Plains Native Americans - Buffalo Illustration

The Buffalo
Native Americans
in Olden Times for Kids

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."

How Many Ways Can You Use a Buffalo?

Prehistoric Buffalo Jumps or How to Catch a Buffalo

Story: Clever Coyote & the Buffalo (by Lin Donn)

Same story in cartoons, illustrated powerpoint format: Clever Coyote (by Lin Donn, illustrated by Phillip Martin)

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