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Bison and the Native Americans

Bison, the national mammal of the USA, have roamed the North American continent for at least eleven thousand years, originally in a tract which extended via rich grasslands from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico and throughout most of what is now the continental United States. These are the heaviest land animal in North America and are exceeded in stature only by the moose.

In the 1500s, before European settlement, there were between 30-60 million bison (or American buffalo) living in North America. Tragically, by the late 1880s, fewer than 100 individuals remained in the wild.

The Historical Importance of Bison

 Native Americans have both spiritual and cultural connections to bison. Historically, bison were intrinsic to the economy and survival of the Plains Indians of what is now the USA (including the Crow, Cree, Kiowa, Apache, Comanche, Cheyenne, Ojibwe, Blackfoot, and others).

Buffalo hunting was fundamental to the Plains Indians, and they believed the animal was guaranteed to them by the Creator. The Native Americans revered and relied on bison, slaughtered only what they needed, and used every part of the slaughtered animal – for food, shelter, clothing, utensils, and in ceremonies and rituals…


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