description: (i) Management under protective legislation: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has been designated by the Province of Alberta as a Provincial Historic Resource under the provisions of the Alberta Historical Resources Act. The site may not be destroyed, disturbed, altered, restored, or repaired, no object may be removed, nor may its physical or aesthetic character be affected in any way without government permission. In 2000, the Province of Alberta included Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in a program intended to identify a wide range of naturally significant lands in order to afford them a level of protection through monitored use. (ii) Management under contractual agreement(s) between State Party and a third party: The grasslands of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump have been cared for under the rangeland management practices of the ranching families that inhabit the area. Grassland management of the provincially-owned land at the site is provided through the contractual obligations of renewable leases with the original owners. This provides a significant fire suppression method in an area where prairie fires are common. (iii) Management under traditional protective measures: Other than controlled grazing which parallels the ancient bison migrations no specific "traditional" methods of protection have been invoked. There is at the same time, a continuing formal involvement of the regional First Nations people in the strategic management of the site.

4b Level of authority

Description: The property is owned and managed by the Government of the Province of Alberta.

4c Legal status
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is both a Provincial Historic Resource, affording it the highest level of protection allowed under the Alberta Historical Resources Act, and a Provincial Historic Site whereby a core of the land base has been purchased by the Province and is operated and actively promoted as a place where visitors are welcome to pay admission for an advanced interpretive experience on site and inside a 2,700 square metre Visitor Centre.

4d Agency/agencies with management authority
Agency Name: Alberta Community Development
Name: Whalley, Catherine
Address: 8820 - 112 Street
City: Edmonton, Alberta
Postal Code: T6G 2P8
Telephone: 780 431-2306
Fax Number: 780 427-5598

4e Protective measures and means of implementing them
Alberta Historical Resources Act: This legislation governs designation of the site as a Provincial Historic Resource and provides for severe penalties for any action that has an adverse physical or visual effect upon the resources associated with the reasons for designation. Under Section 18 (9) of the Act "no person shall: (a) destroy, disturb, alter, restore, repair any historic resource or land that has been designated under this section; or (b) remove an historic object from an historic resource that has been designated under this section without the written approval of the Minister. No person may alter or affect the physical or aesthetic character of such an historical resource in any way without the expressed permission of the Minister. Under Section 38 (1), every person who contravenes any provision of this act … is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not more than $50 000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or to both fine and imprisonment." The act also commissions the Minister responsible for its administration to present the site to the public, which in the case of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump ranges through local, regional, provincial, national, and international audiences.

Regulations governing the administration of archaeological resources in the Province of Alberta: A set of regulations governing archaeological investigations in the Province of Alberta also applies to all the land connected to the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump complex whether it is designated or not. These regulations are attached to the Historical Resources Act as "Archaeological Research Permit Regulation, being Alberta Regulation 124/79 with amendments up to and including Alberta Regulation 88/82."

Special Places 2000: The Special Places 2000 program was established by Provincial legislation to preserve the environmental diversity of the province's six natural regions and twenty sub-regions. In 2000, the Province of Alberta included Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in this program in order afford it another level of protection through monitored use. Seven hundred and twenty-eight hectares (1,800 acres) around Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump were added to the original Provincial Historic Resource Designation (all of which was Crown Land) and together with the original 162 hectares (400 acres) the full 890 hectares (2,200 acres) were named to the "Special Places 2000" project as rough fescue grassland. This designation allows the provincial government to call for a review of all developmental activities within the area for the purpose of curtailing inappropriate and/or destructive use.

The Municipal Government Act: This legislation allows the establishment of Direct Control Zoning that can consider heritage conservation in land use planning. Applications for development or land-use change on the designated site are referred to the rovince for review by the local municipal district. The approval of the Minister of Community Development is required for any such application to succeed the designated lands. Approval is recommended only for developments or land use changes that are of no effect or are of beneficial effect, as in the case of restrictive Direct Control Zoning.

4f Administrative and management arrangements
The core designated area is owned by the Province of Alberta and managed as an historic site through the Cultural Facilities and Historical Resources Division of the Community Development ministry. The line of authority runs through the following positions:

.Site Manager
.Manager, Southern Operations
.Director, Historic Sites and Cultural Facilities Branch
.Assistant Deputy Minister, Cultural Facilities and Historical Resources Division
.Deputy Minister, Alberta Community Development (the Ministry).

