Wood Buffalo National Park of Canada

Cultural History

Bison herd
Bison herd
© Parks Canada / WBWB 479

Wood Buffalo National Park was created in 1922 to protect the last remaining herds of wood bison in northern Canada. Plains bison were shipped to the park from Wainwright, Alberta, between 1925 and 1928. The imported bison promptly moved south of the Peace River into the Peace-Athabasca Delta area. In 1926 the park boundaries were expanded to include this new bison range. Today Wood Buffalo National Park protects one of the largest free-roaming, self-regulating bison herds in the world.

Archeological evidence shows that Aboriginal people have inhabited the Wood Buffalo region for more than 8000 years, long before fur traders arrived in the early 1700s. The Europeans called the people they met in this region Beaver, Slavey and Chipewyan. The Beaver and Slavey left the area as the fur trade moved west. Today, the communities around the park are mostly made up of Cree, Chipewyan, Metis and non-aboriginal people.

Traditional tanning of a moosehide
Traditional tanning of a moosehide
© Parks Canada / P. McCloskey / 4-11

Subsistence hunting, fishing and trapping still occur in Wood Buffalo National Park, as they have for centuries, and commercial trapping continues as a legacy of the fur trade. Traditional use of certain park resources by local Aboriginal groups is an important part of the park's cultural history.

A thorough understanding of traditional and scientific information is critical to protecting the ecological and cultural integrity of the Wood Buffalo area. Park staff and local traditional users are working together co-operatively towards this goal.