Wyoming

The Vore Buffalo Jump, northeastern Wyoming, 7-30-10. It’s amazing and you can see the layers (and different time periods) of the animal’s bones.

After I left South Dakota I went to Thermopolis, Wyoming and soaked in the mineral hot springs there. A bubbling spring at Thermopolis produces about 18,000 gallons per day of nearly 135-degree water. Most of it is cooled to the low 100s before being sent into the public pools. On my way to Thermopolis I stopped at the Vore Buffalo Jump in northeastern Wyoming (read the signs below, click on them to full-screen them.)

For about 300 years different northern Plains Indian tribes used this natural sinkhole to trap and kill bison by forcing the animals over the edge. The guide at the site explained how as the buffalos filled the sinkhole the ones that landed on top of others survived because their unfortunate brethren cushioned their fall. The Indians would then go into the pit and, during very dangerous work, use bow and arrows to kill the survivors.

The guide said the ground layer of bones was from about 1776. She also said archeologists could determine, by the scrape marks on the bones, when the Indians switched from tools made out of animal bones to metal tools. She also said the Indians knew not to overkill the buffalo population and would wait a few years after a big kill before conducting another one to make sure they didn’t deplete the species.

And I’m amazed at the Indians’ resourcefulness and ability to live off the land and use everything from the animals they killed. Buffalo hides were used for blankets, clothing and teepees. Buffalo bladders were dried in the sun and used as canteens and sewing kit pouches and the animal’s bones were used for tools, ornaments and other things.

They built a shelter, in the sinkhole, over the excavation site.

See the broken-open bone in the lower left-hand side. The guide said the Indians broke open certain bones to eat the marrow inside. The marrow was spongy and provided a source of fat for the Indians.

I drove through a beautiful canyon in Wyoming on Highway 16.

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