Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fort Macleod and Head-smashed-in Buffalo Jump

Photo: The cliffs of the UNESCO heritage site, Head smashed in Buffalo Jump, courtesy of Pictures and Photos of Canada

Located in southern Alberta, Fort Macleod was established in by and for the Royal Northwest Mounted Police, the NWMP, after their long and arduous march from central Canada in the days before the railroad was built.

Here one of the first riding exhibitions took place in 1876. The Fort NWMP and First Nations Interpretive Centre was established in 1957. Its mandate is to "preserve, display and interpret" the history of Canada's police force and the local First Nations, as this relationship had a strong impact on the development of Western Canada.

The tradition of ceremonial horsemanship lives on at Fort Macleod, where regular historic NWMP musical rides take place each summer. This is distinct from the official RCMP musical ride of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, our national police force. Though the RCMP is an organization descended from the NWMP, they have their own Heritage Centre in Regina.

Near Fort Macleod is a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage site, Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. Long ago, the plains people hunted buffalo by stampeding them over the cliff; hence the name.

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