Jump Into The Past
Boasting one of, if not the, largest bison cliff jump in North America, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is rich with Native American history. Going back nearly one thousand years before Lewis & Clark passed through the area, the Plains Indians (and later other tribes as well) utilized the cliff in the hunting of bison, driving herds of the animals over the edge to their doom. The task of coordinating such a hunt is fascinating and the park offers many opportunities to learn about the buffalo jump and how it was used. Visitors are welcome to tour First Peoples’ 6,000 square foot Visitors Center, complete with culture exhibits, a storytelling circle, classroom, gallery, and bookstore. At certain times, staff members are on hand to provide guided history talks as well. “Fourteen different tribes used this jump so there’s a lot of history here,” says Jacob Edmondson, an Americorps Member at First Peoples. “In fact, the park used to be called ‘Ulm Pishkun’ because `pishkun’ was the word the Blackfeet used to describe it, but the name was later changed to First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park to encompass all of the tribes who used this area.”
Education is just one of many opportunities that First Peoples offers. “Getting people outdoors is a very important aspect of what we do,” says Edmondson. There are many outdoor activities for visitors to partake in, including hiking and wildlife viewing. First Peoples has an outdoor amphitheater and traditional game playing fields, and throughout the year, the park holds various outdoor events. With so much to do, the park draws in visitors for many reasons and Edmondson is working on an outreach program to continue bringing people in. Through First Peoples, he’s developed a team building program designed for at-risk youth and outpatients at the local mental health clinic. Getting the participants outdoors and involved with others has been good for them and Edmondson has yet to hear a single negative comment about it. “A lot of people want to come back,” says Edmondson. “Standing where so much history happened — it’s a rewarding experience.” First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is located at 342 Ulm-Vaughn Road, north of Ulm. For more information, call (406) 866-2217 or visit stateparks.mt.gov/first-peoples-buffalo-jump.