Buffalo jump symbol
Buffalo jump symbol

Symbolism

Buffalo Jumps and Buffalo Pounds

As the staff of life, buffalo were important to all aspects of Plains Indian culture and symbols of them found expression in women's artistry. Across the Plains, people had varying techniques for hunting buffalo. In the north, people made use of the hilly terrain to lure buffalo to the edges of cliffs from which they would plummet to their deaths. Buffalo jumps, as these areas were called, were often symbolized on northern footwear by a large U-shape that from the wearer's perspective looked like a precipice. Buffalo pounds, which were used to enclose the buffalo so that they could be more easily hunted, could also be constructed out of natural landscape or they could be man-made. The distinctive "key hole" shape of many pounds was interpreted into beadwork across the Plains.
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