TeacherServe Essays

Buffalo Tales: The Near-Extermination of the American Bison

Author: Krech, Shepard, III (Trustee; NHC Fellow, 1993–94; 2000–01)

Prior to the arrival of Europeans and their powerful, transforming products, desires, and structures, American Indians possessed extensive knowledge about the environments in which they lived and made sense of living beings in myriad culturally appropriate ways. The buffalo was first and foremost of utmost significance to people of the plains and prairies. In a very different way, its crucial standing was underscored by native people generally, after the spread of Plains traits and imagery—especially the eagle-feathered bonneted warrior-hunter astride his horse in pursuit of meat and honor—ultimately to symbolize the North American Indian. Moreover, no story of wildlife decline in North America is more widely known than the demise of the buffalo. It is one of the most important stories in the environmental history of North America.

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Subjects
History / Environment and Nature / Education Studies / American History / Indigenous Americans / Animals / Hunting / Environmental Conservation / Extinction /