A number of other organizations, non-government agencies, individuals and government bodies are directly involved in the management process through the invitation of the Province. This is achieved mainly through the presence of a Minister's Advisory Committee operating under Ministerial Order; and with the Friends of Head-Smashed-In Society whose relationahip with the site is controlled by a detailed operating contract.

The Minister's Advisory Committee comprises the primary regional stakeholders and is called upon by its mandate to advise the Minister of Community Development on all matters of regional concern that are of direct interest to the site and its associated resources. Membership includes representation from the Kainai (Blood) First Nation, the Piikani (Peigan) First Nation, the towns of Claresholm, Fort Macleod, and Pincher Creek, the Municipal District of Willow Creek, two local land owners, and three "members-at-large." This committee is slated to meet quarterly with site and regional management and to report its deliberations and recommendations directly to the Minister for action.

The Friends Society also has a prescribed Board membership, requiring participation from the two First Nations tribes and the three towns in addition to members-at-large, but it is tasked to operate locally for the purpose of assisting with and enhancing the interpretive responsibilities of site operation.

The preservation and interpretation of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has become a focal point for the retrieval of native culture in the region. The management and development of the site has become a partnership between the Blackfoot-speaking people and the Province of Alberta, and Blackfoot-speaking employees are engaged exclusively to interpret the site and their culture.

4g Significant changes in management regime since inscription
Since inscription, the core of the site at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump has been acquired by the Provincial Government and is now Crown Land in the Right of Alberta (see 3b1). In 1999, 728 hectares (1,800 acres) were added to the original designation of 162 hectares (400 acres), placing 890 hectares (2,200 acres) of land under provincial jurisdiction and the provisions of both the Historical Resources Act and the Special Places 2000 program. This is the area of most significant cultural resources and it includes the principal and secondary kill sites along the cliff edge including the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump site. This is also the area of intensive historical interpretation and the area where control is established through a continual daily presence of government staff. The management process for the site is outlined in the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretation Program, the provincial regulations for archaeology, and the Alberta Infrastructure Maintenance Procedures for the site. These are the only changes in the management regime at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump since the time of inscription.

4h Management plan
There is no management plan in place for the site.
Preparation of management plan in the future
A new management plan to replace the management components of the Development Plan is not envisaged for the site inasmuch as the Interpretation Program, the Alberta Historical Resources Act, the province's archaeological regulations, the guidelines for Special Places 2000 and the site operations and maintenance schedules have been sufficient to provide the basic content of a management plan without having drawn it together in a consolidated document.

Financial Resources

4i Annual operating budget
C $ 1 000 000

Staffing Levels (Human Resources)

4j Staffing levels
Full time: 10
Part time: 2
Seasonal: 17
Other: 0
Site Manager: Extensive experience in the management of culture-based facilities including museums and interpretive centres.

Head of Interpretation: Extensive experience in interpretive and/or teaching instruction and program development, with an equal knowledge of plains native history and the Blackfoot language.

Senior Interpreter, Education Programs: Knowledge of curricula-based programmes in the Alberta educational system and a working knowledge of similar programmes in the rest of Canada and the northern United States. Working knowledge of the thematic areas represented by the Interpretive Centre, and how they dovetail with provincial curricula patterns and curricula from other jurisdictions. Ability to work with teachers in the development of site programs tailored to the learning patterns and needs of a variety of students at all age levels from kindergarten to post secondary institutions.

Senior Interpreter, Cultural Programs: Thorough familiarity with North American First Nations history and the buffalo culture of the western plains, including the native oral tradition, ethnography, and archaeology, and an intimate knowledge of the Blackfoot speaking people. Must also have experience in staff supervision.

Interpreter: Working knowledge of the buffalo culture and the hunt, and the role that Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump played throughout its time of use in forming a pivotal role in the establishment and perpetuation of that culture.

Booking Officer and Special Events Coordinator: Knowledge of marketing processes, the travel/tourism industry, and current data on regional First Nations talent, all within the context of Blackfoot and other First Nations' culture and spirituality.

Financial Officer and Head Cashier: Knowledge of current bookkeeping, accounting and cash-handling procedures, and statistical collection and reporting.

Administrative Services/Office Administrator
Friends Society Executive Director

Sources of expertise and training in conservation and management techniques

4k Sources of specialized expertise, training and services
Province of Alberta, Ministry of Community Development: Conservation services, archaeology, history, lease and land management services, and creative services (graphic design, display design, planning, and fabrication supporting the technical aspects of interpretation) are all available through headquarters staff of Alberta Community Development's Cultural Facilities and Historical Resources Division, located in the provincial capital (Edmonton).

