The Extermination of the American Bison eBook

William Temple Hornaday
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 330 pages of information about The Extermination of the American Bison.

There is no possible chance for the race to be perpetuated in a wild state, and in a few years more hardly a bone will remain above ground to mark the existence of the must prolific mammalian species that ever existed, so far as we know.


The buffalo supplied the Indian with food, clothing, shelter, bedding, saddles, ropes, shields, and innumerable smaller articles of use and ornament In the United States a paternal government takes the place of the buffalo in supplying all these wants of the red man, and it costs several millions of dollars annually to accomplish the task.

The following are the tribes which depended very largely—­some almost wholly—­upon the buffalo for the necessities, and many of the luxuries, of their savage life until the Government began to support them: 

|Sioux                        |30,561|
|Crow                         | 3,226|
|Piegan, Blood, and Blackfeet | 2,026|
|Cheyenne                     | 3,477|
|Gros Ventres                 |   856|
|Arickaree                    |   517|
|Mandan                       |   283|
|Bannack and Shoshone         | 2,001|
|Nez Percé                    | 1,460|
|Assinniboine                 | 1,688|
|Kiowas and Comanches         | 2,756|
|Arapahoes                    | 1,217|
|Apache                       |   332|
|Ute                          |   978|
|Omaha                        | 1,160|
|Pawnee                       |   998|
|Winnebago                    | 1,222|
|                             |------|
|    Total                    |54,758|

This enumeration (from the census of 1886) leaves entirely out of consideration many thousands of Indians living in the Indian Territory and other portions of the Southwest, who drew an annual supply of meat and robes from the chase of the buffalo, notwithstanding the fact that their chief dependence was upon agriculture.

The Indians of what was once the buffalo country are not starving and freezing, for the reason that the United States Government supplies them regularly with beef and blankets in lieu of buffalo.  Does any one imagine that the Government could not have regulated the killing of buffaloes, and thus maintained the supply, for far less money than it now costs to feed and clothe those 54,758 Indians!

How is it with the Indians of the British Possessions to-day?

Prof.  John Maconn writes as follows in his “Manitoba and the Great Northwest,” page 342: 

“During the last three years [prior to 1883] the great herds have been kept south of our boundary, and, as the result of this, our Indians have been on the verge of starvation.  When the hills were covered with countless thousands [of buffaloes] in 1877, the Blackfeet were dying of starvation in 1879.”

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The Extermination of the American Bison from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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