Native Americans and the Buffalo

Throughout the history of Native American culture, there have been certain things in nature that play a large role in Indian survival. Fruitful planting seasons, fertile soil, and clean water are all included when stating their necessities for living. Although the factors stated above are very important, not one is more important than the presence of the buffalo. Indians of the late 1800s based their lives around the life and movement of the buffalo. The buffalo, to the Native Americans, was an animal which was not only critical for survival but was also largely available to them. The American buffalo in Native American culture was the most important natural resource, and the decline of the animal led to the eventual decline of Indian influence all together.

Hunting of the American buffalo meant a plentiful food source and also a plethora of supplies for the Indians. Primarily, the buffalo would be used as their main source of food. The amount of meat that the Indians could obtain from a single buffalo was far more substantial than any other available game. The Indians would utilize every part of the buffalo that they could, and every part had a specific purpose. Teepees and warm clothing could be created using the thick hide of the buffalo. Tools and weapons that Indians used for hunting and protection were made from the horns and teeth of the resourceful creature. Native Americans also found a use for the organs of the buffalo. For example, bags and satchels were created using beef paunches and the membrane around the heart, which helped the Indians gather berries and transport water throughout the community. Lastly, the discovery of a glue-like substance was made from melting the buffalo’s hooves. The Native Americans were very clever and resourceful when it came to the utilization of the buffalo. Not one part of the creature was wasted, and the Indian community cherished every bit of the buffalo so much as to view it as a sacred being.

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Although the Native American way of life seemed to be unwavering, the influx of new American settlers caused a rift in their system of buffalo hunting. White settlers moved into the west, under the campaign of Manifest Destiny. America began to expand West in the hope of new commerce and transportation opportunities, the Native Americans and buffalo stood in their way. Americans looked to form a transcontinental railroad, which would allow trade and the movement of goods across the country. With the construction of the railroad, new cities and towns came into existence. More and more settlers moved into these ...

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