The Canadian Conservation Institute, the Canadian Museums Association, and the Parks Canada Agency, all headquartered in the nation's capital (Ottawa) are available to the site for consultation.


4l Visitor statistics available
Visitor statistics are available for the site.
Annual visitation, methodology and trends
79,000 visitors came to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump during fiscal year 2002-2003. This is one of a series of declining counts at the site as the trend has been downward for the past few years at all sites in the province and beyond. This is in part explained by the visitor trends overall in North America.

Visitor counts are achieved through the admission process (paid or otherwise) and visitor numbers are analyzed in demographic terms and according to the type of visit. Additional detailed analysis is performed through sample polling conducted during each summer season (May through August) when visitor trends, attitudes and economics are assessed through implementation of a formal visitor survey.

4m Visitor facilities
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is located 16 kilometres from two major provincial highways with north-south and east-west orientation, along a hard surfaced secondary road. Camping, recreational vehicle, and hotel/motel accommodations are readily available as are numerous touring opportunities to other natural and cultural sites. Small aircraft can use local airport facilities while international flights land in Calgary, two hours north of the site. Grocery as well as restaurant food services are available in the three towns that flank the site (Claresholm, Fort Macleod, and Pincher Creek).

All visitor amenities are directly available at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Visitor Centre, including washrooms, food and gift services, interpretive and educational programming, site literature, hiking and walking trails, and parking and transportation services.

4n Tourism/visitor management plan
There is a tourism/visitor management plan in place for the site.
Summary of tourism/visitor management plan
The tourism/visitor management plan is contained in the "Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretation Program," devised to control the entire interpretive development of the site in relation to anticipated visitor attendance. Visitor access is controlled through road access and parking structures. Distant parking requirements are mitigated by the use of shuttle bus service. On-site access is controlled through the mandatory pathway system and the presence of seasonal guides.

Interpretive talks, the use of artifacts and reproductions, models, graphic panels, sound-scapes and film presentations are all used to convey the site messages regarding the regional geography, the native presence including native culture and traditions, native technology, social organization, and the spirituality of the buffalo culture, the anatomy of the buffalo jump, the impact of European contact, and the science of archaeology. Target audiences include native Albertans, Canadian and international travellers, school children and youth groups, and special interest touring groups.

Scientific studies

4o Key scientific studies and research programs
Bailey, A. W.
1984 Ecology of Vegetation at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Unpublished manuscript on file, Archaeological Survey, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton.

Bird, J.
1939 Artifacts in Canadian River Terraces. Science 89(2311):340-341.

Brink, J.
1986 Buffalo Jump. Horizon Canada 89:2120-2125.
1990 Bison Butchering and Food Processing at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Paper presented at the 48th Annual Plains Anthropological Conference, Oklahoma City.
1992 Blackfoot and Buffalo Jumps: Native People and the Head-Smashed-In Project. In Buffalo, J. Foster, D. Harrison and I. S. MacLaren, eds. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, pp. 19-43.

Brink, J., and B. Dawe
1989 Final Report of the 1985 and 1986 Field Season at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Archaeological Survey of Alberta Manuscript Series No. 16. Archaeological Survey of Alberta, Edmonton.

Brink, J.W., and M. Rollans
1990 Thoughts on the Structure and Function of Drive Lane Systems at Communal Buffalo Jumps. In Hunters of the Recent Past, edited by L.B. Davis and B.O.K. Reeves, pp. 152-167. London: Unwin Hyman.

Brink, J., M. Wright, B. Dawe, and D. Glaum
1985 Final Report of the 1983 Season at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Archaeological Survey of Alberta Manuscript Series No. 1. Archaeological Survey of Alberta, Edmonton.
1986 Final Report of the 1984 Season at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Archaeological Survey of Alberta Manuscript Series No. 9. Archaeological Survey of Alberta, Edmonton.

Blundell, V.
1994 Riding the Polar Bear Express: and Other Encounters Between Tourists and First Peoples in Canada. Manuscript in possession of the author.

Cannon, D.
1990 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre: A Case Study in Developing Cultural Tourism in the Context of Cultural Conservation. Paper presented at the Geography of Tourism Seminar, Department of Geography, University of Toronto.

Cannon, D., and A. Cannon
1996 Archaeology's Public: A Perspective from Two Canadian Museums. Canadian Journal of Archaeology 20:29-38.

