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Women's Buffalo Jump

Cayley, Near

Other Names:
Cayley Kill
Old Women's Buffalo Jump
Old Women's Buffalo Jump Archaeological Site
Old Women's Buffalo Jump Historical Site

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Women's Buffalo Jump archaeological site is located on the south bank of Women's Coulee about 3km northwest of Cayley. The site consists of low sandstone cliffs creating a 6 to 7 metre drop to the slope deposits below and bone beds representing the remains of numerous bison driving, killing, and processing events, which extend to the bottom of the valley of Women's Coulee. The slope deposits provide evidence of site use dating from the Late Middle Prehistoric Period (ca. 2700-1500 years ago) into the Late Prehistoric Period (ca. 1500 to 250 years ago). Artifacts collected from this site are stored in the Royal Alberta Museum.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Women's Buffalo Jump archaeological site lies in the fact that its multiple bone bed deposits represent a well-preserved and clearly identifiable Aboriginal land use pattern that occurred in the Rocky Mountain Foothills over the last two millennia. Rapid and frequent burial of continuous cultural occupations by slope erosion has resulted in excellent preservation of up to 30 discrete cultural layers. These deposits represent the Middle Prehistoric Period, including layers 17 to 28 with Pelican Lake Phase (ca. 2700-2000 BP) materials and layers 15 to 21 with Besant Phase (2000 BP to 1500 BP) material, as well as the Late Prehistoric Period (ca. 1500-250 years ago), including a minimal amount of Avonlea Phase (ca. 1300 years ago) material and layers 1 to 13 containing Old Women's Phase (ca. 1300-250 years ago) materials. Among buffalo jump kill sites in Alberta, few are so well stratified or contain well-preserved materials in such quantity. In addition, the site is believed to be the origin location for the Blackfoot legend that describes the first marriage between men and women, and features the deity Napi as a central figure.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 31)

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Women's Buffalo Jump archaeological site include:
- the well-stratified nature of the numerous Late Middle Prehistoric Period and Late Prehistoric Period bone beds, which represent analytically separable communal hunting episodes;
- the potential scientific value of remaining intact deposits which exhibit quantity, diversity and integrity in cultural materials, including the excellent preservation of organic specimens, thousands of stone artifacts, hundreds of thousands of preserved bones, as well as more unique artifacts such as bone tools, shell and bone beads, pottery and time and culture sensitive specimens such as stone projectile points (arrow points), a metal projectile point, and pottery;
- its location in native prairie grasslands in the Foothills of Alberta in a topographic situation conducive to the processes involved in communal bison driving;
- the research potential of existing collections obtained from the site;
- the oral history/legend retained by First Nations peoples relating to its connection with Blackfoot culture.


Street Address:
Community: Cayley, Near
Contributing Resources: Archaeological Site / Remains: 1
Landscape(s) or Landscape Feature(s): 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1979/10/15

Historical Information

Built: N/A
Period of Significance: N/A
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Hunting and Gathering
Peopling the Land : Canada's Earliest Inhabitants
Peopling the Land : People and the Environment
Historic Function(s): Food Supply : Hunting or Resource Harvesting Site
Current Function(s):
Context: N/A

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0079
Designation File: DES 0031
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 24310
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 31)
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