Since our Memorial Day trip to Devils Tower I have tried to see the Vore Buffalo Jump.
Since the site doesn’t open until 13 June, I was too early Memorial Day. My hope was to see it when Jamie and I came back to climb Devils Tower. On Friday we set out to see the Vore Jump only to experience some scattered thunderstorms causing the site to be closed.
It’s an easy little trip from Devils Tower full of wildlife viewing opportunities and arguably some of the most pristine scenery in all of Wyoming. So we don‘t mind the getting there part...however, it was disappointing to strike out twice.
Good news is, third time’s a charm! Today we had a truly unique experience touring the Vore Buffalo Jump.
Wyoming as a whole has this feel of community. I‘ve seen this firsthand with the thousands of volunteers that put on the famous Cheyenne Frontier Days and experienced it with new neighbors who welcome you to the neighborhood with a homemade pie. After experiencing Vore site, I’m starting to believe that sense of community is bred into Wyomingites.
Vore Jump was used for over 300 years ranging from the 1500s-1800s by as many as five different Native American tribes often working alongside the other tribes (perhaps rivals on occasion) to harvest a winters’ supply of buffalo.
Today, visitors can see layer upon layer of buffalo bones as well as Native American arrowheads and tools, all preserved in pristine condition. Archeologists have been digging at the Vore Jump over 30 years reaching depths of twenty feet. Each inch of the way, remains and artifacts are perfectly preserved. An estimated 20,000 plus buffalo have been harvested where my feet stood today. How wild is that?
Perhaps what is even more mind boggling than the number of buffalo harvested is the method in which they were taken and the various uses the buffalo had in sustaining the tribes.
Vore Jump is merely a sinkhole in the earth - a resource that was vital to hunting large game before the introduction of horses. Working as a community the Natives (on foot) would herd mass numbers of buffalo toward the sinkhole and just before reaching the rim, a stampede would take them over the edge. The goal was simply to trap the buffalo below making the harvest more achievable. Once the animals were inside the bowl, shooters would take position around the upper rim and open fire, or should I say open fling?
The buffalo weren’t merely a source of meat. They were the livelihood for a people. Every bone with the exception of two neck vertebrae are said to have been used. Uses included: clothing, tools, medicine, containers and many more.
The Vore Buffalo Jump is a historical site capable of being a major educational and tourist attraction. The site is in its infancy of development but plans are in place to expand on this truly amazing Wyoming wonder. If you would like to get involved or financially support the Vore Jump check out their official site.
The moral of the story is simple: Community Matters.