Friday, May 13, 2011

Communal Buffalo Hunting: Driveline, Jumps and Pounds

The Blackfoot of Southern Alberta and Montana are known to have used a hunting technique very similar to the Syrian desert kite technique.    Prior to the introduction of the horse in the Americas, the driveline (kite) and jump or pound (corral) technique was the dominant method of mass buffalo hunting in the North American Prairie.  The techniques are aptly described at the Royal Alberta Museam website here.  What is evident with the method is that it required a great deal of coordination and planning by all members of the community. However, the pay-off was big:  enough food, housing and clothing for months to come.  The method would have served the hunters well, either through a long North American winter or a long Syrian summer.

The most famous North American Buffalo Jump is the UNESCO World Heritage Site Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, so named for a lead hunter or "buffalo runner" who had been assigned to lead the buffalo over the cliff, but was not able to get out of the way.  A short two minute visit describes this site:

Most of us are familiar with the iconic teepee, but the thought that a teepee traditionally would have been constructed of twelve buffalo hides is rarely mentioned.  Construction likely would have required mass hunting techniques such as drivelines, jumps and pounds, to create a village of teepees. 

Further reading:

Imagining Head-Smashed-In:  Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains, Jack W. Brink, 2008

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