Catto, N., P. Bobrowski, and P. Waters
1983 Regional Surficial Geology and Quaternary Geologic History of the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump site. Unpublished manuscript on file, Archaeological Survey, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton.

Darragh, I.
1987 The Killing Cliffs. Canadian Geographic Oct./Nov:55-61.

Dawson, G. M.
1885 Report on the Region of the Vicinity of the Bow and Belly River, Northwest Territory. Geological and Natural History Survey of Canada, Report of Progress 1882-1883-1884:1c-169c, Ottawa.

Fagan, B.
1994 Bison Hunters of the Northern Plains. Archaeology Magazine, May/June:37-41.

Fidler, P.
1792/93 Journal of a Journey Overland from Buckingham House to the Rocky Mountains in 1792 and 1793. Unpublished transcript of original journal on file Provincial Archives, Edmonton.

Forbis, R. G.
1962 The Old Woman's Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Contributions to Anthropology 1960, Part 1, pp. 57-123. National Museum of Canada Bulletin 180, Ottawa.

Hills. L. V.
1983 Palaeoenvironmental Studies at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Unpublished manuscript on file, Archaeological Survey, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton.

Hughes, C. C.
1986 DkPj-21: A Description and Discussion of a Vision Quest Site in the Porcupine Hills, Alberta. In Final Report of the 1984 Season at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta, by J. Brink, M. Wright, B. Dawe, and D. Glaum. Archaeological Survey of Alberta Manuscript Series No. 9. Archaeological Survey of Alberta, Edmonton, pp. 364-403.

Johns, B.
1988 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre, Alberta. The Canadian Architect, November: 18:29.

Johns, B., and R. H. Le Blond
1989 "Designing" an Archaeological Dig. The Construction Specifier 42(10):106-115.

Kooyman, B., M. E. Newman, and H. Ceri
1992 Verifying the Reliability of Blood Residue Analysis on Archaeological tools. Journal of Archaeological Science 19:265-269.

Newman, M. E., H. Ceri and B. Kooyman
1996 The Use of Immunological Techniques in the Analysis of Archaeological Materials—a Response to Eisele; with Report of Studies at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Antiquity 70:677-682.

Newton, Barry M.
1983 Review of Archaeological Literature Pertaining to Bison Kill Sites. Unpublished manuscript on file, Archaeological Survey, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton.

Pringle, H.
1988 Boneyard Enigma. Equinox, March/April:87-103.
1996 Killing Fields: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. In Search of Ancient North America, by Heather Pringle. New York: John Wiley and Sons, pp. 149-167.

Reeves, B. O. K.
1978 Head-Smashed-In: 5500 Years of Bison Jumping in the Alberta Plains. In Bison Procurement and Utilization: A Symposium, edited by L. B. Davis and M. Wilson, pp. 151-174. Plains Anthropologist Memoir 14.
1983 Six Millenniums of Buffalo Kills. Scientific American 249(4):120-135.
1985 The Head-Smashed-In Drive Lane/Kill Complex. Unpublished manuscript on file, Archaeological Survey, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton.

Rollans, M.
1987 Interpreting the Function of Bison Drive Lanes at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta. Unpublished Master's thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta, Edmonton.

Smith, S., and R. Cole-Will
1984 A Compilation of Sources on Pit Features in Northern Plains Occupations. Unpublished manuscript on file, Archaeological Survey, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton.

Sponholz, E.
1992 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump: A Centre for Cultural Preservation and Understanding. In Buffalo, J. Foster, D. Harrison and I. S. MacLaren, eds. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, pp. 45-59.

Thomas, D. H.
2000 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. In Exploring Native North America, by D. H. Thomas. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 52-61.

Verbicky-Todd, E.
1984 Communal Buffalo Hunting Among the Plains Indians. Archaeological Survey of Alberta, Occasional Paper No. 24, Edmonton.

Wettlaufer, B.
n.d. Manuscript and Field Notes of 1949 archaeological survey and excavations at the Maclean site (Head-Smashed-In). Unpublished manuscript on file, Archaeological Survey, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton.
Use of results of scientific studies and research programs
The changes in the authenticity/integrity of the site since inscription relate to the construction of the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre and the site infrastructure that supports it, reviewed by the World Heritage authority, and the archaeological investigations at the site between 1981 and 1995. Site development included an underground structure housing the administration, displays, and building systems. Above ground elements are dressed in sandstone-coloured concrete. The 2,700 square metre building is built into sterile ground along the cliffside and supports year-round daily operations. It provides visitor control for 75,000 to 100,000 people annually.

