What is a Buffalo Stone?
The Buffalo Stone (also referred to as “Iniskim”) is known to the indigenous Blackfoot Peoples of Southern Alberta as a powerful and significant stone derived from the fossilized remnants of the ammonite, or baculite. These stones are said to possess unique properties, and Blackfoot legend dictates that the first Buffalo Stone saved an entire clan of starving people.
What is the Connection with Ammolite Jewelry?
Buffalo Stones, like Ammolite gemstones, are actually 71 million year old fossils sourced from Southern Alberta. The Buffalo Stone is a segment of a fossilized sea creature called a baculite; these are a type of ammonite that are straight instead of being coiled. The shape of the septa walls are uneven and as it weathers, it can resemble the shape of a buffalo - with four legs and a big chin, just like a buffalo. Buffalo Stones commonly refer to weathered fossils. These fossils are found without colour as the years of erosion, mainly wind and rain, have stripped all colour from the outer layers of these fossils. Ammolite refers to the colored, shimmering layers of Aragonite that were able to form in rare cases along the outside of these fossils. KORITE uses this form of Ammolite to make all of our jewelry.
What is the Legend of the Buffalo Stone?
Troy Knowlton, Piikani nation member, ceremonialist, and life long hunter has provided a captivating and authentic telling of the legend of the Buffalo Stone as part of the documentary ‘Ammolite - Gem of the West’.
We at KORITE are excited to showcase this important historical link between the esteemed Blackfoot peoples and Ammolite. We hope that this story begins your journey to continue learning more about the Indigenous peoples of Canada in honour of June 21st; National Indigeneous People’s day.
When you go back to the origin story over a thousand years ago, there was one certain Blackfoot clan in this geographical area that was having a very rough go in the wintertime. The buffalo weren’t accessible, deer and rabbits and the like were also very scarce - and every day the people of the tribe would pray in earnest and ask the Creator for some sort of assistance.
So one night, a young lady has a dream. And in this dream, a spirit visits her and tells her “The Creator has heard your prayers, and he sees your struggle, he has sent me, a spirit to give you a gift. And this gift is going to come in the form of a stone called the ‘Iniskim’ - Buffalo Stone.” It also gave her instructions on where to find it and what to look for; the signature marks in the landscape will be indicators to tell her she’s near. But the most important indicator - “you’ll hear this song coming from the stone”. The spirit told her - “Perform this ceremony and sing these songs, and those songs, along with the stone will bring the buffalo to you.
So, she woke up in the morning, and she told her husband “I had this dream.”. And he told her “prepare, and go find this stone.”. So he called all the people of the camp together and he said “Creator has heard our prayers, and he’s answered us!”. She was sent on her way to find it, and as she went through the valley she started seeing the little indicators that the spirit had said she would see. And then she heard that song, and as she followed and got closer it got louder, louder until it brought her to a small stone that was sitting there, waiting for her. She picked up the stone, and she brought it back to the camp - and she presented it to her husband and told her husband “This is the gift.”. And he said “What do you do now?”. She said “we prepare for a ceremony tonight - singing the songs that the spirit has given me, and performing the ceremony through prayers as instructed.”. She also said “There are two signs that are going to show that this promise is going to come to fruition. The first one is that a storm is going to come in from the North. The dream instructed us to tether down our teepees and bring in our personal belongings, so the people can live. The second sign was that a buffalo is going to come and he’s going to wander through the camp tonight. However, we’re not to harm this buffalo.”. The dream instructed her to tell the camp to tie their dogs.
As the night grew on, the storm started to move in and those who didn’t prepare, their teepees were being blown over - their personal effects were being blown about - and they ran for refuge to where the ceremonies were going on. As the ceremony went on through the night, the dogs started barking - and when they looked out, they could see this buffalo wandering through the teepees, and they knew they were instructed not to harm this buffalo.
Towards morning, the storm subsided and there was a dead calm. There was no wind at all. The sun rose in the east, there were drifts everywhere, and just outside camp there was a small herd of buffalo that were trapped in chest deep snow. The people of the camp were able to go out and dispatch those buffalo, and then provide food, shelter, and clothing throughout the rest of the winter - because the buffalo stone is a by-product, or is derived from segments of the ammonite, and/or the baculite. It was given to our people, a thousand years ago - to bring assistance, luck and prosperity in the hunt - and the hunt meant food, shelter, and clothing.