Tipi, First Peoples Buffalo Jump, Cascade County, Montana


During a recent photography workshop I taught for the C.M. Russell Museum, we visited the First People’s Buffalo Jump, a state park located near Great Falls, Montana. The park is the site of a “buffalo jump” —a place where American Bison could be driven up a hill and over a cliff by Native Americans beginning possibly 5000 years ago. Bison were a significant food source for Native Americans tribes in the area and killing the animals was hard as Bison were notoriously difficult to herd or capture. Buffalo jumps were one way to kill large numbers of animals at a time.


Located just outside the visitor center at the park is a tipi similar to those used by Native Americans in the area many years ago. During summer months, the park will sometimes build a fire inside the tipi in order to create a beautiful night time effect. The image I made is a single RAW capture, finished in Adobe Photoshop and I delight in the final result.

[SPOILER ALERT] Because wind is prevalent in the area and the chance of igniting the surrounding grass on fire was pretty high, it was decided, with the help of workshop participants, to illuminate the tipi using three propane fueled camping lanterns. I say whatever works . . .

Learn more about the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park Learn more about Montana State Parks