The studies conducted at the site up to the point of inscription and those subsequently produced by the research programme of the Archaeological Survey of Alberta have been used to identify the critical area of significant cultural resources pertaining to the buffalo hunting epochs at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This information guided the land acquisitions programme and was used to inform the subsequent interpretive development at the site including the installation of display elements in the visitor centre and the construction of all ancillary features, including the interpretive paths and the access structures.

As Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump attracted more attention, and particularly with its designation as a World Heritage Site, it was felt that intrusions on the site might increase and that the best form of protection would take the form of an institutional presence. It was decided to install provincial staff at a year-round interpretive facility in the vicinty of the crucial resources. Care was taken to inform UNESCO of this decision and of the design programme for the structure. It was discovered that a nearby "slump block" at the cliff edge was virtually sterile of cultural material. This became the building site and the building programme ultimately required that no more than twenty per cent of the building could be exposed above ground level. Parking lots were installed well away from the site to avoid both physical and visual impact on the main site (visitors are shuttled in buses from their vehicles to the interpretive centre and back).

Role of WHS designation in design of scientific studies and research programs
Earlier studies and some of the concurrent work informed the nomination for World Heritage status. Subsequent studies concentrated on the recognized World Heritage values of the property particularly as they informed the interpretive development of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump which was directly influenced by the UNESCO designation in 1981.

Education, Information and Awareness Building

4p WHS plaque
There is a plaque at the site indicating that it is a World Heritage Site.

4q Use of WHC logo
The World Heritage Convention logo is used on all publications for the site.

4r Educational programs for schools
There are educational programs about the site's World Heritage values aimed at schools.
Description of educational programs for schools
Educational programming is one of the primary functions undertaken through the site operation at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. All educational programmes are conducted by guide staff and follow curriculum guides for Alberta schools from the Ministry of Learning. Between 2,000 and 4,000 school children from Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana (USA) attend these programs each year. They include: "Buffalo Tales" for ages 4-6; "Living Long Ago" for ages 6-8; "Living Off the Land" for ages 9-11; "History Underground" for ages 10-14; "Social Organization" for ages 12-14; "Sticks and Stones, Fun with Ancient Technology" for all ages; and the basic "Facility Tour" for all ages. A portable education programme kit called "Contrasts" is available for schools to use off-site.

4s Special events and exhibitions
There are special events and exhibitions concerning the site's World Heritage values.
Description of special events and exhibitions
The annual celebration of World Indigenous Peoples Day every August 9th is a special occasion to commemorate the attribution of World Heritage values to the site and the recently opened UNESCO Elders' Gallery has allowed the site to highlight the World Heritage Convention connection with special reference to the role of indigenous people at the site and within the local society.

4t Facilities, visitor centre, site museum, trails, guides, information materials
The principal visitor facility is the 2,700 square meter Interpretive Centre, which includes an elevator and stairway system to take the visitor from the bottom to the top of the cliffside and back again. From the Visitor Centre, interpretive trails lead to the main kill sites at both the top and the bottom of the cliff. The lower trail also takes the visitor across the processing camp on the flats below the cliff. A paved parking area and a gravel surface overflow parking area accommodate most vehicles except during uncommonly busy days when visitors tend to park along the secondary highway.

Inside the Interpretive Centre there are two separate banks of washroom facilities (male and female) as well as separate staff facilities. A cafeteria and gift shop are also available as are first aid facilities and an infirmary. The building and its amenities are handicapped accessible as are most of the trails with the exception of some of the lower trail that has proven difficult to maintain. Guided tours with First Nations guides are available for pre-booked groups and when possible, for the casual visitor. Three separate film experiences are present in the interpretive experience and the main film is shown in an eighty-seat, wide-screen theatre. Pamphlets, booklets, illustrated books, and monographs are available. Some are given with the price of admission while others are available for an additional charge.

Along the cliff edge, a hard-surface interpretive walkway has been constructed leading from the top of the Interpretive Centre to an overlook constructed to view the last slope of the drive lanes, the cliffs of the two main kill sites, the kill floor, the butchering/processing camp, and the magnificent views of the open prairie and the ravines leading towards the wintering grounds in the Oldman River Valley. As in all other instances of construction around Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump with the exception of the excavation for the Interpretive Centre, the approach has been to cap or build on top of the landforms rather than to excavate. This includes the trails and the parking areas.

