LOGAN – The American bison was life for many of Montana’s Native people and Southwest Montana is home to a piece of land that helped them for thousands of years.
The Madison Buffalo Jump State Park is just over 600 acres above the Madison River and became Montana’s 20th state park back in 1966.
The area has been an important location for a couple of thousand years for 14 Native tribes — and that importance will be celebrated this weekend.
“We’ll also probably have some games and some atlatl (spear-throwing). Of course, the Bear Canyon Singers will be doing some drumming and dancing for us. And we’ll also go over and bless the trail and just kind of give thanks to the creator,” said Dave Andrus with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Food, games and music are all part of the weekend but for most, it’s the sharing of culture that will be the highlight.
“For me, it’s more important that — you know, sharing it. More of the cultural part of it. And having all the Native American tribes within this part of the area be a part of this,” said Kevin Curley. “And also being on the board as well for the Madison Buffalo Jump and being a Bear Canyon Singer. I’m so blessed to be a part of it.
Entire families spent time in the area over the centuries, processing bison for the survival of their tribes. This weekend, families will once again gather — to share and remember.
“Just being able to join in with family and friends here. I’ll have children with me and hopefully, we’ll do some singing and dancing and just really enjoy our community,” said Shane Doyle with the Bear Canyon Signers. “And not too many people know we celebrate this place, and so hopefully, we can shine a spotlight on it.”
“Culture that goes along with the history. I mean the song, the dance, they’re all intertwined…and just to bring them all together here with our community, Doyle said.
“I think it’s just a good reason to celebrate and something that we should do more of. Hopefully, we can turn this into an annual event,” he concluded.
Madison Buffalo Jump is celebrating 50 plus years as a state park – and a few thousand years as a cultural center. The events begin at the park near Logan at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Chet Layman – MTN News