The Hardisty Bison Pound

Between 2008 and 2014, five separate archaeological excavations took place at the Hardisty Bison Pound and its associated campsite. These two sites, located across the Battle River from the town of Hardisty, were excavated in response to developments that took place during facility expansions at the Hardisty Terminal.

Bison pounds are a form of communal hunting common on the Plains. They are characterised by a wooden corral with hides draped over the edge. Bison would have been herded into the fenced enclosure to be slaughtered for consumption by the community using the pound. The landforms surrounding the Hardisty Bison pound share distinct features that would have been essential to many communal kills. Many of these features have been introduced in past RETROactive posts, in particular Mike Donnelly and Todd Kristensen’s post on Head-Smashed-In. Most notably, the Battle River valley and the hills surrounding the Hardisty Bison Pound combined to form a funnel that would have acted to concentrate bison herds close to the current location of the terminal. With the addition of drive lanes and buffalo runners luring bison into the trap, these herds would have been driven quite easily into the pound, both to feed people living in the area as well as for production of meat and hide products to trade with people further east in what is now Manitoba and North and South Dakota.

Excavation Block from 2009 excavation at the Hardisty Bison Pound. The pound is located on the far side of the block at the toe of the small hill in the background (Photo Credit:  Matthew Moors, FMA Heritage Inc., Permit 09-020).

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