What happened to the Buffalo


For hundreds of centuries buffalo roamed north Americas Great Plains. Up to 60 million of them thundered across the continent dominating the landscape and sustaining tens of thousands of Native Americans. That is until, a calculated slaughter nearly exterminated the buffalo and the cultures that revered them.

They are the most numerous of the large mammals ever to have lived on the planet, they are known as Buffalo, or Bison! Their ancestors came to North America from Asia during the Ice age and they quickly flourished. By the 18th century, the American Indians depended on them for their very survival. Buffalo were everywhere, and their meat, bones, skulls, hides, and even hooves were used for nourishment and sustenance.

In their 1804 expedition, Lewis and Clark described a moving multitude that darkened the plains from one horizon to the other. But as they moved westward, they built a world unsuited for free ranging herds of buffalo. Fences and railroads fragmented the open plains, the army and railroad companies hired hunter’s to kill buffalo’s by the thousands for their hungry crew. One hunter, Buffalo Bill, single handedly killed over 4,200 buffalo in less than two years. After the civil war, the U.S army set out to conquer the west. In order to defeat the Indians, they needed to defeat their one single food source: buffalo. So the order went out to eliminate the buffalo.

Plenty coo, chief of the crows wrote: when the buffalo went away the hearts of my people fell to the ground and they could not lift them up again, after this nothing happened, there was little singling anywhere.

If you think about it, buffalo were their entire economy at one point, and so its pretty hard for them to continue or even to have a culture after that. So when the tribes lost the buffalo to the slaughter, the very heart of their culture was slipped away.


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