Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a buffalo jump located where the foothills of the Rocky Mountains begin to rise from the prairie 18 km northwest of Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada on highway 785. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of a museum of Blackfoot culture.
In Blackfoot, the name for the site is Estipah-skikikini-kots. According to legend, a young Blackfoot wanted to watch the buffalo plunge off the cliff from below, but was buried underneath the falling buffalo. He was later found dead under the pile of carcasses "where he got his head smashed in" .
Head-Smashed-In was abandoned in the 19th century after European contact. The site was first recorded by Europeans in the 1880s, and first excavated by the American Museum of Natural History in 1938. It was designated a Canadian National Historic Site in 1968, a Provincial Historic Site in 1979, and a World Heritage Site in 1981, putting it in the ranks of such sites such as the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge and the Galápagos Islands.
The park was established as a World Heritage Site in 1981 for its testimony of prehistoric life and the customs of aboriginal people.
The $10 million interpretive centre at Head-Smashed-In is built into the ancient sandstone cliff in naturalistic fashion. It contains five distinct levels depicting the ecology, mythology, lifestyle and technology of Blackfoot peoples within the context of available archaeological evidence, presented from the viewpoints of both aboriginal peoples and European archaeological science.
The centre also offers tipi camping and hands-on educational workshops in facets of Native American life, such as making moccasins, drums, etc. Each year Head-Smashed-In hosts a number of special events and native festivals known throughout the world for their color, energy and authenticity, including a special Christmas festival called Heritage Through My Hands, which brings together native artists and craftspeople who display a wide variety of jewelry, clothing, art and crafts.
Dave Barry has mentioned Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump in several of his books. When he found out about the site, he called the phone number of the Interpretive Centre, and the telephone was answered, "Head Smashed In, may I help you?" He claims this was a highlight of his life.