Giving Back to Wounded Knee Foundation
 

August 28, 2012

BISON ON A SLOW REBOUND

Historically, factually, in America in the 1500’s – 1700’s, there was an estimated 77 million buffalo roaming not only the Great Plains of America, but roaming as far east as the Mississippi River in the prairies of Iowa and Illinois. This was the major food source of the Plains American Indians.

The assault on the buffalo began in the 1830’s making the buffalo extinct west of the Rocky Mountains. The United States military and European immigrants making their way west were the primary source of the major offenders in drastically reducing the numbers of the America’s largest mammals. In 1844, over 75,000 Bison robes were sold. Between 1870 and 1891, bones of 31 million buffalo were collected and sold. In order to drive the Indians from the plains, over 60 million buffalo and two million elk were destroyed.

The railroad from the east meeting the railroad from the west was also involved in the destruction, having to feed thousands of workers laying the tracks. After the track was laid, passengers traveling in either direction were often handed long guns and rifles to shoot buffalo from their passenger windows as the train continued its journey. A “Buffalo Shoot” was considered a passenger “perk” of the trip.

The Buffalo population in 1906, the year my grandmother was married (born in 1879, 11 years before the massacre at Wounded Knee), was shockingly reduced to 1,000. Somehow, someone pulled the plug on this slaughter and at present time, the buffalo population numbers are growing slowly. One half million now live, with cattle genes. Just 12,000 – 15,000 with pure buffalo genetics currently are surviving. The old phrase, “A dead buffalo is a dead Indian” was said in the 1800’s in the attempt to drive the Indians from the Great Plains.

Cindy Hicks-Orth
Director
Giving Back To Wounded Knee Foundation, Inc.

Email: info@givingbacktowoundedknee.org for more information about our not-for-profit foundation!

Wolf Pack