Sleeping Buffalo Rock

Jct. of MT 243 and US 2, Saco, Montana


Sleeping Buffalo Rock Saco MT

Photo taken by David Jones in August 2017



Street View 


"A nearby wind-swept ridge overlooking the Cree Crossing on the Milk River was the original resting place of this ancient weather-worn effigy. There the boulder sat as the leader of a herd of reclining buffalo envisioned in an outcrop of granite. Incised markings made in the distant past define its horns, eyes, backbone, and ribs. Since late prehistoric times, native peoples of the Northern Plains have revered the Sleeping Buffalo’s spiritual power. Oral traditions reveal that is was well known to the Cree, Chippewa, Sioux, Assiniboine, and Gros Ventre as well as the more distant Blackfeet, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne. Stories passed from generation to generation tell how the “herd” fooled more than one buffalo-hunting party. While each tribe has its own culture and beliefs, native peoples share a worldview intertwining the sacred and secular. A Chippewa-Cree elder explained, “These rocks are sacred, just like our old people.” In 1932, the Sleeping Buffalo was separated from its ridgetop companions. Relocated to the City Park in Malta, the Sleeping Buffalo was said to have been restless; stories are told of its changing position and nighttime bellowing. Moved to this site in 1967 from old Highway 2, the Sleeping Buffalo was later rejoined by the larger “Medicine Rock” in 1987, also collected near Cree Crossing. These timeless objects continue to figure prominently in traditional ceremonies. They provide a link to ancestral peoples of the high plains and the long ago time when, as one elder put it, “The power of the prairie was the buffalo.” - NRHP/Montana Historical Society plaque

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 17, 1996
Reference number
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Historic function
Ceremonial site
Current function
Ceremonial site
Periods of significance
1000 AD-999 BC; 1000-500 AD; 1499-1000 AD; 1749-1500 AD; 1900-1750 AD; 1900-1924; 1925-1949; 1950-1974; 1975-2000


Have Street View (50,476)
Montana (2,299)
Moved (2,194)
Object (44)
Owned by state government (3,452)
Phillips County, Montana (17)
Saco, Montana (3)
Stone (26,167)

Update Log 

  • November 17, 2021: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger
  • January 26, 2020: New photo from Bill Eichelberger
  • July 28, 2019: New photos from David Jones
  • July 26, 2019: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical information
  • November 28, 2018: New photos from David Jones