Bison Trap at the Interface
The Vore Buffalo Jump is on the interface between what were once great bison pastures of the northern Great Plains and the Black Hills, making it highly attractive to various groups of buffalo hunters. In about 300 years, the site was used by five or more tribes.
The rich cultures and fascinating history of the Plains Indians developed around the immense bison herds and grasslands and of western North America.
Many Native American groups believe the Black Hills have spiritual properties as well as important material resources.
Varves Help Date the Site
Events at the Vore Site can be dated with precision that is unprecedented among archeological excavations in part because the annual layers of sediment, called varves, that washed into the sink hole can be counted much like tree rings.
When combined with other dating techniques, these varves allow scientists to estimate the dates of “jumps” at the site with amazing accuracy. The varves also provide evidence about weather cycles, ecological change, and other factors of interest.
Bones and Stone Artifacts
The Vore Buffalo Jump features enormous quantities of bone and stone artifacts that are perfectly preserved in discrete, precisely datable layers and held in place within a natural bowl.
Within the site are the butchered remnants of as many as 10,000 bison as well as thousands of chipped stone arrow points, knives, and other tools. The materials are contained within 22 cultural levels that extend downward to a depth of nearly 20 feet.
Much Yet to Learn..and a Great Place to Learn it
Because only about 10% of the Vore Buffalo Jump has been excavated, there is potential for decades of scientific research in several different disciplines…archaeology, tribal ethnohistory, zoology, geology, and paleoclimatic studies. Dozens of technical papers based on data from the Vore site have already been published. Just as the Black Hills attracted Native Americans, visitors from around the world are fascinated by Plains Indians. Because it is literally a stone’s throw from one of America’s busiest highways, the Vore Buffalo Jump is also the most accessible of the major Plains Indian sites to the traveling public. The Vore Site thus provides a perfect physical context for illuminating Plains Indian culture and history and presenting it to visitors.
The photo shows an excavation unit at the Vore Buffalo Jump with some of the more than 20 layers of bison bone and other artifacts. The photo was taken during the post-discovery survey in 1971.
The variety of arrow point styles and stone types found at the Vore site provides inferential evidence that the “Jump” was used by multiple tribes.