A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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Archive: American Haibun & Haiga Volume 4

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Bruce Ross


Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

For more than 10,000 years the Plains Indians stampeded herds of buffalo over cliffs to their deaths and butchered the animals for food beneath those cliffs. I live near the northern terminus of such jumps, Dry Island Buffalo Jump in Central Alberta. On several visits I pondered the beauty and starkness of the place that once served the hunter and gatherer aboriginals so well. In the heat of summer’s end I was visiting one of the oldest and best preserved of these jumps. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump southeast of Calgary. Despite the oppressive afternoon prairie heat I wandered down the dirt trail that passed beside the spot where the buffalo fell. A grasshopper moved over just a little in the dust as I walked past it. A young ivory moth chased its shadow into the weeds. A light but steady wind nestled the wild grasses. I paused at the killing ground but could not fathom the joy those hunters must have felt nor the cost of that joy. I looked up to the top of the cliff I had walked on earlier:

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump:
orange gold lichen
along the cliff’s edge

[Return to Author List, Vol 4 ]


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