2024 Canada Heads-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Location: PF62+W4 Stowe, AB, Canada

Season: May 19, 2024 to June 23, 2024

Session Dates: Single session

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

Deadline Type: Rolling


Discount for AIA members: No

Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Center for Field Sciences (US), University of Lethbridge (Canada) & Royal Alberta Museum (Canada)

Project Director:
Dr. Shawn Bubel, University of Lethbridge, Dr. Kevin McGeough, University of Lethbridge, and Bob Dawe, Royal Alberta Museum

Project Description:

Heads-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is located in the Porcupine Hills of southwestern Alberta, Canada. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has an interpretive centre run by mostly Blackfoot staff that has hosted over two million visitors since 1987. The site is an elaborate complex spread across the landscape where, for at least the past 5,500 years, hunters used the natural landscape to drive herds of bison off cliff edges and then process the animals in the vicinity. It is one of the most important locations of Indigenous heritage.

Our work at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump aims to clarify chronological and contextual issues related to the earliest occupation phases at the site, evaluate the relationships between different parts of the site, and identify earlier uses than those currently well-documented. Through this work, students will learn about the site and develop key skills necessary in North American archaeology. These elements of the project will involve targeted testing and excavations in three areas of the site and supplemental testing, surveying, and mapping in three other areas. During the field school students will have an opportunity to excavate at the site and process the archaeological materials they unearth in the laboratory.

Period(s) of Occupation: Pre Contact Period

Tuition is $3,495. Tuition covers the full cost of instruction, room & board, transportation while in the program and 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter credit units). Credit units are awarded through our School of Record – Culver Stockton College.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full session

Minimum Age: 18 years old

Experience Required: There are no prerequisites for participation in this field school. Students will receive hands-on training in archaeological field work so will spend most of their time learning how to excavate and record their finds. Students must come equipped with sufficient excitement and adequate understanding that the archaeological endeavor requires real, hard work in a camp environment. Some days will be hot, temperatures can reach 30⁰C (85⁰F) and other days will be cold and rainy. It may even snow. Students will be taught how to use a variety of excavation tools, from shovels and wheelbarrows, to trowels, brushes, and sieves, and are expected to use all of them. Archaeology involves physical work and exposure to the elements, thus, requires a measure of acceptance that this will not be the typical university learning environment. Students will get dirty, sweaty, tired, and must work closely with others. We hope that the thrill of discovering archaeological remains will outweigh the stiff muscles and exhausting days.

Room and Board Arrangements:
During the four-week excavation component of the field school, the students and directors live at the campground (basecamp) just south of Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. Students must bring their own tent, sleeping bag, air mattress/cot, towels, and other personal items (shampoo, soap, etc.). There are washrooms, showers, and laundry facilities at basecamp. A camp kitchen and other facilities will be constructed upon arrival. Lights and electricity are available at the campsite but electricity must be used sparingly. There is limited internet but good cell phone reception at basecamp. Students and staff will take turns cleaning, cooking, and caring for basecamp. The field school team prepares well-balanced, nutritious meals. Since these are group meals, individual dietary needs will be accommodated as best as possible, although it is not possible to be fully gluten free, kosher, etc. There will be a number of meat or dairy, vegetable, and starch (rice, potatoes, bread, etc.) choices. Breakfasts and dinners are prepared and eaten at basecamp. Individual lunches are packed in the morning and are taken to the site along with water containers.

Academic Credit:
8 Semester Credit Units (Equivalent to 12 Quarter Units) awarded through our School of Record – Culver Stockton College.

Contact Information:

CFS Admissions

Los Angeles



United States

Phone: (562) 584-0761

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