Ulm Pishkun State Park southwest of Great Falls has a new name: First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park.
“The name of the park should evoke a sense of unity, peace and cultural sensitivity,” says Richard Hopkins, Fish, Wildlife and Parks state park manager.
Part of the need for a change, Hopkins said, is to avoid confusion with the public. Pishkun is a Blackfeet word that means corral, but Ulm comes from a German homesteader in the area. And 14 different tribes used the jump.
“We are adding the name Buffalo Jump to the title so it will be more descriptive,” Hopkins says. “Besides a place to harvest an entire herd of buffalo, it was also a gathering place and a place of peace among the people who used it.”
The park consists of 1,841 acres and lies 10 miles southwest of Great Falls.
The name change became effective Aug. 16 when Jeff Hagener, FWP director, approved it.
In 2001, FWP began work on the park’s management plan. Out of that discussion came the idea to evaluate the park’s name. Hopkins visited six tribal councils, discussing several names. First Peoples Buffalo Jump became the most acceptable. Other names considered included Gathering Place Buffalo Jump and Sacred Ground Buffalo Jump. Support to change the name also came from the governor’s office.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump became a state park in 1972. FWP has added acreage and improved facilities ever since. In March 2007, FWP added 418 acres.
Currently, construction is nearing completion on a garage and storage building and expanded parking lot to accommodate more buses and RV’s.This past spring C.M. Russell high school students installed new trail markers. A new trail brochure is due in mid-September, pointing out new finds of artifacts and pictographs.