Wahkpa Chu'gn plans activities, reconstruction


Tim Leeds Havre Daily News [email protected]

This year has been a busy time for the people working on a local archaeological site. The members of the H. Earl and Margaret Turner Clack Memorial Museum Foundation and the management team of the Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump west of Havre have been active with fundraising and efforts to stabilize the site, and in planning an annual atlatl competition and the foundation's annual meeting and dinner theater fundraiser. With about half of the money needed to pay for a mural planned for construction west of Havre already raised, the foundation is continuing to sell engraved plates to be put on the mural to pay for the wall and to raise funds for other work, said Elaine Morse, president of the Clack Museum Foundation. Work is about to begin in Canada on the bricks that will be used in the mural. “This one is going up,” Morse said. Anna Brumley, manager of the Wahkpa Chu'gn bison kill archaeological site, said two walls will be built on land donated by Bill and Judy Dritshulas on the edge of the hill just east of the Dritshulas' business Murphy's Pub. The wall will be by the hotel the Dritshulases are planning to build on the land. One wall will show a mural representing Wahkpa Chu'gn, done by Canadian artist James Marshall of Medicine Hat, and the other holding the engraved polished black granite plates. Brumley said Marshall is a well-known artist, who has done the brick murals for years, erecting the murals throughout Canada and the United states as well as in England and Japan. Information about the mural will be available this Saturday and on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 while foundation members sell tickets at Gary & Leo's Fresh Food to the foundation's dinner theater event, set for Oct. 10 at the Olympic Room at the Duck Inn. Other work also is getting into high gear including planning an entry promoting the mural in the annual Festival Days Parade being held on Sept. 19 and for an annual meeting of and fundraising dinner for the foundation. Brumley said crucial work has been done on the site this summer, and part of the fundraising efforts are for additional work planned next year. “Three of the exhibit houses have pretty extensive damage,” Brumley said. “(Water erosion) was cutting two or three feet into the wall One (exhibit) had about a two-foot hole leading into the artifacts.” The site, located on the bluff just north of the Holiday Village Mall west of Havre, was first discovered in 1962 by Brumley's husband, John Brumley, while he was a child. The site was excavated and developed in the 1960s and 1970s by the Montana Archaeological Society and the Milk River Archaeological Society under the auspices of the Clack Museum and the Hill County government, the Wahkpa Chu'gn Web site says. After becoming an archaeologist, John Brumley continued excavations and development at the site, and in 1992 he and his wife took over the management of the site. Wahkpa Chu'gn is open for tours, showing the excavations and archaeological material dating back as much as 2,000 years ago, a history of the American Indians in the area stampeding bison off the cliff and butchering the animals for their use. Anna Brumley said two grant applications are pending, the money from which, if approved, would be used to replace the exhibit buildings at the site, and to build a small interpretive center if enough funding is received. Funds raised through sales of named bricks to put on the brick mural would be used to pay for required local matches on the grants, or to do as much work as possible if the grants are not approved, she said. This weekend also is a busy time at the site, with the seventh annual atlatl competition being held at the site from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday and Sunday. Brumley said members of the World Atlatl Association will be at the competition to demonstrate the use of the ancient weapon, a precursor of the bow and arrow, in which a handle is used to propel a dart. The association members also will give free lessons and walk people through the course of 10 targets and a moving target shaped like a bison. Brumley said anyone who wishes to come to the atlatl competition is welcome to come and try their hand with the ancient weapon, either in competition or just to have fun. The first-place winners of the men's, women's and children's categories each will receive a $500 prize, and other prizes including special prizes for people who can hit the “running buffalo” will be awarded, she said. “It's just a family thing just a learning experience,” Brumley said. On the Net: Wahkpa Chu'gn Buffalo Jump: http://www.buffalojump. org


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