Indian Influence On The Extinction of Bison In Southeast Idaho and Adjacent Areas
, 2023-01-27 12:55:17,
With the cultural appropriation of the horse, Indians became effective predators of the West’s bison herds.
It’s often repeated over and over that commercial hunting by white sharp shooters led to the demise of the large western bison herds.
However, there is plenty of evidence that Indian bison hunting led to the demise of the great bison herds and a decline in large mammals elsewhere. A similar decrease in bison occurred in Canada, with herds extirpated by the 1870s.
However, some of the best evidence for Indian extirpation can be found in Southeast Idaho and adjacent regions where by 1840 bison were extirpated. This was long before there was any significant white settlement or commercial bison hunting.
Commercial hide hunting in the 1870s was the final nail in the coffin. Still, by that time, bison numbers were already diminished and even extirpated from many areas where they were once abundant just a few decades earlier.
A 1999 New York Times article reported a short overview of bison’s decline. For a more in-depth review, see my piece Indian Culpability in Bison Demise.
The idea that Indian hunting contributed to substantial bison decline is reiterated and documented by other authors like historian Dan Flores in his book American Serengeti who alludes to the decline of bison well before the 1870s bison hide hunting era.
Various other authors also noted the early destruction of bison. These include the following authors: Jim Bailey…
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