Beneath the cliffs at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, soft-surface lower trails have been constructed to lead visitors along the cliff bottom to the main kill site and the scene of numerous archaeological excavations, and then back, past the site of the main processing camps. In the first six years of operation, archaeological excavations formed an interesting part of the visitor's interpretive experience; but the backlog of uncatalogued or unassessed data and materials caused a cessation of the archaeological programme.

4u Role of WHS designation in education, information and awareness building activities
The World Heritage logo is used extensively throughout the Visitor Centre, on all literature that the centre distributes, and on all promotional and marketing materials including advertisements and billboards. The honour and the implications of World Heritage Site designation form a part of each educational programme and figure prominently in all interpretive delivery by permanent and seasonal guide staff.


5a Development Pressures
With the designation of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump as a Provincial Historic Resource in 1979 and its inclusion in a larger designation of regulated lands in the Special Places 2000 project, development pressures on the site have been minimized. One directional petroleum drilling incident in the early 1980s that placed an oil rig atop the escarpment has not been repeated. At the same time, plans of the Province's major electrical distributer to run a 500 KVA tower line across the sight planes at HSIBJ were successfully opposed and the right-of-way was re-routed. In this regard, controls against visual impacts on the site have been added to the controls against physical impacts.

Commercial development in the region of the site has been confined to the establishment of a single recreational vehicle camp site located approximately 6 kilometers east of the cliffs just off the major access route. It is visually innocuous both en route and from the view planes of the site itself. No other commercial development in the vicinity is contemplated.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump sits beside the Piikanni First Nation Reserve, and in the heart of ranching country. The majority of the land within the immediate area of the drive lanes, kill site and butchering camps is owned or leased-back to two ranchers who use the land for grazing purposes only.

Remaining development pressures relate directly to the presence of the interpretive complex, the purpose of which is to control and inform the throngs of visitors to the site, and to provide a secure presence against vandalism and pot-hunting that has all but ceased since the province instituted a formal interpretive program at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in the mid 1980s. After the completion of the interpretive infrastructure in 1987, no further construction work has been permitted at the site beyond the ordinary and capital maintenance of the original development. Pressures for the establishment of a bison paddock beneath the kill site for the benefit of the visitors have not led to any action due to costs and operational complexities.

Provincial Historic Resource designation, close cooperation with the Municipal District, and use of regionally-oriented consultation mechanisms are in place to protect the site against all such incursions. The occurrence of inappropriate development on lands beyond the 728 hectares (1,800 acres) designated area would be met with applications to the Municipal District for Direct Control Zoning in favour of the historical resources.

While there had been some fear that the appearance of more than 100,000 visitors per year would draw attempts at commercial development, only a single recreational vehicle campground has been established and its presence is essentially innocuous. No other development pressure has been experienced nor is any contemplated in the near future.

5b Environmental Pressures
The climate and geomorphology of the region produce relatively constant and often high velocity prevailing westerly winds. This results in a fairly high rate of aeolian deposits which have led to the covering of the site in fine layers of silt over many years. The climate is also arid, but can be punctuated with events of high rainfall. On one hand, this can lead to the thinning of the prairie vegetation and an increase of wind erosion; on the other, rainy periods can contribute to the downhill erosion of deposits in the first few centimeters of soil. In both cases, the impact on archaeological deposits remains fairly minimal. In all cases, cultural materials that surface periodically are reviewed by the Archaeological Survey.

Drainage difficulties created around the sunken Visitor Centre have been addressed by regrading the ground near the walls to allow a more natural run-off pattern to protect both the land and the building.

The erosion of the pathways has increased with use over time and with the extreme weather patterns seen over the past decade. The first in a series of repairs to increase site safety and prevent further erosion took place in a pathway reconstruction project in early 2004. The success of this action will be monitored. Pathway systems along the vital lower trails will be repaired and resurfaced with the intent of preventing further erosion of land under stress, either by wind or water.

5c Natural Disasters and Preparedness
Slumping: The cliffs at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump have been known to spall or slump at least twice through the known eras of geologic and human history. It is the natural history of the site. One block in particular, hovering over the main kill site (Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump itself) seems most ready to be the next to fall inasmuch as it has separated from the main cliff. Geological review of the feature indicates that it is not yet imminent from a human perspective but that it will fall within geological time. No plans have been or are likely to be made to clear the site below this feature or to attempt to stabilize the structure through mechanical means or earthwork.

