Tricks to Catch
Buffalo: The Plains People had many ways to
catch buffalo. In the old days, before the horse, they tricked buffalo
into running off cliffs. Another way they tricked buffalo was to have
some of the men dress up in buffalo skins and make crying sounds, like
lost baby buffalo. When a real buffalo left the herd, and hurried to
save what she or he thought was a baby buffalo in trouble, the People
would kill the animal with spears and arrows. These ideas worked, but
they were not nearly as successful as hunting on horseback.
Killing a Buffalo: In
the Sioux culture, a boy could hunt his first buffalo at age 10. To a
young boy, a single buffalo stands six feet tall, and weighs about as
much as 10 people. Buffalo do not see well, but they run really fast.
Can you imagine how a boy might feel, getting ready for his first
kill? He would be riding a pony. All around him, men would be yelling
to get the buffalo to run. Each would have picked out one buffalo to
kill. With his boy and arrow, in the midst of all this racket and
danger, a ten year old boy was expected to attempt a kill. There was
no dishonor attached if he was not successful, but he had to try.
The buffalo provided nearly everything the Plains people needed.
Using All Parts: When
the Plains people killed a buffalo, they used every part of it.
Nothing was wasted. They used the hide for tepee coverings, bedding,
clothes, moccasins, and robes. The buffalo hair was used for rope and
halters. The hoofs were used for rattles. The horns were used to make
dishes and spoons and ladles. From various parts, they made whips,
saddle pads, glues, toys, drums, belts, stirrups, shields, knife
cases, boats, thread, and of course - FOOD.
The Buffalo was a major
resource: In 1865, Chief Kicking Bear of the
Kiowas explained, "The buffalo is our money. It is our only
resource with which to buy what we need and do not receive from the
government. The robes we can prepare and trade. We love them just as
the white man does his money. Just as it makes a white man's heart
feel to have his money carried away, so it makes us feel to see others
killing and stealing our cattle given to us by the Great Father above
to provide us meat to eat and means to get things to wear."
Tracking the Buffalo (interactive)
Many Ways Can You Use a Buffalo?
Clever Coyote & the Buffalo
story in cartoons, illustrated powerpoint format: Clever Coyote
Return to the Plains