What a score!
While the facility itself is amazing, having my very own guide and hearing first hand so many amazing stories made my experience truly spectacular.
There were so many conditions that had to be right for the jump to work. Wind, temperature, where they were in the season and of course training the younger people of the tribe to contribute. Too early and they often didn't get enough meat and fat off the animals, too late and they risked the buffalo moving on and not getting anything.
They would situate branches stuck into rock piles in the direct of the cliff. These branches would wave in the wind and rustle further spooking the buffalo. Many warriors would line the drive lanes, hidden under grasses and skins just waiting for the run to start. Once directed they would jump up and add to the drama that kept the buffalo on the lane.
A few of the best trackers would slowly creep up on the herd dressed in wolf skins. They weren't trying to scare the beasts, they would keep their actions slow and deliberate until the buffalo's were well and truly in the drive lanes without realizing it. They would play on the buffalo's instinct to protect their young knowing that once the first of the herd started to run - the rest would follow. It was an amazing achievement especially when you know that they used every single part that they could of the beasts.
Meat was cut and dried and then mixed with the fat and juniper berries (which helped to preserve it) into what looks like pulled beef. It was ground down into almost a powder and then stored for the winter. Skins & fur made clothes and equipment. Bones made tools and medicinal remedies. There was pretty much nothing they left behind. No recycling required! The only thing they did tend to leave was the skulls. No-one could really tell me why but Little Leaf did say he thought it was mostly a time constraint and also to honor the animals. The skulls didn't have long enough bones to be really useful and of course once they had hundreds of dead animals they had limited time to slaughter and store the meat so something had to give. That makes sense too.
If you do the centre, be sure and do the lower trails after you leave the building. Once you have heard the stories its easy to hear the tribe celebrating and the thunder of the hooves. I shit you not - you can feel it. I'm sure its just in your brain but it is almost impossible not to image what it must have been like on those days.
One of the best things I've done and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Keep your mind open, look at all of the exhibits as they all tell stories and put yourself back into that time, in the fall and imagine the excitement that must have been around in the build up to the jump.