Gross fluctuations in water table levels with wet and dry climatic cycles: The natural history of the site has been punctuated with alternating wet and dry cycles. Meanwhile, periodic weather patterns may interrupt these cycles briefly but with dramatic consequences, the most profound of which is the raising and lowering of the water table, affecting subterranean flow patterns and the presence of surface and subterranean springs. These factors are of minimal consequence to the cultural history resources at the site except for the erosional power of the downhill flows of rainwater when it falls in quantities too great for the ground to absorb. In these cases water erosion near the kill sites will expose and often move small cultural artifacts like projectile points and lithic flakes.

Site managers have regraded the land near the building and resurfaced the critical pathways along the lower trails to address possible impacts. Some extraordinary climate manifestations (drought and heavy rain cycles) have had some impact on the land but this is not considered serious enough to take action to shield the site from these effects.

5d Visitor/Tourism Pressures
It was primarily the concern about pressure of increasing visitor numbers as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump became more widely known that led to the construction of visitor facilities in the form of an underground Interpretive Centre complete with washrooms, giftshop, and cafeteria. The centre is the prime method of visitor control, serving as the focal point of visitor experience at the site, controlling access to the cliff top, ensuring the proper handling of auto traffic, and minimizing impacts on the flora and fauna as well as the archaeological deposits by maintaining strict adherence to the use of the trail system, built on alignments properly cleared through archaeological monitoring. It is asked that visitors not remove any of the exposed artifacts. Casual collecting is discouraged across Alberta. Because of the legal designation of this site, even casual collecting is strictly prohibited. At Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump the original prohibition against any collection, casual or otherwise, remains in effect. Visitors are amply warned of this policy in the site literature, on interpretive signs, and through verbal communications.

Over the past 8 years (1986 to 1993 inclusive), visitor numbers have declined and this is a trend that is consistent throughout North America.

5e Number of inhabitants within property, buffer zone
While there is extensive cattle-grazing in the region of the jump, and the government leases adjacent grazing land if for no other reason than that of fire suppression and fuel reduction, the population within the area remains minimal (two primary families). Their activities in the past have included ranch buildings, fence lines, dugouts, and vehicle paths, with some crop seeding primarily for feed. No changes in these activities have been noted in the site area nor has there been any further settlement of the lands since the year of inscription.

Leases have been established to allow controlled grazing on the crown lands; site designations by the province have brought the core 890 hectares (2200 acres) under stringent control; and cooperation has been fostered with the ranchers and the local Municipal District to guard against inappropriate development.

The impact of the activities of local inhabitants has remained static since the time of inscription.

5f Other
None perceived.


Administrative arrangements for monitoring property

6a Formal monitoring program
There is a formal monitoring program established for the site.
Description of formal monitoring program
The Archaeological Survey of Alberta is responsible for reviewing all development plans at the site and for annual visits to the site to determine whether any natural events (heavy rains or high winds) have had any impact upon the shallow features at the site. Similarly, because part of the site falls under a lease-back arrangement with the original owners for grazing purposes (rangeland management and fire supression), representatives of the Archaeological Survey also assess whether damage has been caused by the cattle. Grazing patterns are reviewed to ensure that animals neither overgraze the vegetation nor physically alter the surface to such an extent as to disturb subsurface cultural deposits.

Given that physical alteration or intrusion on the designated property as a key indicator is under the strictest form of control available, the remaining key indicators are land erosion (wind, rain, freeze/thaw, grazing), and visual impacts of distant but visible commercial or agricultural development.

Key indicators for measuring state of conservation

6b Agreed upon key indicators
No key indicators for measuring the state of conservation of the site's World Heritage values have been agreed upon.
Future development of key indicators
The Province of Alberta is not intending to develop key indicators for the World Heritage values of the site.

Alberta believes that the condition of the site at the time of its designation as a Provincial Historic Resource provides a base line for monitoring the state of conservation. At every juncture, physical activity on the site, in the form of interpretive facilities or visitor amenities, has been closely scrutinized for the disturbance of any cultural features. These have been recorded, preserved, and in some instances, analysed and reported upon. Avoidance and capping have been used extensively as a method of preserving the integrity of the site.

The extent of physical activity has been limited to the approved 1985 development plan for the interpretive facility that opened in the early summer of 1987. No footprints within this development have been allowed to expand and maintenance and capital development plans are reviewed in detail to ensure this remains static.

Results of previous reporting exercises

6c State Party actions in response to World Heritage Committee recommendations
Not applicable


World Heritage Values

7a Main conclusions regarding the state of the property's World Heritage Values
The World Heritage values of the property have remained virtually intact since the date of inscription. The sole changes at the site revolve around the sensitive development of interpretive facilities, including an underground Visitor Interpretive Centre, upper and lower trails, and parking areas off-site but nearby. A paved roadway capping the ground and subsurface resources leads from the main parking area to the Visitor Centre which carries visitors by means of stairs or elevators from the base of the cliffs to the cliff top. Only twenty per cent of this seven-storey building is visible at or above ground. The visible percentage of the structure is built of sandstone-coloured concrete so as to blend sympathetically with the surrounding sandstone strata and the prairie hillside vegetation. Visually, the paved road and the concrete plaza in front of the building, and the concrete upper trail sidewalk are the most intrusive features at the site, but they have been designed for the most part to protect the cultural materials that may lie beneath.

The land base itself including the gathering basin, the drive lanes, various kill sites, and the camp site areas remain virtually unchanged since the time of inscription. They are agricultural lands devoted to grazing by various strains of cattle, now including bison herds. This is a traditional form of rangeland management which can been traced to the natural course of the ancient bison herds themselves.

Management and factors affecting site

7b Main conclusions regarding the management of and factors affecting the property
Almost 890 hectares (2,200 acres) of provincially-owned land have been set aside to protect the World Heritage Site. They also carry the National Historic Site designation (Canada) and are legally protected as a Provincial Historic Resource (Alberta). The combined lands have been also designated by the province as part of the Special Places 2000 initiative which identifies and monitors special heritage lands. The provincial designation carries the weight of punitive legislation in the case of activity that affects the physical and aesthetic qualities of the landscape and the historical resources it contains. Special Places 2000 adds an extra layer of monitoring of land use that would adversely affect the environmental quality of the rough fescue grassland. Municipal planning has zoned most of the land "rural agricultural," imposing further restrictions on inappropriate use and the possibility of Direct Control Zoning adds a final layer of legislative or regulatory protection.

The grasslands of the buffalo jump complex are under rangeland management regimes including leases of the Crown land at the jumpsite itself, which has offered a significant level of fire suppression through the grazing of land that has been grazed since time immemorial.

The site and the Visitor Centre are managed by the Province of Alberta under a system of formal consultation with the nearby First Nations people, the regional towns and the rural municipality. The experience of the past twenty-two years under this regime has been the effective and efficient control of detrimental impacts, human or natural, on the cultural resources and the landscape.

Proposed Future Action(s)

7c Approved future actions
The areas that are contemplated for improvement or the institution of more formal measures than currently exist are staffing arrangements, staff training, recapitalization and/or modification of visitor facilities, and the emergency response plan.

The filling of vacant positions and the use of personal service contracts through the Friends Society will improve staffing at Head-Smashed-In. Further, the education and interpretation functions are being formally combined, while an interpreter of scientific subject matter is being engaged.

Provision of training: changes include an added emphasis on training in the sciences (geology, archaeology) and their addition to the interpretive program at the site.

Recapitalization and modification of visitor facilities: New galleries highlighting both the role of elders in native society and the significant natural history of the region are either open or planned for implementation. Modifications are being made to the path systems to improve access. A revamped lighting system will improve visitor appreciation of site interpretation, and the handicapped access has recently been brought up to the provincial standard.

Emergency preparedness: Emergency preparedness plans will be consolidated and formalized within the year.

Responsible Implementing Agency(ies)

7d Agency(ies) responsible for implementing actions
Agency Name: Alberta Community Development
Name: Whalley, Catherine
Address: Historic Sites and Cultural Facilities, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 St
City: Edmonton, AB
Postal Code: T6G 2P8
Telephone: 403-431-2306
Fax Number: 403-427-5598

Timeframe for Implementation

7e Timeline for implementation of actions
Staffing arrangements are adjusted every year as needs arise and as resources come available.

Staff training programmes are reviewed each year in response to new information and new methodologies.

Recapitalization of visitor facilities has been undertaken under a philosophy of continuous improvement, using whatever resources come available to reinvest into the quality of the facilites at the site.

The emergency response plan has been identified for formal development within the year.

Needs for International Assistance

7f Anticipated Requests for International Assistance
It is not anticipated that International Assistance, through the World Heritage Fund, will be requested.

Actions State Party Intends to Request from World Heritage Committee

7g Potential Decisions for the World Heritage Committee
  • Change to criteria for inscription
  • Proposed new Statement of Significance, where previously missing